For a Houston Without Homelessness

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Volunteer

When you volunteer at SEARCH, the gift of your time changes our clients’ lives as well as your own. SEARCH has a wide variety of volunteer opportunities available.  Please note that most volunteer activities take place during regular business hours, Monday – Friday.  Please also note that we usually cannot accommodate volunteer groups larger than 12-15 people and volunteers under the age of 12 onsite at SEARCH facilities.  Feel free to reach out to Volunteer Coordinator Molly Martin to troubleshoot!

We look forward to working with you to provide a meaningful volunteer experience.  Please review this document or the information below for a list of our ongoing volunteer opportunities. Seasonal and special event opportunities also arise throughout the year.  These include our SEARCH’s House of Tiny Treasures Fall and Spring Festivals, Holiday Party, Family Nights, Brighter Bites summer project, and summer Splash Days.  Volunteer Coordinator Molly Martin is available to answer questions about these volunteer commitments.


Volunteer Opportunities

Volunteer Opportunities at SEARCH Main Building and Housing Sites

Administrative Assistant

Volunteer role: SEARCH staff members are responsible for many projects as we strive to prioritize our clients’ needs. Volunteers can support this client focus by helping with various administrative tasks like filing and data entry.

Number of volunteers: 1-2 per shift

Time: Monday through Friday, varied shifts as needed between 9:00 am and 5:00 pm.

Location: SEARCH’s main building located at 2015 Congress Ave.  Parking is available in the 200 Chartres lot just west of SEARCH.  You can obtain a day pass from the Welcome Center.

Navigation Ride-Along Volunteer

Volunteer role: Volunteers will accompany our Housing Navigators as they assist clients with the process of obtaining and moving into housing.  They will witness the move-in and housing voucher process first-hand, joining clients and Navigators at various housing-related appointments and possibly spending time with clients and Navigators at the clients’ new apartment properties.  Volunteers in this role also help us adhere to SEARCH transportation policy.  It allows our staff to transport clients to appointments and other important obligations but requires that they always do so with another staff person or volunteer present to ensure clients and staff have the support they need and remain safe.  This opportunity often works well for volunteers with flexible morning schedules since appointments and move-ins tend to occur with little notice.  Interested volunteers can add their name to our first come, first served email list to receive information about rider opportunities.

Number of volunteers: 1-2 per shift

Time: Monday through Friday, varied shifts as needed between 9:00 am and 5:00 pm.  This opportunity often works well for volunteers with flexible schedules since it is “on call.”  Housing Navigators’ schedules vary based on client needs.

Location: Starting at 2015 Congress Ave. and then traveling to various locations. Parking is available in the 200 Chartres lot just west of SEARCH.  You can obtain a day pass from the Welcome Center.

Housing Community Building Event

Volunteer role: Plan and sponsor a community building event for SEARCH’s adult clients living in congregate housing.  These individuals formerly experienced homelessness and often face challenging isolation upon moving into housing, and we hope to counter that feeling through these programs.  The format is flexible!  Suggestions include a simple coffee hour with drinks and breakfast, cookout or other special meal to celebrate a holiday, birthday party, movie with popcorn, Bingo, game day, karaoke hour, or art project. 

Number of volunteers: 1-2 housing community building events per month.  We find this opportunity often works well for professional and corporate groups with a budget (usually $300-$500) to put toward the event.  Thank you for your generosity!  We can host volunteer groups of 10 or fewer people.

Time: Available most weekdays between 10:00 am and 3:00 pm.

Location: Various apartment properties in the downtown/midtown area.  SEARCH’s Volunteer Coordinator would work to match your volunteer group to a housing site and arrange an advance meeting with the case management team there so you or another point person could see the space available. 


Volunteer Opportunities at SEARCH’s House of Tiny Treasures

Kitchen/Lunch Cart Volunteer

Volunteer role: Volunteers assist in the HTT kitchen by washing dishes, preparing a lunch cart, delivering food to students in the classrooms, and talking with students while they eat. Volunteers will have a unique opportunity to meet and interact with students and serve as enormous support to the HTT staff.

Number of volunteers: 1-2 per day.  Ideally, individuals or volunteer teams would commit to service on the same day each week.  Our students benefit from the consistency regular volunteer service offers and love developing deeper relationships with our frequent volunteers!

Time: Monday through Friday, 9:15 am-12:00 pm.

Location: SEARCH’s House of Tiny Treasures at 2323 Francis St.  The building is unmarked for safety reasons but surrounded by a noticeable wooden fence.  Parking is available on Francis St. and Stuart St.

Art Studio Assistant

Volunteer role: Volunteers help in the HTT art studio, facilitating student-led art projects with teacher support.  Volunteers can make a difference by keeping surfaces and materials clean and working with students to implement their creative ideas.

Number of volunteers: 1-2 per day.  Ideally, individuals or volunteer teams would commit to service on the same day each week.  Our students benefit from the consistency regular volunteer service offers and love developing deeper relationships with our frequent volunteers!

Time: Monday through Friday, 9:30 am-12:00 pm. or after 3:00 pm.

Location: SEARCH’s House of Tiny Treasures at 2323 Francis St.  The building is unmarked for safety reasons but surrounded by a noticeable wooden fence.  Parking is available on Francis St. and Stuart St.

Gardener

Volunteer role: Volunteers assist HTT staff with the upkeep of our sensory garden and landscaping through activities like weeding, watering, etc.  Interested volunteers can also work with students to involve them in gardening activities, asking for their help drawing water from the rainwater tank and answering questions about the environment around them.

Number of volunteers: 1-2 per week.  Ideally, individuals or volunteer teams would commit to service on the same day each week.  Our students benefit from the consistency regular volunteer service offers and love developing deeper relationships with our frequent volunteers!

Time: Monday through Friday, 9:30 am-12:00 pm or after 3:00 pm.

Location: SEARCH’s House of Tiny Treasures at 2323 Francis St.  The building is unmarked for safety reasons but surrounded by a noticeable wooden fence.  Parking is available on Francis St. and Stuart St.

Teacher's Assistant

Volunteer role: Volunteers provide general support to HTT staff by jumping right in to the activities students have planned for the day!  The extra set of hands keeps students engaged and helps the day flow smoothly.

Number of volunteers: 1-2 per day.  Ideally, individuals or volunteer teams would commit to service on the same day each week.  Our students benefit from the consistency regular volunteer service offers and love developing deeper relationships with our frequent volunteers!

Time: Monday through Friday, 9:30 am-12:00 pm

Location: SEARCH’s House of Tiny Treasures at 2323 Francis St.  The building is unmarked for safety reasons but surrounded by a noticeable wooden fence.  Parking is available on Francis St. and Stuart St.

Naptime Help

Volunteer role: Volunteers help HTT teachers transition students from lunch and get students settled in for their daily naps.  They may pat backs, tuck students in, etc. and assist with administrative and classroom upkeep tasks that teachers sometimes tackle during naptime.

Number of volunteers: 1-2 per day.  Ideally, individuals or volunteer teams would commit to service on the same day each week.  Our students benefit from the consistency regular volunteer service offers and love developing deeper relationships with our frequent volunteers!

Time: Monday through Friday, 12:00 pm-2:00 pm.

Location: SEARCH’s House of Tiny Treasures at 2323 Francis St.  The building is unmarked for safety reasons but surrounded by a noticeable wooden fence.  Parking is available on Francis St. and Stuart St.

Enriching Entertainer

Volunteer role: Volunteers perform for students and their families during school drop-off and pick-up time.  They encourage students to engage in the performance and invite student interaction with their craft and equipment.  SEARCH seeks to expose students to a wide variety of communication and art forms (e.g. music, mime, acting, puppeteering, etc.). We’d love to see your talent!

Number of volunteers: 1-2 per day.  Ideally, individuals or volunteer teams would commit to service on the same day each week.  Our students benefit from the consistency regular volunteer service offers and love developing deeper relationships with our frequent volunteers!

Time: Monday through Friday, 8:30 am-9:30 am and 3:30 pm-5:30 pm.

Location: SEARCH’s House of Tiny Treasures at 2323 Francis St.  The building is unmarked for safety reasons but surrounded by a noticeable wooden fence.  Parking is available on Francis St. and Stuart St.

In-House Field Trip Facilitator

Volunteer role: Volunteers bring the field trip to HTT!  Volunteers can work with outside organizations (e.g. Houston Museum of Natural Science, Houston Zoo, etc.) to bring their mobile outreach education programs to the school or plan educational presentations and stations based on their own expertise.  If they’d like something extra hands-on, volunteer groups can plan to offer a creative activity associated with the outreach presentation from an external group, and SEARCH staff will offer suggestions anytime!  We encourage volunteers to consult with SEARCH staff about students’ current curriculum so that in-house field trips directly further students’ learning efforts.

Number of volunteers: 1-2 in-house field trips per month.  We find this opportunity often works well for professional and corporate groups with a budget (usually $300-$500) to put toward the event.  Thank you for your generosity!  We can host volunteer groups of 10 or fewer people.

Time: Wednesdays and Fridays, 9:30 am-12:00 pm

Location: SEARCH’s House of Tiny Treasures at 2323 Francis St.  The building is unmarked for safety reasons but surrounded by a noticeable wooden fence.  Parking is available on Francis St. and Stuart St.

Afternoon Enrichment for HTT Families

Volunteer role: We try to expose HTT students to as many different art forms and modes of learning as possible.  Moving forward, we’d like to make a deliberate effort to include their parents and siblings in projects designed with this goal in mind.  We are hoping for volunteer assistance providing supplies for and facilitating creative activities that families can complete during parent pick up time.  We are very open to volunteer ideas but have shared some suggested activities below! 

  • DIY potpourri
  • Flower arrangement:  In the past, volunteers have provided 60 vases, ribbons and scissors to decorate vases, a variety of wholesale flowers and enough large buckets to separate flowers by type.  They then worked with students to choose their favorite color of ribbon and make an arrangement to take with them at the end of the school day.
  • DIY soap:  We’d have families “flavor” soap mixture that volunteers made in advance.
  • Masquerade masks
  • DIY placemats
  • DIY potholders
  • Birdhouse building

Number of volunteers: 1-2 afternoon enrichment activities per month.  We find this opportunity often works well for professional and corporate groups with a budget (usually $300-$500) to put toward the event.  Thank you for your generosity!  We can host volunteer groups of 10 or fewer people.

Time: Monday through Friday, 2:30 pm-5:30 pm

Location: SEARCH’s House of Tiny Treasures at 2323 Francis St.  The building is unmarked for safety reasons but surrounded by a noticeable wooden fence.  Parking is available on Francis St. and Stuart St.


Remote Volunteer Opportunities

Back-to-School Sponsor

Volunteer role: Volunteers are matched with a SEARCH client and assemble a backpack containing school supplies appropriate to the student’s grade level.  SEARCH serves students from pre-K to college!  Backpack purchase and assembly generally costs $75-$100 per student.

Number of volunteers: 50 or more

Time: SEARCH recruits sponsors in June and July.  Backpack drop-off occurs from late July to mid-August.  Drop-off is open Monday through Friday between 8:00 am and 4:00 pm.

Location: Drop-off at SEARCH’s main building located at 2015 Congress Ave. 

Holiday Wish List Sponsor

Volunteer role: Volunteers are matched with a SEARCH client and his or her holiday wish list of three items.  As our neighbors often struggle to meet their daily needs, volunteers who purchase wish list items play a crucial part in making holiday cheer available to all!  We have found that groups often enjoy shopping for wish list items together and coming together for “wrapping parties!”  

Number of volunteers: 50 or more

Time: SEARCH recruits sponsors in October.  Wish list item drop-off occurs throughout November and in early December.  Drop-off is open Monday through Friday between 8:00 am and 4:00 pm.

Location: Drop-off at SEARCH’s main building located at 2015 Congress Ave. or SEARCH’s House of Tiny Treasures located at 2323 Francis St.  SEARCH’s Volunteer Coordinator will specify a location! 

Snack Pack Preparer

For details, click here.

Survival Kit Assembler

For details, click here.

In-Kind Drive Sponsor

Volunteer role:  SEARCH clients consistently report certain needs that volunteers can help us meet by organizing in-kind donation drives at their schools, workplaces, extracurricular groups, places of worship, etc.  Client needs vary depending on the kinds of services they are receiving from SEARCH.  Volunteers are invited to collect any and all of the following items.  We also invite volunteers to reach out to us if they’d consider representing us as a “Next Door Neighbor,” receiving emails from SEARCH staff about specific in-kind needs for particular individuals and families.  Thank you for considering a donation to SEARCH!

SEARCH’s House of Tiny Treasures In-Kind Drive:

  • Diapers (sizes 5 – 6)
  • Diaper genie refill bags
  • Size 2T-6T underwear
  • Size 2T-6T bottoms
  • Baby wipes
  • Swim diapers (sizes 5 – 6)
  • Laundry detergent

Essential Items In-Kind Drive:

  • Household cleaning supplies
  • Toilet paper
  • Laundry detergent
  • Men’s underwear (boxers)
  • Men’s shoes (casual or tennis)
  • Feminine products
  • Plus-size/big and tall casual clothing (polo-style shirts, jeans, khaki pants)
  • Kleenex
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Paper towels
  • Garbage bags
  • First aid kits
  • Bibles and/or sacred texts
  • Instant coffee
  • Bottled water

In-Kind Drive for Clients Transitioning to Housing:

  • TVs with inputs (red/white/yellow) for DVD players
  • Clock radios
  • Toasters and toaster ovens
  • Pantry staples like flour, sugar, cooking oil, and basic spices
  • Lamps
  • Small end tables
  • Rugs
  • Baby bassinets
  • Hangers
  • Cable bike locks and other bike accessories
  • Griddles/electric skillets
  • Coffee machines
  • Coasters
  • Blankets/throws
  • Picture frames
  • Crockpots
  • Small storage items
  • Decorative vases and candles

Number of volunteers: Open.  This opportunity often works well for larger groups!

Time: Item drop-off is Monday through Friday between 8:00 am and 4:00 pm.

Location: Drop-off at SEARCH’s main building located at 2015 Congress Ave.

Fundraising Event Host

Volunteer role: Host a fundraiser benefiting SEARCH and/or HTT. Suggestions include but are not limited to golf tournaments, softball games, donation-based yoga classes, and movie nights.

Number of volunteers: Open

Time: As scheduled

Location: Open.  SEARCH staff would love to attend your event if possible, and please let us know how we can assist with organization!

Keychain Maker

Volunteer role: Newly housed clients need a place for the keys to their new apartments!  We welcome volunteer help creating simple keychains that SEARCH can include in the “Welcome Home” gifts clients receive.  Ideas for key chains include this and this.  However, you are free to make the keychains as elaborate as you would like.

Number of volunteers: Open. This opportunity often works well for larger groups!

Time: Item drop-off is Monday through Friday between 8:00 am and 4:00 pm.

Location: Drop-off at SEARCH’s main building located at 2015 Congress Ave.

Pottery Painter

Volunteer role: Volunteers can purchase and paint mugs to donate to newly housed SEARCH clients.  We say mugs because most of our clients love coffee!  We do ask that mugs get a coating of Krylon Crystal Clear or Modge Podge sealer so clients can wash them.  Most dollar stores sell mugs for $1 per unit.  Encouraging messages like “Welcome Home” make a great decoration!

Number of volunteers: Open. This opportunity often works well for larger groups!

Time: Item drop-off is Monday through Friday between 8:00 am and 4:00 pm.

Location: Drop-off at SEARCH’s main building located at 2015 Congress Ave.

Tablecloth Creator

Volunteer role: At HTT, the students eat breakfast and lunch daily using reusable tablecloths, plates, and cutlery.  We run through tablecloths fairly quickly and would love it if you would like to create some.  Any durable and washable fabric (e.g. cotton) works well, and you can cut the fabric to size and decorate the tablecloths with fabric paint, fabric markers, etc.  We have 36” round tables and 30” x 44” rectangular tables.  The rectangular tables use approximately one yard of fabric which can be purchased from Walmart for $4 or less.

Number of volunteers: Open. This opportunity often works well for larger groups!

Time: Item drop-off is Monday through Friday between 8:00 am and 4:00 pm.

Location: Drop-off at SEARCH’s House of Tiny Treasures located at 2323 Francis St. 

Hurricane Kit Assembler

Volunteer role: During hurricane season from June to November, people living on the streets face an elevated risk of displacement and unsafe conditions.  We’d really appreciate your help assembling “hurricane kits” to enhance their disaster preparedness.  For this project, we recommend that volunteers place the following items in a plastic container or large Ziploc:

  • Bottled water
  • Flashlights plus compatible batteries (no candles, please!)
  • Non-perishable snacks
  • Hand-cranked radios
  • Backup lighting batteries
  • Ziploc plastic bags for important documents
  • Toilet paper
  • First aid kit

Number of volunteers: Open. This opportunity often works well for larger groups!  We usually need ~300 kits per hurricane season.

Time: Item drop-off is Monday through Friday between 8:00 am and 4:00 pm.

Location: Drop-off at SEARCH’s main building located at 2015 Congress Ave.

Pantry Kit Assembler

Volunteer role: Food pantries typically do not carry items like cooking oils, flour, sugar, essential spices, and basic condiments.  We invite volunteers to package these items in reusable totes or storage containers for SEARCH case managers to distribute to individuals and families upon move in.  Please feel free to include encouraging notes!  Please don’t include dates, contact information, last names, religious references, or seasonal information such as references to holidays.

Number of volunteers: Open. This opportunity often works well for larger groups!  We usually need 10-15 kits per month.

Time: Item drop-off is Monday through Friday between 8:00 am and 4:00 pm.

Location: Drop-off at SEARCH’s main building located at 2015 Congress Ave.

Holiday Stocking Assembler

Volunteer role: Host a holiday stocking drive with your family, friends, or community to benefit SEARCH clients. These gifts will bring joy and help to meet some basic needs during the holiday season. 

We recommend that volunteers stuff stockings with a $10 gift card to a grocery store like Kroger, Fiesta, or Walmart or to a dollar store.  Additional items volunteers may want to add to stockings include socks, gloves, hats, scarves, encouraging books, and pre-packaged holiday treats (no homemade, please).

Number of volunteers: Open. This opportunity often works well for larger groups!

Time: Early November through early December

Location: Drop-off at SEARCH’s main building located at 2015 Congress Ave.


For more information about volunteering with SEARCH, please contact Molly Martin at mmartin@searchhomeless.org or 713-276-3063.

 

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