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Sad reality: Americans are volunteering their time to nonprofits less than they were before the pandemic, according to a report by the U.S. Census Bureau. That’s bad news for nonprofit organizations, which usually rely heavily on volunteers to maintain their operations.
Be the change you wish to see by bucking the trend and taking on a new charitable cause. Below, 10 of our favorite not-for-profit organizations across the state and how you can give back.
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Best for: The serious shredder
First founded in 1993 in Vail, SOS Outreach is a youth development nonprofit that teaches kids from fourth to 12th grades essential life skills, all while having fun on fresh powder. Budding Mikaela Shiffrins are encouraged to ski and snowboard as a way of stepping out of their comfort zones and becoming more confident in themselves. They’re each paired with an adult mentor who guides them through community service projects and personal development workshops—and, occasionally, joins them on the hill. For older kiddos, SOS Outreach even offers a career-development program that connects participants over the age of 15 with paid apprenticeships in the outdoor industry.
How to help: Join the SOS Outreach team as an adult mentor, where you’ll join your mentee both on and off the mountain as you guide them to improve their leadership skills and self-confidence.
Best for: The social media influencer
A study by insurance company Prudential shows that for veterans who struggle to adjust to civilian life, finding a job is one of the biggest challenges in the transition. That’s why Colorado Veterans Project raises funds to help veterans find sustainable employment after their military service. This year, the organization plans to host three main events: a patriotic, four-mile race on June 9, an 18-hole golf tournament on September 19, and an annual Veterans Day Parade and Festival on November 9.
How to help: Volunteers are needed to help run all of the events, meaning that anyone with experience in photography, videography, marketing, and social media is invited to help. Opportunities are also available to stuff race bags, set up and clean up events, and register participants.
Best for: The empath
One in 13 kids in Colorado will experience the death of a parent or sibling in their youth, which is why Judi’s House uses a research-backed model to provide grief counseling and care to children at no cost. Founded by former NFL quarterback (and Denver Bronco) Brian Griese and his wife and clinical psychologist Dr. Brook Griese, this Denver-based organization has provided services to more than 14,000 kiddos. Clients receive individual or group counseling and therapy services, and their families can attend workshops to learn how to help kids navigate grief at home.
How to help: Sign up to prepare meals for families before group therapy, create quilts to memorialize loved ones who have passed, or support counselors and participants during grief support groups.
Best for: Those comfortable in a hospital
Producer of the first three Harry Potter films Paula DuPré Pesmen founded There With Care in Colorado in 2005 with the mission of providing families of critically ill children with necessities. Children are referred to There With Care by medical agencies, and the nonprofit then works to provide families with clothing, strollers, restaurant gift cards, gas cards, and even financial assistance with rent, mortgages, and utility bills. The organization, which has offices in Denver and Boulder, serves some 1,200 families in Colorado every year, a number that has seen a 40 percent increase since the COVID-19 pandemic.
How to help: Pass a background check and complete trainings to volunteer with families directly and deliver necessities. Skip the trainings to volunteer in other ways, such as by stuffing care bags, working in the warehouse, or helping run fundraising events.
Best for: The bunny-obsessed
This Erie-based nonprofit is one of the only organizations in Colorado devoted entirely to the beloved pet rabbit. The shelter doesn’t just serve as a trusted place to get a new floppy-eared friend, but aspiring bunny owners can also attend the rescue’s classes to learn how to best take care of their new best bud. Rabbit owners can also visit the Binky Boutique online to buy Thumper necessities like treats, vitamins, and hideouts with proceeds going back to the care of the rabbits still in the shelter.
How to help: Rocky Mountain House Rabbit Rescue is entirely volunteer-run and is currently most in need of pen cleaners. Donate a few hours of your time every month to help provide the rabbits with a clean space and a new toy from the rescue’s stash.
Best for: The natural extrovert
You might know the Center on Colfax as the organization behind Denver Pride, but throughout the rest of the year, the nonprofit hosts programming for the state’s LGBTQ individuals like free mental health services, youth support groups, and harm reduction meetings. Founded in 1976, the center also provides services for older adults and programming specifically for transgender and nonbinary identifying individuals.
How to help: If hosting dinner parties with home-cooked meals is your idea of a good time, take your talents to the Center and become a cooking-class instructor. Or, if you love connecting with new people, volunteer as a front-desk greeter to answer the phone and welcome visitors.
Best for: The mental health advocate
First founded in 1989 and named after a Sister of the Good Shepherd, this nonprofit mental health center offers counseling services to Coloradans of all ages on a sliding payment scale based on income. The center is not affiliated with any religious order, is LGBTQ-friendly, and uses fully trained therapists to provide its services for children, families, individuals, and couples. While Maria Droste accepts most major insurance carriers and adjusts fees to a client’s income, the organization is committed to never turning down services because of someone’s inability to pay.
How to help: Volunteers are needed in all administrative areas, meaning you might be grant writing, fundraising, helping with marketing strategies, or working on computer projects for the center.
Best for: The doggo enthusiast
When Theresa Strader found Lily, a seven-year-old Italian greyhound that had been subjected to unethical breeding practices her entire life, she had rotting teeth, mammary tumors, and was anxious around people. Strader, who worked as a dog rescuer, provided Lily with a loving home and quality healthcare for the rest of her life. In return, Lily inspired Strader to found the National Mill Dog Rescue in 2007, a Peyton-based organization working to rescue dogs from puppy mills and end the cruel practice.
How to help: The rescue is always in need of foster homes for the many dogs in its care, but if you can’t commit to housing an animal, volunteer your time to play with the pups or clean the shelter, or join the bathing and grooming team.
Best for: Those who want to soak up the wisdom of senior citizens
With more than 1,000 enrolled members, the Castle Rock Senior Activity Center provides about 150 activities every month to keep older adults active and socialized. Since its founding in 1971, seniors have been able to learn new crafts, perform in plays, join golf leagues, and much more. Additionally, the nonprofit oversees a fleet of volunteer drivers who shuttle seniors to and from medical appointments and grocery stores.
How to help: Devote any days you can to driving one of the center’s provided cars and helping seniors get around town. For those who aren’t as confident in their driving skills, the center is also in need of volunteer receptionists, kitchen servers, and care callers who chat with seniors a couple of times per week.
Best for: The jack of all trades
Located in Lincoln Park, Haven of Hope provides food, shelter, clothing, and more to Denver’s unhoused population. While it may be common practice at other shelters, Haven of Hope does not require proof of income or housing status, and it accepts all individuals regardless of family status. Plus, once immediate needs have been met, the organization helps with therapy, job readiness courses, and connects interested folks with trade schools.
How to help: Volunteers are needed for four main roles: kitchen and dining room servers, clothing bank sorters, administrative volunteers, and special events helpers. Most of Haven of Hope’s volunteers work a three- to four-hour shift one day a week, though a two-hour tryout is available to see if it’s a good fit before you commit.