Whether you’re 4th generation native or a recent transplant to Santa Fe looking to meet people and get involved in your new community, consider volunteering. If you do, you’ll be part of a growing trend that, according to a report released last year, involved 77.34 million Americans!
For a city its size, Santa Fe offers an almost overwhelming range of volunteering opportunities. In his role with Barker Realty, Mark Banham has introduced hundreds of new LGBTQ residents to all aspects of life in Santa Fe, from Friends of Dorothy Events to options for giving back to the community. Mark supports many local non-profits, and has helped a number of recent transplants connect with two of his favorites—Kitchen Angels and the omnibus Santa Fe Community Foundation, both of which are discussed below.
PHILANTHROPY HUB AND A GAY CONNECTION
Founded in 1981, the Santa Fe Community Foundation serves Santa Fe and surrounding counties in Northern New Mexico as a hub of information and funding for the many non-profits whose diverse mission statements support the arts, literacy, education, the environment, Native American issues, youth concerns, a broad array of health issues, LGBTQ issues, and other worthwhile causes.
“We’re celebrating 38 years as a working Foundation,” said SFCF President and CEO Bill Smith. “We started with giving away $1500 to three non-profits in 1982. Today, we’re a community leadership organization that also engages in grant-making and we made close to $10 million in grants last year,” said Smith, a friend of Mark’s who often helps new arrivals find fulfilling volunteer roles. “So we’ve definitely grown significantly over the years.”
Among the many funds operated by SFCF is the foundation’s LGBTQ fund, known as The Envision Fund. In fact, the grant-making organization has a long history of LGBTQ leadership within the organization. Three of the five Executive Directors who’ve led the organization have been LGBTQ. Smith is one of them.
The Envision Fund is directed by Smith himself and is overseen by a group of volunteer advisors who granted $90,000 last year to sponsor pride events, cultural outreach, anti-bullying efforts and other endeavors important to full equality for LGBTQ New Mexicans. “I’m an out gay leader,” he said, “and as an organization, we’re proud of that.”
To volunteer for The Santa Fe Community Foundation, click here. Interested in working with one of the LGBTQ-focused initiatives, contact Smith directly at
INVEST IN YOUR COMMUNITY’S FUTURE
The youth-focused Opportunity Santa Fe is another well-deserved organization housed within SFCF that is always in need of volunteers.
A joint collective impact effort led by the Santa Fe Community Foundation and the City of Santa Fe – and in collaboration with many other community partners – the initiative seeks to improve the key transitions of children and youth across the city, from birth until they begin their careers.
This effort is mammoth, but worthwhile. Smith describes the task as “Trying to get everyone in the city on the same page to help young people from birth through beginning their careers—the whole trajectory.” He added, “There’s a strong sector in Northern New Mexico that focuses on mentoring and tutoring young people, from reading and literacy to math skills.”
In addition to Opportunity Santa Fe, volunteers looking to work with our community’s youth have a wide array of options. There’s Girls Inc., Big Brother/Big Sister Program(s), Girls Club of Santa Fe, as well as lots of non-profits that deal with after-school programs.
EXPERIENCE THE ARTS UP CLOSE AND PERSONAL
With cultural institutions like The Wheelwright Museum and Museum of Indian Arts & Culture, along with world-class arts destinations like Meow Wolf, Indian Market and all the Canyon Road galleries, Santa Fe is loaded with more culture per square inch than any American town its size.
If you have a passion for arts and culture, there’s no better way to immerse yourself in your favorite institution than to become part of its team. Non-profit arts organizations consider their volunteer staff their “life’s blood.” Volunteering not only is a great way to give back, but an almost sure-fire way to get the inside scoop on upcoming exhibits, concerts and other special happenings.
Two great opportunities: from training to be a docent, ushering, or working in the gift shop, the Santa Fe Opera offers a range of exciting volunteer opportunities, as does The Georgia O’Keefe Museum, which works to preserve, present, and advances the artistic legacy of Georgia O’Keeffe and Modernism.
DELIVERING MEALS AND COMPANIONSHIP
Sometimes providing direct services is the most fulfilling way to volunteer. Each week about 300 volunteers take care of the most basic and necessary need of their neighbors by preparing, cooking, and delivering healthy nutritious meals to the homebound.
Founded in 1992, Kitchen Angels provides both food for the body and soul by delivering meals and establishing relationships with home-bound clients. The group offers three different volunteer opportunities:
- KITCHEN – There are two two-hour shifts a day. Mornings shifts are from 10:00 until noon. Afternoon volunteers work from 1:00 to 3:00 p.m.. There’s a chef on staff, but volunteers do the bulk of the work executing the menu, slicing, chopping and preparing meals for delivery.
- DELIVERY COORDINATION – Assemble and package client meals for pick up by Delivery Volunteers.
- DELIVERY DRIVERS – These volunteers pick up meals between 4 and 5:30 and deliver to between 5-10 clients on their route. Drivers donate their own cars and gas. This role performs double duty by not only making sure meals are delivered, but also spending a bit of time with the home-bound clients.
“We’re always looking for more delivery drivers,” said Kitchen Angels’ Development Officer Dwayne Trujillo, a friend and client of Mark’s who just relocated to our city in February 2018. “Because these clients are home-bound and their social circles are shrinking, we encourage drivers to spend a few minutes with them after delivering their meals.”
Trujillo added, “When I’ve been out to visit clients, I’ve seen how they look forward to a particular driver on a certain day. Monday is Joanne, Tuesday is Marie, etc. It’s nice. So, in addition to food as medicine, we try to provide friendship and companionship between driver and clients.”
To learn more, click here or contact Kitchen Angels Community Liaison Lauren LaVail at 505-471-7780 ext. 202.
FIVE GOOD REASONS TO START VOLUNTEERING
If you’ve been on the fence about volunteering, perhaps this article published by Psychology Today might tip the scale for you. It outlines five key reasons why making volunteering part of your regular schedule can improve your life.
- Volunteers live longer and are healthier.
- Volunteering establishes strong relationships.
- Volunteering is good for your career.
- Volunteering is good for society.
- Volunteering gives you a sense of purpose.
The City Different offers an incredible range of opportunities to give back and – even though we covered a lot of ground – this article has barely scratched the surface of ways to make a difference in our community.