From concerts and wine tastings to gardening classes and massive holiday light displays, Idaho Botanical Garden has grown (pun intended) into a hub of the community.
Volunteers are a key part of the machine that keeps the garden humming, doing everything from working and planting in the garden to providing guided tours of the garden to helping with all sorts of events, classes and gatherings. Volunteers even lend a hand with the popular summer concert series, outdoor movies and festivals.
Anyone interested in volunteering must fill out an application, available online and at the garden office.
In recent years, the Idaho Foodbank has been an ever more crucial part of the community, helping keep Idahoans from going hungry. But that massive effort requires help from a whole lot of volunteers who contribute at nearly every phase of the operation.
Volunteers are particularly needed to sort and repackage food donations. Help is also welcome in the warehouse. There are service opportunities for groups and families, depending on the project, and foodbank staff is willing to work with organizations to host their own food donation drives.
Worker bees are needed with the Picnic in the Park summer program, which helps make sure children have a good lunch when schools are on summer break.
Organizers are currently focusing on gathering the roughly 300 volunteers it takes to staff post office locations across the valley for the National Association of Letter Carriers Food Drive on Saturday, May 11.
With Idaho celebrating its 150th territorial anniversary, state history is getting a lot of attention this year. But the Idaho Historical Society is always looking for buffs of bygone days to help at any of the society's facilities.
IHS maintains not only the State Historical Museum, but the Old Idaho Penitentiary and the State Historical Library. Volunteers can assist educational programs and work with the historic collections and exhibits at the museum, or donate some time with the archives at the library. But those who like their history with just a touch of the macabre can focus their efforts on the penitentiary, where volunteers lead tours of the facility.
Anyone interested can check the Historical Society's website for information and an application.
Phone: Idaho State Historical Museum, 208-334-2120; Idaho Historical Society, 208-334-2682; Old Idaho Penitentiary, 208-334-2844
Idaho Humane Society
Everyone deserves a loving home, and the Idaho Humane Society is dedicated to making sure our four-legged friends have homes, too. The nonprofit has to stretch its budget to make sure that happens, and volunteers are key to that mission.
Volunteers are needed for a range of activities, from walking, bathing and grooming dogs, to playing with the cats. Helpers can also serve as adoption assistants, answering questions and matching people with prospective pets, as well as doing community outreach work.
If you'd rather work outdoors, the grounds of the facility always need maintenance, making sure the animals have as nice of a home as possible until they are adopted. Visit the website to fill out a volunteer application before signing up for an orientation. There is a $10 orientation fee and some positions require animal handling classes.
When it comes to volunteer opportunities, it's hard to get more popular than working at Idaho Shakespeare Festival. In fact, volunteer openings for the 2013 summer season are already full.
It's an all-out competition for the chance to spend an evening in the outdoor amphitheater, catching a free show. Of course, the real cost of admission is helping take tickets, handing out programs, ushering and picking up trash at intermission and after the performance.
So, why would we tell you about a volunteer program that's filled up? Because ISF has a waiting list for volunteers willing to step in at the last minute if someone can't make their assigned night. It might be a long shot, but at least it's a shot.
Even when the Legislature isn't in session, the Idaho State Capitol is still a fascinating place. Volunteers serve as guides of the historic building throughout the year. Scripts and training are provided for the hour-long tours.
Idaho Youth Ranch is more than a chain of thrift stores. The Youth Ranch runs programs that help kids who are on dangerous paths, including shelter homes and through an actual ranch program near Rupert.
The nonprofit needs volunteers for a variety of jobs, including working in the retail stores, fixing up the shelter homes, fundraising, working on special projects and serving as mentors to kids in the program.
All volunteers must undergo a background check, and applications are available from the volunteer coordinator.
As Boise's main homeless shelter, Interfaith Sanctuary is constantly trying to balance the needs of a growing homeless population with resources, something it couldn't do without volunteers.
Volunteers perform a variety of duties at the shelter, but are especially needed to fill nightly shifts checking in people staying at the shelter and getting them settled, as well as serving food. Workers are also needed to help clean in the morning, and organize activities, programs and group volunteer efforts. Applications are available online. Staff will contact potential volunteers after submission.
Arriving in Boise as a refugee can be overwhelming for those who are suddenly living in the middle of an unfamiliar culture. But the folks at the IRC are there to help with the transition, supporting refugees and their families for their first eight months in the United States with things like job placement, housing, English classes and various programs.
IRC is always in need of help with everything from clerical duties to working directly with refugees as mentors. Opportunities are available to work one-on-one with refugees in jobs classes, helping with resumes and interviewing skills, as well as helping with the IRC's women's program, which teaches life skills to high-risk women.
Anyone interested in working with the group should start by filling out an application. A background check is required, and IRC staff will work with volunteers to find a position that works with their time constraints and skills.