Volunteering is a great way to help those in need and become involved in your community. For an English learner, it also offers an excellent opportunity to practice speaking English! Perhaps this is why so many wonderful, giving CISL students are interested in volunteering. But how can you volunteer? Read on and find out!

Volunteering while studying at CISL

First and foremost, if you are considering volunteering, we recommend that you speak with the CISL Front Desk. Organizations sometimes contact schools with opportunities to participate in an event or work with an ongoing project, and there might be one waiting for you! Below are some other ideas. Remember: there are many organizations in need of help, and these are just a few of the many places you can volunteer!

Food Banks

The less fortunate are always in need of food, and food banks are always in need of volunteers. Check out the food banks in SD and SF and see if you can help preparing or serving food. Volunteers are needed every day of the year, and signing up is simple.

Monarch School2
CISL SD students cook and serve food to homeless children at The Monarch School.


Monarch School
The children were so appreciative!

In San Diego:

Contact the San Diego Food Bank. 


In San Francisco:

Contact the San Francisco Food Bank.



Heart Beach Love Girl Sunset California

Beach Cleanup

Keep California’s beautiful beaches clean! Beach cleanups are regularly scheduled in both SD and SF. Afterwards, many grab lunch together and chat, so it’s a great opportunity to meet people and practice your English!

In San Diego:

Contact San Diego Coastkeeper


In San Francisco:

Contact the San Francisco chapter of the Surfrider Foundation


Youth Mentor Host Family Kids

Youth Mentoring

If you are staying in San Diego or San Francisco for an extended amount of time, considering mentoring a youth. You can improve your English and make an impact on a young person, and this influence will last a lifetime!

The YMCA is perhaps the most popular mentoring program: click here for more information on their youth programs.

Nothing is better than love from our furry friends! Considering being a dog walker for some exercise and some fun with a homeless dog.

Animal Shelters

While animals wait to be adopted, they live in small cages. They need to be walked regularly, fed, bathed . . . and loved!

The SPCA (The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) is the most popular animal shelter in the U.S. Start with this organization if you’re unsure where to find a shelter in your area, but also try to search for smaller shelters close to you that might need a helping hand.

In San Diego:


In San Francisco:



Vocabulary for Volunteering

Before you volunteer, check to see if you know these words and phrases that are linked to volunteering.

To give back someone/something

Definition: to volunteer, usually to return the good fortune that you have received.

Example: I want to give back to the community. I think I’m going to volunteer at hospital.

To lend/give a helping hand

Definition: to help

Example: Animal shelters always need someone to lend a helping hand with feeding, washing, and caring for the animals.

“The needy”

Definition: this is a politically correct way to talk about the people who are in need of help.

Example: To help the needy, I donate my old clothes to charity.

“The less fortunate”

Definition: this is another politically correct way to talk about the people who are in need of help.

Example: We help the less fortunate every year at Thanksgiving by working at a local food bank.

To come to the aid of someone/something

Definition: to help

Example: When the father of a local family lost his job, the community came to the aid of his family by helping with groceries and expenses.