16 Milwaukee Volunteering Opportunities for People Who Want to Give Back in 2018

If your New Year’s Resolution involved helping others in the community, you’re in luck: Milwaukee has a volunteer opportunity for every interest.

New Year’s chatter usually means folks trading resolutions, sometimes with a laugh. You’ll often hear vague pledges to “be more helpful,” or to “be nicer to people.” And while these are noble ambitions, their impact rests solely in the follow-through. As Ai Weiwei said, “A small act is worth a million thoughts.”

So this January, before the merciless hammer of February smashes your sweet little intentions, summon your inner Oprah to take action. Take a moment to be thankful (has it been since Thanksgiving?) because gratitude can be a stronger motivator than self-discipline when it comes to helping your fellow human. And the person you help will feel – you guessed it – grateful. And so on and so on.

If you’re passionate about…animals

Wildlife In Need Center

Help out with wildlife care, including food preparation, medical care, and cage cleaning. There are volunteer orientations February 6th, March 14th, and April 23rd. Phone: (262) 965-3090, email: contact@helpingwildlife.org

Happy Endings No Kill Cat Shelter

Help cats with socialization, help out at special events, and help find foster care for cats in need. Phone: (414) 744-3287, email: Volunteer@HappyEndings.us

Pet Therapy Volunteers for Hospice Patients at Seasons Hospice and Palliative Care

Bring your (certified) dog to visit and engage hospice patients in a most crucial time. Phone: (800) 379-5105

If you’re passionate about…combating hunger 

Hunger Task Force

Sort donated food so it can be delivered to the hungry, help farm produce, or hit the streets to raise awareness about hunger. Phone: (414) 777-0483, email: info@hungertaskforce.org

The Gathering

Volunteer as an individual or as a group to help those in need of a hot meal. Short-term and long-term opportunities are available. Phone: (414) 272-4122, email: soulfood@thegatheringwis.org

A young volunteer takes a break from picking up trash on the beach. Photo provided by Surfrider Foundation Milwaukee

If you’re passionate about…the environment 

River Revitalization Foundation

Get your feet wet and your hands dirty, and contribute to the preservation and conservation of recreation areas, critical habitat, and wildlife areas in Milwaukee’s river watersheds. Phone: (414) 271-8000 

Keep Greater Milwaukee Beautiful

Clean up, recycle, and beautify. Great for kids too. Phone: (414) 272-5462 x301, email: volunteer@kgmb.org

Surfrider Foundation Milwaukee

Beach cleanups won’t begin until the spring, but you can familiarize yourself with the organization while you dream of warmer days.

If you’re passionate about…empowering women

Milwaukee Women’s Center

Volunteer for a special event, answer calls on the crisis line, or spend time with kids at the Emergency Shelter. There are many ways to contribute here. Phone: (414) 449-4777, email: jkavanaugh@communityadvocates.net.


Tutor adult learners in writing and/or math, or help a woman prepare for interviews. Phone: (414) 374-1800, email: communication@ywcasew.org

Sojourner Family Peace Center

Contribute to lives impacted by domestic violence. Their mission is not only to protect women, but families as a whole. Phone: (414) 810-1826, email: lilyg@familypeacecenter.org

If you’re passionate about…older adults

Horizon Home Care and Hospice

Meals-on-Wheels volunteers are needed at the moment, as well as other volunteer roles. Phone: (414) 365-8300, email: volunteers@hhch.net

Interfaith Older Adult Programs

There are lots of ways to contribute to someones’s day-to-day life, like giving a ride, giving a check-in phone call, or shoveling their walkway. Phone: (414) 220-8655

Photo provided by Penfield Children’s Center

If you’re passionate about…youth


Empower and encourage youth and young adults who have endured trauma such as homelessness, poverty, violence, human trafficking, sexual abuse, teen pregnancy, and infant mortality, to name a few. Phone: (414) 964-2565, email: info@pathfindersmke.org

Boys and Girls Club

With over 50 clubs, the Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater Milwaukee offer many opportunities to enrich young people’s lives in a profound way.

Penfield Children’s Center

Penfield tries to give infants and children, many of whom have disabilities, a positive start in life. Here, volunteers can assist classroom therapists and teachers in many ways including skill-building activities, rocking, feeding, and just playing.