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How to volunteer in San Diego

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Thank you for your interest in assisting refugees, asylees, and low-income families in our community. By volunteering with the IRC, you can share your unique experience and skills directly with IRC clients. Volunteer support is an integral part of the IRC's mission to provide opportunities for refugees to thrive in America. 

If you are looking for internship opportunities, please click here. 

If you would like a general overview of our work and ways to help, RSVP for an info session:

Friday, July 7th - At Next Door Craft Beer & Wine

Wednesday, July 26th 12pm to 1pm - At the IRC City Heights Office

The Volunteer Process:

  1. Review our volunteer positions below and choose 3 that best fit your interests, skills, and schedule.
  2. Complete a volunteer application by following this link. You will be contacted by the Volunteer Coordinator as needs arise for your chosen position.
  3. After your application is reviewed, you may be selected for an interview.
  4. Once the interview is confirmed and conducted, successful interviewees will complete the necessary background checks*. To protect our clients, we require background checks for all our volunteers, and we ask volunteers to make a $49 donation to cover associated costs. Currently, 92% of our funding goes directly to our clients, and your help to cover this cost allows us to continue providing the best service possible. This step can add 1-2 weeks to the process, but is typically very fast.
  5. Once cleared, you will attend a general orientation before training and scheduling the first day.

*You must be 18 years or older to volunteer and complete a background check. For High School Opportunities, please email VolunteerSD [at] Rescue.org or see our Youth Ambassador Program page.

Things to note:

  • Most positions require a 3 month volunteer commitment with 5 hours per week. If this is not feasible for you, please VolunteerSD [at] Rescue.org (subject: On-Call%20Inquiry) (email us) about our on-call opportunities.
  • Please email VolunteerSD [at] Rescue.org with questions.

Six Departments to Choose From

  1. Youth Programs
  2. Center for Financial Opportunity
  3. Immigration
  4. Food Security and Community Health
  5. Resettlement
  6. Administration 


Youth Programs

Program Description: The IRC Youth Programs provides academic assistance and productive extracurricular activities for refugee teens in high school and middle school, whose education has often been interrupted by war or years in refugee camps.

Summer Girls Soccer Coach Assistant

Minimum commitment of twice a week over a 5 week period (July 5- August 3rd). Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays from 2PM to 6PM at City Heights IRC Office and Colina Del Sol Park.


Assist and support Summer Soccer Camp for refugee girls aged 11-20 years old. The program will use soccer as a means to build team-working skills and promote good self-esteem. Assist in planning and execution of Girls Summer Camp activities. Present creative ideas to create a positive and enriching environment for all participants.


Experience playing in a soccer team. Experience working with Youth (ages (11-20). Experience working with refugees or English Language Learners. 

After School Tutor (High School)

Minimum 3 month commitment, Tuesdays and Thursdays 2:15-5:00PM at Crawford High School or City Heights IRC Office


Assist high school students with homework completion.


Experience working with youth (ages 13-18) in High school; Experience tutoring or working in an academic setting; Experience working in a diverse, multi-cultural setting; Experience working with refugees or English Language Learners.


Center for Financial Opportunity

Employment/Career Development

Program Description: The IRC helps newly arrived refugees find their first job in the US by teaching job search skills and coordinating with employers. For clients with a professional background, the IRC helps them re-enter their profession in a timely manner.

Front Desk Assistant

Minimum 3 month commitment, at least 6 hours per week (2 shifts), Mondays - Fridays, 8:30am-1pm and 1pm-5pm in the City Heights Office.


Extensive communication with clients both in-person and over the phone; Evaluating clients’ requests and directing them to relevant IRC services or staff; Updating the job leads database & JTAL google volunteer site to ensure all files are up-to-date; Providing general administrative and logistical support to CFO staff


Proficient in the use of computers and relevant programs such as Microsoft Office, Chrome, etc.; Personable with an ability to work within a multicultural environment; Effective communicator who is able to bridge the gap that is often presented by language barriers; Previous reception experience and/or Arabic, Farsi or Somali language abilities are a plus.


Microenterprise Program

Program Description: IRC's Microenterprise Program supports refugees to start and expand their own businesses by providing intensive technical assistance and access to capital. The IRC has aided in the start of over 272 business and 150 expansions.

All Microenterprise program positions are currently full, please check back soon!

Financial Education

Program Description: The Financial Education Program teaches clients the basics of the US financial system, encouraging good habits in budgeting, credit, taxes, and banking.

All Financial Education volunteer positions are currently full however internships are available.



Program Description: The IRC Immigration Department assists more than 800 people to become United States citizens each year. The IRC also helps families separated by war to reunite.

Front Desk Assistant

Minimum 3 month commitment, minimum 9 hours a week. Shifts available: Monday – Friday, 8:30am-1pm or 1pm-5pm in the City Heights Office.


Greet and assist clients at high-volume front desk, both in person and over the phone; Maintain Immigration Caseworker calendar, scheduling and confirming client appointments; Correspondence processing, database updates and maintenance, file making and management; Assist the Immigration and Resettlement departments with various tasks, as needed.


Experience with Microsoft Office, Google apps, and multi-line telephones; Customer service experience; Proficiency in a second language (especially Arabic, Spanish, Somali, Vietnamese, Farsi); Regular attendance required.

Food Security and Community Health

Program Description: The IRC coordinates the City Heights Farmers’ Market on Saturdays from 9am to 1pm, and the Downtown El Cajon Farmers’ Market on Thursdays from 3pm to 7pm.

Farmers Market Arabic Translator

Minimum 3 month commitment, Thursdays from 2:30-6:30PM in El Cajon and City Heights


Translate Arabic to English at the farmers' market; Lead events at the market; Help run the Fresh Fund booth, translate surveys, translate flyers on Word, conduct surveys; Keep track of all places and communities that volunteer flyers.


Speaking, writing, reading Arabic; Must be able to handle and manage cash at the market; Conduct a respectful and inclusive demeanor.

Fresh Fund Volunteer

Minimum 3 month commitment, Thursdays 2:30pm-7:15pm, Saturdays 8:45pm-1:15pm. Shifts can be broken up to meet scheduling conflicts.


Verify eligibility and enroll participants in database; Collect, track, and distribute funds; Administer data collecting tools (i.e.-surveys); Setup and breakdown of farmers’ market booth (accommodations can be made); Interact with all participants in a dignifying manner.


Interest in social justice and/or food security; Attention to detail; Previous experience working with diverse populations is a plus; Proficiency in a Spanish, Arabic, Chaldean, Vietnamese, Karen or Swahili is a plus.

Food Security Office Assistant

Minimum 3 months, flexible Thursday-Friday with occasional Saturdays in the City Heights Office.


Process gardener payments; Organize contracts and paperwork; Make list of late payments, other office related tasks; Help with garden workdays


Commit to consistent volunteer hours; Reliable; Detail orientated; Good organizing skills; Extremely comfortable with excel


Program Description: From greeting refugees at the airport and providing a safe, furnished apartment to registering children in school, the Resettlement Department's multi-lingual staff members assist new refugees in rebuilding their lives.

All Resettlement positions are currently full, please check back soon!



Department Overview: The IRC depends on volunteers, development, and nonprofit management to complement our services, with more than 400 volunteers throughout the year. There is a wide variety of tasks for volunteers, including tutoring, employment assistance, and tax help.

All Administration positions are currently full. Please see our internships page for more options.