312 Mason Street
San Francisco, CA 94102

Alternative Breaks

Make a difference in the community during your getaway to the City by the Bay!

San Francisco is home to thousands of dedicated nonprofits doing important work for the community. The following organizations welcome help from short-term volunteers, and are recommended for alternative spring, summer, or winter break activities.

In January and February, groups of up to eight or more people receive a free night’s stay (up to five nights) at a HI USA hostel for each day of volunteering in the local community as part of our Great Hostel Give Back initiative!

Take a look at some of the awesome  non-profit organizations below and make a booking for your gang at HI San Francisco Downtown, where you’ll connect with other travelers and get to know the city. 

Homelessness and Hunger

Glide Memorial Church
330 Ellis St.
Provides daily meal service for the disadvantaged.

The San Francisco Food Bank
900 Pennsylvania Ave.
Needs volunteers to sort, package, and distribute food.

The Welcome Ministry
3201 Ulloa St. 
Provides individual care to the homeless through arts, education, food and referrals. 

Hamilton Family Center
1631 Hayes St.
Provides food and shelter, as well as services that allow clients to return to self-sufficiency.

St. Gregory's Episcopal Church
500 De Haro St.
On Friday afternoons they serve nearly three tons of food to about 300 local families and individuals. There is also a Food Pantry one Sunday each month.

Martin de Porres Hospitality House
225 Potrero Ave.
Volunteers needed to serve breakfast (Mondays, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday, 6:00 - 8:15 a.m.) and lunch (Tuesday - Saturday, 9:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m.).

San Francisco Rescue Mission
230 Jones St.
Serves dozens of homeless with free breakfast each morning and free dinner every evening Monday through Friday. 

The Faithful Fools
234 Hyde St.
Aims to be present with and address the existence of poverty in the midst of material wealth, by meeting people where they are through arts, education, advocacy, and accompaniment.

A nonprofit ministry that provides support to homeless youth in the Polk Street neighborhood.

St. Anthony Foundation
150 Golden Gate Ave.
Aims to feed, heal, shelter, clothe, and lift the spirits of those in need.

Project Homeless Connect
Connects homeless individuals with services ranging from food and medical care to housing and skills development.

Larkin Street Youth Services
134 Golden Gate Ave. 
Helps youth move beyond street life through various programs. 

Raphael House
1065 Sutter St.
Helps homeless and at-risk families achieve stable housing and financial independence.

Home Away From Homelessness
Fort Mason, Building 33
Provides a physical, emotional, and spiritual refuge from the demands of the street.

Children of Shelters
2269 Chestnut St. 
Provides children living in homeless shelters with educational and cultural experiences to help them realize their potential.

AIDS Services

San Francisco AIDS Foundation
1035 Market St., Suite 400
Aims to change behavior, create personal commitment to safer sex, build community support for each individual, and live the belief that HIV transmission can be prevented. From staffing the California AIDS Hotline to supporting fundraising efforts, volunteers are a critical component of day-to-day work.

Asian and Pacific Islander Wellness Center
730 Polk St.
Aims to educate, support, empower, and advocate for Asian and Pacific Islander communities, particularly those living with, or at risk for, HIV/AIDS.

National AIDS Memorial Grove
Golden Gate Park
Holds regular monthly workdays to help maintain the Grove.

Project Open Hand
730 Polk St.
Provides "Meals With Love" to the elderly and people who are homebound and critically ill.

AIDS Housing Alliance
350 Golden Gate St. 
Provides resources for new housing and promotes public policy to increase opportunities for people with HIV/AIDS.

Dolores Street Community Services
938 Valencia St.
A residential care facility for adults living with HIV/AIDS.

AIDS Legal Referral Panel
1663 Mission St., Suite 500
Protects and advances the legal rights of people living with HIV/AIDS.

AIDS Emergency Fund
12 Grace St., Suite 300
Provides emergency financial assistance for people battling HIV/AIDS.

Healing Waters
167 Fell St.
Aims to empower, inspire, and enrich the lives of people challenging AIDS through wilderness adventures.

Project Inform
273 9th St.
Make a difference in the fight against AIDS by keeping patients educated and informed on the latest medication and treatment options. 

Animal Services

Pets are Wonderful Support (PAWS)
3170 23rd St. 
The time and effort volunteers invest helps hundreds of clients stay with their beloved animal companions..

San Francisco Rescued Orphan Mammal Program
879 47th Ave.
Programs include public education, rehabilitating injured/orphaned mammals for release back to the wild, habitat restoration, and biodiversity preservation.

The Environment

Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy
Conducts restoration projects within the National Parks in San Francisco.

San Francisco Recreation & Parks Natural Areas Programs
Renews parks and recreation centers through community service through planting and habitat restoration.

Friends of the Urban Forest
Learn hands-on skills such as tree identification and proper planting and pruning techniques, while forming connections with community members and their trees.


Zen Hospice Project
273 Page St.
Operates on a model that transcends "charity work," by encouraging a mutually beneficial relationship between volunteers and people who are dying.

Hospice by the Bay
180 Redwood St., Suite 350
Offers hospice care to patients facing life-threatening illnesses with a prognosis of six months or less.

730 Polk St.
Provides emotional and practical support to people with life-threatening illnesses.


Meals on Wheels
1375 Fairfax Ave.
Works to prevent the inappropriate or premature institutionalization of the city's homebound elderly.

Little Brothers Friends of the Elderly
909 Hyde St. #628
Provides outreach, advocacy, and companionship to isolated elders by visiting, socializing, and helping with household tasks.

Community Development

LYRIC - Lavender Youth Recreation and Information Center
127 Collingwood St. 
A community center for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning youth.

Mission Neighborhood Health Center
240 Shotwell St.
Aims to promote and preserve community-based health care.

Arab Cultural and Community Center
2 Plaza St.
Aims to promote mutual understanding between the Arab community and the community at large, working against prejudice and anti-Arab sentiments.