Volunteers are the heart of Recovery Café San Jose. They are a diverse group of people who bring great compassion and truly enjoy working with our members. Volunteers range from young people in their early twenties to “young at heart” people in their eighties. Volunteers come from many walks of life and from many ethnicities making the Café rich in culture and free of discrimination.
Volunteers come to the Café for a variety of reasons. Some are in recovery themselves and give service as part of their program. Some have family or friends still in the throes of addiction or mental health challenges; helping at the Café eases their pain. Some volunteers come to the Café to learn how to work professionally with this population. Others perceive a societal need and feel compelled to help. Some volunteers are just beginning to accrue life experiences; others have advanced degrees and have traveled the world. A few volunteers come for a semester; others make a long-term commitment to our work. Every volunteer brings the gift of compassion for the time that they are at the Café. Every day when volunteers put on their name badges, everyone is “uniquely the same;” they are all here to be in community with staff, members and other volunteers to fulfill the mission of Recovery Café San Jose.
Volunteers have many opportunities to use their skills in the Café. For those who enjoy preparing meals, we have a kitchen and hungry folks to feed. For folks who have been blessed with creativity, the Café offers jam sessions, art experiences, writing workshops, and our delightful and enthusiastic chorus. It was a joy to see our members, women and men both, making hundreds of gorgeous paper flowers for our Closing the Gap Fundraising Breakfast on May 5th.
Volunteers work with members helping them to find jobs and the whole Cafe celebrates when someone finds work. Everyone celebrates birthdays with good cake and good wishes!
Volunteers, who have experience with support groups, might be invited to facilitate a Recovery Circle for our members. The Café often offers volunteer facilitated yoga, meditation, mindfulness, and recovery classes.
The most important gift every volunteer brings to the Cafe is incredible listening skill; our volunteers will sit beside members who might be mentally ill, homeless, perhaps only 24 hours without drugs or alcohol, and experiencing emotional anguish. Volunteers will engage them in meaningful and supportive conversation without judgment. Several members have said that coming to the Café saved their lives because it was the first time anyone said, “How are you?” and then really listened.
When a person comes into the Café for the first time, whether they are a potential member or a professional person seeking information, they become aware of the ambience of warmth and peace. There might be lively conversations in more than one language; there probably will be music, there could even be a little commotion as folks strive to find their place in the Café but with it all, there is a feeling of gentle kindness throughout.
A dictionary might define a volunteer as a “person who willingly donates time to perform a service.” At Recovery Café San Jose, we define a volunteer as a gentle, caring presence who gives hope, support and respect to our members and is the very heart of the Café.
Find out more about Volunteer Opportunities here.