Give Time: Volunteering at Haley House

Volunteers at McKinley Collaborative Garden

Volunteers at McKinley Collaborative Garden

Since our doors first opened in 1966, volunteers have been the lifeblood of Haley House. We always welcome new friends to come, enjoy, be with us, and reflect on the work we have done together.

Please read this page carefully before beginning the volunteer application below. Thank you!

We do our best to accommodate volunteer interest, but we ask for your patience as we process your application. We receive a high volume of requests. Since we rely heavily on volunteers from local colleges during the school year, we are MOST in need of volunteers during school holidays (winter & spring breaks and summer).  

Live-In Volunteer Community: If you are interested in joining the full-time Live-In Volunteer Community, please complete and submit the Volunteer Application Form.

Individual Volunteers: Individuals who are 17 or older are encouraged to fill out a volunteer application. Please see a list of volunteer opportunities below.

Groups: Our hearts are big, but our kitchens and dining rooms are not! Generally, we are only able to only accept volunteer groups of up to six people. We welcome groups to volunteer at Community Tables, Dudley Square Clean-Ups, Garden Workdays, and occasional special projects (e.g., cleaning, maintenance, and outdoor projects). If your group fits within these parameters, please fill out a volunteer application (one per group). 

University Partnerships: Please visit our program-specific pages if you are volunteering through Boston College’s PULSE program or Northeastern University’s Civic Engagement Program. If you represent a university and are interested in setting up a new partnership, please email our Volunteer Coordinator at volunteer@haleyhouse.org.

Click here to fill out a Volunteer Application


Dress Code

The dress code applies to Community Tables, the Soup Kitchen, Haley House Bakery Café, and Take Back the Kitchen classes. All volunteers are encouraged to dress modestly. Please note that clothes may be ruined with bleach or food stains. Per health code requirements, volunteers must wear:

• Long pants (preferably jeans/canvas pants; not leggings)
• A shirt with sleeves (short sleeves are okay, but underarms must not show)
• Closed-toed shoes that have a good grip
• A head-covering (a baseball hat or bandana covering all hair; long hair must be tucked under a head covering or secured in a bun or a ponytail)
• Hairnets and aprons are available for volunteers


Volunteer Opportunities by Program

Soup Kitchen

Our Soup Kitchen at 23 Dartmouth Street is open six days a week. We serve breakfast for homeless men in the mornings Sunday through Friday. We also serve lunch to neighborhood elders (Elder Meal) on Tuesday, Thursday, and Sunday afternoons. Volunteers help to cook, serve, and clean up, and are encouraged to enjoy the company of our Soup Kitchen guests and partake of the meal. Each Soup Kitchen shift ends with a guided reflection. Our Food Pantry is open on Thursdays. Volunteers help with set-up, food distribution, and clean up.  The schedule of services offered at the Soup Kitchen is as follows:

• Breakfast: Monday-Friday 5:30 am-10:00 am/ Sunday 9:00 am-1:00 pm
Elder Meal: Tuesday & Thursday 12-3:30 pm / Sunday 1:00-5:00 pm
Food Pantry: Thursday 10:00 am-12:00 pm


Community Tables

Community Tables is more than just a delicious meal. It’s a time to share stories and celebrate community. At Haley House, we believe that food should be healthful, locally sourced, and affordable. That’s why we made this meal pay-what-you-can, which means we accept donations for the meal based on what customers can offer—even if that’s nothing at all. Community Tables takes place every Saturday evening at Haley House Bakery Café on 12 Dade Street in Roxbury. Volunteers arrive before the meal to prepare food and set up the space and then are invited to join our guests at the communal table when the meal is served. Volunteers also help to clean up after the meal. Volunteers should plan to arrive at the Bakery Café at 3:00 pm and leave at 8:00 pm (Saturdays).  


Take Back the Kitchen is a cooking and nutrition program for youth and families. Cooking classes emphasize cooking from scratch, trying new foods, and understanding the personal and social impacts of how we eat. Volunteers assist our professional chefs in preparing before the class (e.g., setting up cutting boards, laying out ingredients, etc.), help students during the class, and help to clean up afterwards. Cooking classes take place at both of our sites (23 Dartmouth Street and 12 Dade Street) and may also occur off-site at times; schedules vary. Volunteers may sign up to help with an individual class or for a series of classes. 


Urban Gardening

Welcome to McKinley Garden

Welcome to McKinley Garden

Haley House has two urban farming sites: adjacent to our Soup Kitchen in the South End and in the Highland Park section of Roxbury. In the South End, we partner with McKinley South End Academy (a K-12 Boston Public School), to offer year-round classes incorporating garden and nutrition into their normal classroom curriculum. McKinley Collaborative Garden is located adjacent to our Soup Kitchen, on Montgomery Street between Dartmouth and Clarendon Streets. Volunteers are invited to help maintain the outdoor “classroom” during monthly workdays, which occur on Saturdays from 10:00 am-1:00 pm. Depending on the time of year, volunteers help with a range of tasks including planting, weeding, watering, painting garden signs, and even pie-baking for our Soup Kitchen. 

Our second urban agriculture site is located in Roxbury’s Highland Park community (Thornton Community Gardens & Farm).  Since this site is still in development, energetic volunteers are very much needed! This spring and summer, volunteers will help clearing land, constructing raised garden beds, planting, and assisting with regular garden maintenance. All necessary tools and supplies are provided and no prior experience is necessary. Please remember to wear garden-ready clothing. 


Transitional Employment Program

The Transitional Employment Program (TEP) strives to break the cycle of incarceration by supporting men and women returning home to the community. The cornerstone of this job and life-skills training program is the TEP Cookie Bake, through which trainees are given real (paid) work experience producing chocolate chip cookies for wholesale. The sale of these cookies helps to offset program costs and sustain the program. Volunteers are needed to help with the Cookie Bake on Monday evenings, starting at 5:00 pm, at the Haley House Bakery Café at 12 Dade Street in Roxbury. Volunteers help to prepare labels, scoop cookie dough, package cookies, and wash dishes.


Art is Life itself!

Each Thursday evening from 7:00 pm-10:00 pmHaley House offers evenings filled with music, readings, film screenings, and open-mic time. Bring your friends and come early for a delicious dinner and the best seats! Check out AiLi’s Facebook page for the most up-to-date event scheduling. Volunteer tasks include cleaning, organizing, and general assistance during the event.


The House Slam

Every 2nd and 4th Friday evening beginning at 6 pm, the House Slam event offers an eclectic open-mic, a polished featured poet, and a competitive poetry slam. Check out The House Slam’s own website for the current schedule. Volunteer tasks include cleaning, organizing, and general assistance during the event.


Dudley Square Clean-Up (for Groups)

Join in our “Haley House Loves Dudley” project: this is an excellent way for new volunteers to get to know Haley House and our work and contribute to the beautification of our Roxbury neighborhood.  Volunteers pick up trash in and around Dudley Square and help with general maintenance at our Haley House Bakery Café at 12 Dade Street. Volunteer groups are welcome on a case-by-case basis on Saturdays from 9 am to 12:30 pm. Following shift, we encourage groups to purchase lunch at the Bakery Café to further support our programs.


Housing Clean-Up (for Groups) 

Haley House’s permanent affordable housing program is sometimes in need of volunteer groups to help with maintenance and cleaning. Our housing buildings are located in the South End community. These projects are scheduled on a case-by-case basis.


Office/IT/Design/Event Planning

Haley House welcomes volunteers who have special skills to contribute to our mission. We are especially in need of assistance with information technology, graphic design, event planning, and administrative work at our office on 23 Dartmouth Street. Volunteers are welcomed during our normal office hours (9 am-5 pm, Monday-Friday). 


Note: Haley House does not perform background checks on any volunteers. If you still have questions about volunteering at Haley House, contact our Volunteer Coordinator by emailing volunteer@haleyhouse.org