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Volunteering at Haley House

Volunteers at McKinley Collaborative Garden

Volunteers at McKinley Collaborative Garden

Since our doors first opened in 1966, volunteers have truly been the lifeblood of Haley House. We always welcome new friends to come by, share in the warmth of our community, and reflect on the work we have done together. With the diversity and breadth of our program offerings, we believe there is something for everyone here. If you are interested in joining the full-time Live-In Volunteer Community, click here.

*** All volunteer shifts for Christmas Day are currently booked, but we still have plenty of spots in the coming weeks and surrounding the holiday. ***



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).  If you don’t hear back from us, it is likely because your availability is not compatible with our immediate needs. 

Individual Volunteers: Individuals who are 18 or older are encouraged to fill out a volunteer application. Please see a list of volunteer opportunities below. (Individuals under 18 may be considered for some programs but will likely need permission and supervision from a parent/guardian).

Groups: Our hearts are big, but our kitchens and dining rooms are quite small! Generally, for kitchen programs we are only able to only accept volunteer groups of up to 8 people and for outdoor workdays up to 20. We welcome groups to volunteer at Community Tables, Soup Kitchen Elder Meal, and seasonal 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 group volunteer application (one per group).


If your group is more than 10 people, it is unlikely that we will be able to host you October through March while our outdoor programming is not running. 


Please click below to fill out our volunteer application:

Individual Volunteer Application      Group Volunteer Application


University Partnerships: Please visit our program-specific page if you are volunteering through Boston College’s PULSE program. If you represent a university and are interested in setting up a new partnership, please email our Volunteer Coordinator

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 be covered)

• 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 here for volunteers to use on the shift


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 by sitting down and partaking in the meals. Each Soup Kitchen shift ends with a brief guided reflection. Our Food Pantry is open on Thursdays. Volunteers help with set-up, food distribution, and clean up.


Volunteer shifts:

• Breakfast: Monday-Friday 5:30 am-10:00 am/ Sunday 9:00 am-1:00 pm

• Elder Meal: Tuesday & Thursday 12-4 pm / Sunday 1:00-5:00 pm

Food Pantry: Thursday 10:00 am-12:00 pm

Tasks may include prepping food, cooking, baking, serving, eating with guests, cleanup, reflecting, food distribution, data entry

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. We encourage volunteers to serve as “conversation facilitators” and engage their table mates in candid conversation. Volunteers finish off their shift by helping to clean up after the meal.

Volunteer Shifts: Saturdays, 3 pm until 8 pm.

Tasks may include set-up, prepping food, cooking, baking, plating, serving, eating with guests, bussing tables, dishwashing, cleaning up.

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, but preference is given to volunteers able to commit to all of the classes in a session, when applicable.


Volunteer Shifts: Dependent on scheduled programming

Tasks may include prepping food, cooking, baking, eating/trying foods, dishwashing, general cleaning, nutritional education, reflecting

Urban Farming & 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.  McKinley Collaborative Garden is located adjacent to our Soup Kitchen, on Montgomery Street between Dartmouth and Clarendon Streets.  Thornton Street Farm is located in Roxbury’s Highland Park community near Dudley Square.  Group and individual volunteers are welcome throughout the growing season.  All necessary tools and supplies are provided and no prior experience is necessary. Please contact our farm team or volunteer coordinator for more information.

Tasks may include planting, weeding, seed-collecting, watering, painting/making garden signs, harvesting, planning

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.

Volunteer Shifts: Mondays, 3 pm – 11 pm (can be any 4-hour slot in that range)

Tasks may include mixing, scooping cookie dough, packaging cookies, preparing/applying labels, washing dishes, general cleaning

Art is Life itself!

Each Thursday evening from 7 pm-10 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 shift: Thursdays, 6 pm – 10 pm.

Tasks include cleaning, organizing, orienting guests, and general event support.)

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 shift: 2nd and 4th Fridays 6 pm – 11 pm

Tasks include set up, check-in/greeting, answering questions, break down, clean up, general event support

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.

Volunteer Shift: By special request

Tasks depend on specific interests and abilities

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.

Volunteer Shift: By special request

Tasks may include sweeping, organizing, scrubbing, dusting, basic repairing/building, basic carpentry

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.

Volunteer Shift: Monday through Friday from 9-5

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.