Service Opportunities & Events

Make an Impact with YouthFirst

Connect with teens from around the Bay Area as we address a range of challenges/issues facing our communities. Through advocacy projects and service-learning events, you can help make a difference through your actions and voice!

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Upcoming Opportunities

Two people smile and walk in the Pride paradeYouthFirst shows our PRIDE!

Sunday, June 30, 9:30am – 2:00pm | San Francisco
Join your YouthFirst friends for Pride! We’ll have a celebratory float, performers and music, and all participants get a free Pride tee. All ages and abilities are welcome.
Please note: Registration for anyone under 18 must be done by a parent/guardian. When you register, please make sure to check “YouthFirst” from the drop down menu. See you at Pride! REGISTER HERE
Questions? Reach out to Debra Massey at [email protected]

Ongoing Volunteer Opportunities

JFCS Conversation Partners

(PROGRAM FULL; Please check back again soon)

Connect with Ukrainian youth who recently relocated to the Bay Area! JFCS has helped many Ukrainian families transition to safety in the Bay. If you’d like to help a Ukrainian youth practice speaking in English, reach out to Merav Berger at [email protected] and she’ll set you up with your conversation partner!

Holocaust Survivor

Bring a Holocaust Survivor to Speak at Your School

Through firsthand accounts of the Holocaust, help students in your school learn about the importance of tolerance, embracing diversity, and combating hatred. Holocaust survivors as well as their descendants have a variety of experiences to share. Please take a few minutes to tell us a bit about you/your school here and to learn about what’s involved to bring this vital experiential learning opportunity to teens in your community. Questions? Ask Deborah Schneider at [email protected].

teen and childChild Care Crew with Jewish Baby Network

Do you love working with kids? Join our Child Care Crew in partnership with the Jewish Baby Network (JBN). JBN hosts regular gatherings in local parks, synagogues and schools that bring together Jewish families for fun learning and community building. Volunteers will play with and take care of children to give parents time to connect with one another. Sign up to become a Child Club Crew member here! Questions? Ask Merav Berger at [email protected].

Hand writing a letterLetter Writing to Homebound Seniors

Everyone loves to get handwritten notes, especially seniors! Help make an isolated senior’s day by writing a card, sending a joke, or drawing a picture, and let them know you are thinking about them. If you would like to write personal notes to ten seniors in our community, please contact Debra Massey at [email protected] for a list of names and instructions on where to send them.

food bank volunteersVolunteer with JFCS Food Banks

Our community faces an unprecedented need for food donations and deliveries. Our Food Banks have a variety of needs, including packing and delivering food bags to clients, receiving food donations, and assembling holiday-themed bags. Reach out to Debra Massey at [email protected] to find out how you can help in your local JFCS office.

HamsotService Learning-in-a-Box: Hamsah Project

Ongoing opportunity for schools, clubs, and youth groups
Bring luck and good fortune to people’s homes by creating a Hamsah: a traditional and multicultural symbol of protection often hung on a wall of a home’s entrance! Learn about Birkat Habayit, the Jewish blessing for the home, and explore ways you can help new community members feel protected and safe. Questions? [email protected] 

Past Service Projects

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A teen holds a tray of food in a free meal kitchen for the homelessPassover Mitzvah Magic – Feeding our Food Insecure Neighbors

This Passover, our Impact Year leaders and teen volunteers from all over San Francisco joined in collaboration with Glide Center for Social Justice to perform the mitzvah of Haachalat Reevim (feeding the hungry) by preparing and serving meals for thousands of food insecure members of our community.



colorful spring flowersCelebration of Colors: Springtime at Friendship Circle

We celebrated spring colors with Impact Year leaders and children from Friendship Circle, an organization that pairs high school students with children who have special needs. Our teen leaders spent an afternoon playing games, creating craft projects and making new friends.


Hearts for Hostages 

JFCS YouthFirst leaders advocated for the immediate release of the hostages in Gaza. Focusing on the Jewish value of pidyon shivuim (redeeming the captives), teen leaders joined in creating a collaborative artistic piece honoring Israeli hostages, which will be displayed at the Osher Marin JCC.



group of teens having a difficult conversation in a fieldNavigating Difficult Conversations – FOR TEENS

Sunday, March 31, 7:00 –8:30pm | Online

Speaking from the heart and listening to things you disagree with can be really hard — and even more so these days when tensions are running high Join Dr. Kathy Simon in an interactive workshop that will help guide us in difficult conversations with our peers and family. Let’s go beyond the trading of chants and slogans to meaningful dialogue. This session is offered to our community for free, thanks to the generosity of the Marin Donor Circle. REGISTER HERE! Questions? [email protected]

A hand sorting through a stack of VHS tapesMental Health at the Movies

Join YouthFirst Peer Mental Health Advocates to watch clips from famous movies highlighting mental health challenges. We will discuss how the film industry presents these issues and contrast it with what we know about them from our own lived experiences. Through small group discussion, we will learn how to support our peers when mental health challenges arise.


teens hands togetherCreativity, Community and Caring
Strategies to Support Mental Health for You and Your Friends

Our teen Peer Mental Health Advocates led us in a workshop where we learned how to recognize and support a friend when they are experiencing a mental health challenge

YouthFrist Members at Hidden VillaHiking at Hidden Villa

Impact Year teens embodied Shomrei Adama—taking care of our environmentand learned about the species growing along the trail. We also heard about the different ways Hidden Villa uses its vast acreage to grow produce for CSAs, protect local wildlife and native foliage growing along the property.

Teen volunteers making food for the hungryNourishing our Neighbors


Many of our San Francisco neighbors struggle each day to find their next meal. Impact Year leaders practiced the mitzvah of Haachalat Reevim (feeding the hungry) by cooking 100 meals to feed the needy.


dog with toySustainable Toys for Animals in Need

What do fashion and animal shelters have in common? The opportunity to explore the Jewish values of Ba’al Tashchit (recycling and repurposing) and Tza’ar Ba’aley Chaim (compassion for animals) of course! We explored the impact that the fashion and textile industries have on the environment and how we can transform old t-shirts and clothes into new toys for animals at local shelters and animal hospitals.


two women sing karaoke while smilingGame Night with our Neighbors!


Our volunteers joined up with City Hope Community Center to make an impact by serving our neighbors in the Tenderloin district a delicious dinner meal, singing karaoke together, and playing Bingo.

A photo of Anita Magnus FrankLiving Witness: Learn Firsthand from a Holocaust Survivor

YouthFirst Impact Year teens and the JFCS Holocaust Center’s Speakers Bureau invite you to join them as we welcome Anita—a survivor of the Holocaust—to tell her story. As we near 80 years since the end of WWII, our opportunity to hear the experiences from Holocaust survivors themselves dwindles. YouthFirst is fortunate to be able to share this unforgettable experience virtually to the entire Bay Area teen community. There will be time following the presentation for teens to ask questions and share their reflections. This event requires you to have a working camera on your computer.


a brown dog tugs on a chew toySustainable Toys for Dogs in Shelters

What do fashion and animal shelters have in common? The opportunity to explore the Jewish values of Ba’al Tachshit (recycling and repurposing) and Tza’ar Ba’aley Chaim (compassion for animals) of course! In collaboration with the Contemporary Jewish Museum, we will be exploring the impact that fabric manufacturing has on the environment and how we can transform old t-shirts into toys for dogs at local shelters. Make an impact with teens from all around San Francisco by bringing joy to our four-legged friends.

Caring for the Environment

Are you a guardian of the earth (shomrei adamah)? Volunteer with other teens in the community who are passionate about protecting the environment. We’ll be getting our hands dirty while having a lot of fun! Snacks will be provided to help fuel our group in this active service work.

Seeds for Smiles: Planting Succulents for a Sweet Home

Families living in temporary housing don’t always get the chance to decorate their living spaces. Bring a smile and embody the Jewish values of Bal Tachshit (repurposing) and G’milut Chassadim (acts of loving kindness) by creatively repurposing material into potted succulents as gifts for families living in San Mateo’s largest family shelter. Bring small, cleaned-out, recycled containers if you can (i.e., yogurt, pudding cups, etc.)


Teens' hands in a circleMitzvah Day with the OFJCC!

At the 23rd annual Mitzvah Day, hosted by the Oshman Family JCC, our YouthFirst Impact Year leaders spearheaded two projects addressing the issues of poverty, housing, and homelessness. We made warm fleece blankets for the housing insecure and had the opportunity to create a hamsa—a medallion that brings wishes of good fortune, luck and peace.

Hanukkah candles and dreidel

Celebrate the Season with Or (light) and A (love): Hanukkah at Moldow

Our volunteers celebrated with residents of the Moldow Retirement Community and explored the connection between Jewish continuity and light as they played dreidel, ate oily foods and kindled the fourth candle together.

Hanukkah menorah

Spreading the Hanukkah light: Supporting Survivors of Domestic Violence

Impact Year leaders and volunteers joined up to support survivors of domestic violence as they build their new lives. We created care packages for these brave survivors and joined together to light the 4th night of Hanukkah candles in hope and celebration to spread the light for all.

a brown dog tugs on a chew toy

Sustainable Toys for Dogs and Cats in Shelters

What do fashion and animal shelters have in common? It’s the opportunity to explore the Jewish values of Ba’al Tachshit (recycling and repurposing) and Tza’ar Ba’al Chaim (compassion for animals). Our volunteers explored the impact that fabric manufacturing has on the environment and how we can use old t-shirts to make toys for dogs and cats at local shelters.

Welcome our Newest Neighbors

Our volunteers said Baruch Habah (welcome!) to new Ukrainian neighbors in our community with homemade welcome baskets filled with essentials and special treats. This small act of kindness let them know that they are valued members of our community and made them feel more at home.

senior woman

Senior Connection: Poetry and Paper Flowers

Connecting with an elder is a Jewish value that embodies and honors generations of community.  Our teen-only event celebrated our older generation through the act of Kibbud by making paper flower bouquets, books of poems and quotes which were delivered to JFCS seniors in the North Peninsula.

Supporting Our Food-Insecure Neighbors

Our volunteers helped sort and organize the plentiful donations of food and supplies that came in from the JFCS High Holiday Food drive to provide healthy nourishment to JFCS Food Bank clients.


High Holiday Treats: Packing Holiday Bags

Our volunteers helped fill Rosh Hashanah (Jewish New Year) bags with holiday treats that will be delivered to families and seniors across the Bay Area who are unable to access these holiday supplies, and help them observe this wonderful holiday.

beesBee Kind to the Planet: Creating Temporary Habitats for Bees

At this sweet act of service for the environment, our volunteers learned how to turn everyday trash into a home for local bees! Cardboard paper towel rolls, toilet paper rolls, straws and plastic bottles were all upcycled into temporary habitats to support our endangered bee populations, and while we were at it, we helped ensure the world can have a sweet Rosh Hashanah (Jewish New Year).

Park Beautification for Rosh Hashanah

Our amazing volunteers helped keep Golden Gate Park clean and beautiful by replacing trash with our own hand-painted rocks with blessings for Rosh Hashanah (Jewish New Year). Our volunteers embodied the value of Gmilut Chassadim—acts of loving kindness—and shared sweet messages for the year ahead with all park visitors!

passover bagPassover Holiday Bags

Every year, JFCS provides Passover foods to Jewish families and seniors across the Bay Area who are unable to access these holiday supplies and treats to observe this wonderful holiday. Teen volunteers were invited to prepare the holiday bags for hundreds of JFCS clients.

Perks of Being a WallflowerPerks of a Being Wallflower: Exploring Friendship and Support

Through the eyes of high school freshman Charlie, we get a glimpse of the hurdles many teens face when starting off in a new social environment. And, if you have pre-existing mental health issues, it makes it that much harder! Participants explored the importance of peer-to-peer support, and gained new tools on how to be there for their friends who may be going through a rough time.

Tiny Homes, Big Impact

The Tiny House Empowerment Village for Bay Area youth facing homelessness is a project by Youth Spirit Artworks. The Jewish concept for a home includes far more than just walls and a roof—it requires that a home also be built with one’s hands, mind and heart. Teens from around the Bay Area helped with projects to maintain this incredible tiny home village for youth! Volunteers were also invited to enjoy a free burrito and bring in Shabbat together after the volunteer work.

JournalJournals for Survivors

Guided by the Jewish value of Gmilut Chassadim (acts of loving kindness), we supported survivors of domestic violence who are temporarily living in shelter with La Casa de las Madres. Our volunteers helped turn plain composition books into beautiful one-of-a-kind journals through collage & decorating, and were a part of the healing process for these courageous women.

People cleaning up hillsideEarth Day Restoration Project

Our guardians of the earth (shomrei adamah) volunteered with Marin County Parks and teens in the community who are passionate about protecting the environment. Together we got our hands dirty at a local park and helped protect native and rare species in the area.

space and planting soilSeeds for Smiles: Decorating Pots and Planting Seeds

Families living in temporary housing don’t often have the opportunity to decorate their living spaces. We combined the Jewish values of Bal Tachshit (repurposing) and G’milut Chassadim (acts of loving kindness) at San Mateo’s largest family shelter to decorate recycled material then planted seeds with the children who currently reside there.


Associate Director: Debra Massey; 415-359-2477

San Francisco: Inbal Shalev; 415-449-1291

North Peninsula: Merav Berger; 650-931-1834

South Peninsula: Deborah Schneider; 650-688-3059

Marin County: Kate-Alexandra Levine; 415-419-3641

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