Be the difference between zero and one for a San Franciscan in need of compassionate support.

Founded in 1974, Shanti was one of the first volunteer organizations in the United States to work with terminally ill individuals, and later became one of the very first community-based HIV/AIDS organizations in the world. Each year, hundreds of Shanti volunteers provide emotional and practical peer support services to some of San Francisco’s most underserved individuals, from those with challenges such as HIV/AIDS, women’s cancer, and other life-threatening illnesses to LGBTQ+ seniors and adults with disabilities facing isolation.

Animal lovers also help keep those most at risk in our community together with their beloved pets within our PAWS Program (Pets Are Wonderful Support). Volunteers provide a continuum of services such as dog walking, distributing and delivering pet food from the PAWS food bank, transporting pets and clients to vet appointments, and providing temporary pet foster care.

Join a community of over 15,000 individuals in and around the Bay Area who have served as Shanti volunteers by contacting us today at (415) 674-4751 or by email.

Ways to Get Involved

Peer Support Volunteers get paired one-on-one with Shanti clients who may be women with cancer, people living with HIV, Hepatitis C, adults with disabilities, or LGBTQ+ seniors. Peer Support Volunteers provide our clients with emotional support (supportive listening, conversation, companionship) and practical assistance (light housekeeping, errands, laundry, cooking, pet care) on a weekly basis for a minimum of six months. Before being matched with a client, each volunteer must attend one of our Peer Support trainings, which takes place over an entire weekend.

If you are interested, please complete a volunteer application. Age requirement: 18+.

Upcoming Peer Support Volunteer Training

The Spring training is scheduled to be in-person at the PAWS office, and we will require proof of full vaccination.

July 2022 Training (tentative schedule)

  • Friday, July 22nd: 6:00 – 9:00 pm
  • Saturday, July 23rd:  10:00 am – 6:00 pm
  • Sunday, July 24th: 10:30 am – 6:30 pm

This is in-person training. Because we will have guest panelists who are immune-compromised, we will require proof of  full vaccination from participants to join this training. We will also ask that masks be worn during our guest panel.

Interested in attending? Complete a volunteer application.

PAWS Pet Assistance Volunteers

Volunteers assist clients in our PAWS Program by caring for their pets through supportive pet care services. These services include:

  • Dog-walking
  • In-home cat care
  • Foster care
  • Transports to and from the veterinarian
  • Specialized animal care (nail clipping, bathing, subcutaneous fluids)
  • Veterinarian and Vet Tech volunteering
  • Pet food distribution through our onsite food bank
  • Pet food preparation and delivery to home bound clients

If you are interested in becoming a PAWS Pet Support Volunteer, please complete the PAWS volunteer application. Age requirement: 16+.

Additional Individual Volunteer Opportunities

Shanti offers other ways for you to get involved including:

  • HIV Services Drop-In Center or Activities Desk
  • Client Wellness Workshops, Classes and Services (Daytime or evening): volunteers plan and implement educational, cultural, or recreational activities (Tai Chi, writing, art, etc.) or offer a service (haircuts, massage, nutrition, resume writing, etc.).
  • Social Service Field Work/Internships: Quality supervision and meaningful experiences for students in need of practicum or internship experiences across Shanti programs.
  • Administrative Support in our offices
  • Pro-bono Skills-based Support (such as photography/videography, technical assistance)

Volunteer opportunities are offered for English or non-English speakers. For more information, contact Volunteer Services at (415) 674-4751 or by email.


Group volunteering provides a wonderful way to promote team-building, support your local community, and have a good time!

We love hosting corporate and philanthropic volunteer groups! Depending on the size of your group, desired schedule, and strengths, you can contribute in many ways to Shanti’s mission of improving the lives of San Francisans as they face life’s most difficult challenges. Visit our Group Volunteer page for more information.