Want to help? Oh, you have options

Rochester is home to 425 nonprofits and all of them could use your help.

We are part of The Trust Project.

With more than 425 nonprofit organizations, Rochester is rich with volunteer opportunities.

And a recent study by the Minnesota Compass Project concluded that more than 41 percent of Minnesota adults volunteer throughout the year.

So where should you volunteer in our community?

“We applaud the volunteer spirit and encourage people to seek opportunities with organizations of interest to them,” says Sue Mackert, executive director for PossAbilities of Southern Minnesota in Rochester. “We welcome volunteers who wish to make a difference in the lives of individuals who face daily challenges with grace and optimism.”

Here are nine places to volunteer in the Rochester community:


The Landing MN

The Landing MN staff member Chelsea Calvert counts out lunches before serving them to guests.
Traci Westcott / Post Bulletin

More info:

Mission: To build trust, give hope, and support steps toward stability for those experiencing homelessness

What volunteers will discover: People who are experiencing homelessness are just like the rest of us, says Dan Fifield, the Landing MN’s co-founder, CEO, and president. “People come to volunteer and see these people are just human beings in a bad situation,” he says. “They’re not a whole lot different than what you are.”

Volunteer base: The Landing has an impressive volunteer base of 500 people, but Fifield guesses more like 50 are regular participants. Once The Landing MN opens its new day center—which has an expected opening date of Nov. 1—a significant number of volunteer opportunities will open up.

What volunteers do: Building maintenance, prepping and cooking meals, sorting donations, and working directly with guests.

When volunteers are needed: In their new building, The Landing MN will be seeking volunteers to help serve meals and handle donations coming into the facility.

Bolder options

Bolder Options Tailgate Sportacular
Lucas Carisch, right, high-fives Landon Phan, 9, left, of Austin, after attempting the free throw contest during Bolder Options Tailgate Sportacular.
Andrew Link / Post Bulletin

More info: or


Mission: To provide youth with opportunities to help them reach their full potential. This is done through building a support network by connecting them with a caring adult.

How can people help: Become a mentor and be matched with a youth.

What do they need right now: Male mentors. “We always have a waiting list for boys, which is truly unfortunate,” says Scott Robinson, Bolder Options program director. “We would love to serve more youth but we cannot do so unless we have more mentors.”

A heart-warming volunteer story: Earlier this year, Robinson had a former mentee contact him and say he’d like to be a mentor. “I was so excited to see things come full circle,” he says. “The program clearly had a huge impact on his life and he wanted to give back.”

What volunteers do: Volunteers are encouraged to be active with their mentee. Bolder Options is a one-on-one mentoring program that focuses on healthy living and physical activity.

When volunteers are needed: Mentors spend 2-4 hours a week with their mentee. The two set up their own meeting schedule. For mentors, it’s a year-long commitment.

PossAbilities of Southern Minnesota

PossAbilities Valentine's Cards
Aly Steffen, center, PossAblities STARS Too program manager, helps Ali Bishop, left, and Nathan Ellis, right, who are both STARS participants, make Valentine's Day cards on Thursday, Feb. 10, 2022, at PossAbilities in Rochester. Cards made on Thursday will be delivered to residents at Edenbrook of Rochester on Valentine's Day.
Joe Ahlquist / Post Bulletin

More info: Stacy Shones, 507-281-6116, or , or fill out a form at


Mission: PossAbilities is a day-service provider that creates opportunities for children and adults with disabilities to contribute to and connect with the community.

How can people help: Assisting program staff with reading, music, arts, field trips and other activities; assisting with transportation; helping with clerical skills, performing facility maintenance support; or helping with fundraising efforts.

What do they need right now: Artists, musicians, someone to assist with clerical functions and tour arrangements. They also need a research fellow to help collect data and develop surveys for proposed projects.

What volunteers do: Work with programming staff, teach art, play music, paint walls, work on special events, chaperone field trips, work outdoors and support management with administrative duties.

When volunteers are needed: Part-time, season or full-time volunteers to work when PossAbilities is open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. They also accept high school and college students looking to earn school credit.

Hiawatha Homes

Wendy Cook places an ornament on her ÒHome of the FreeÓ themed tree while preparing for the Festival of Trees Saturday, Nov. 13, 2021, at The Empire Event Center in Rochester.
Traci Westcott / Post Bulletin

More info: Stephanie Rudeen at or 507-226-0700. Or go to

Mission: They provide services and support for people living with disabilities in Olmsted County at home and in the community.

What do they need right now: People to offer companionship services one-on-one with a person with a disability who lives at Hiawatha Homes. Also, hundreds are needed for the organization’s annual Festival of Trees fundraiser, which is held in November each year.

What volunteers discover: That people with disabilities aren’t all that different from you and me. “Once you start volunteering, you’ll see how similar they are to you,” says Stephanie Rudeen, Foundation director for Hiawatha Homes.

Why you should help: By volunteering here, you provide accessibility to the community to people who might otherwise not have that. Remember that Hiawatha Homes serves people with higher medical needs, and without the organization many of these folks wouldn’t be able to live in a community-based home.

Rochester Public Library


More info: or Marilyn Campbell at 507-328-2341

Mission: Welcoming all to connect and learn.

How can you help: Helping customers in their Friends of the Library Bookstore, sorting donation materials, or helping with their collection of resources.

What do they need right now: Volunteers with the Friends of the Library to help in the bookstore.

What do volunteers do: Bookstore clerks, scanning/indexing for the Post-Bulletin archive, shelf reading (which is when someone checks to make sure every call number is in the proper order on the shelf), and as homebound book selectors.

When volunteers are needed: Bookstore shifts can be three hours, and shelf-reading can be 20-30 minutes, said Jeremiah Baumann, the library’s head of marketing and community engagement.

National Alliance on Mental Illness Southeast Minnesota


More info: or volunteer coordinator Ali Carryer at 507-316-0926 or

Mission: Improves mental wellness through listening, advocating, informing, and leading.

How can you help: Fundraise, help with programs and events, and advocate for people with mental illnesses.

What do they need right now: Office support, event help, peer support volunteers, and group facilitators. Also looking to create an advisory committee of volunteers that is composed of people who represent all of the major mental health disorders.

Why should you help: During the pandemic, one in three adults reported experiencing symptoms of anxiety or depression. This has compounded an already serious mental health crisis in our community, says volunteer coordinator Ali Carryer.

What do volunteers do: Office support, event orchestration, group facilitation and peer support.

When do they need people: Monday through Thursday from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Also need volunteers on Tuesday and Wednesday evenings to facilitate support groups.

Ability Building Community

ABC Ability Building Center Fall Prom
Karl Thoreson and Chelsea Koop dance during the ABC Ability Building Center Fall Prom event as part of their United Way Week fundraiser Wednesday, Oct. 3, 2018, in Rochester.
Joe Ahlquist / Post Bulletin

More info: and

Mission: To be inclusive and help individuals with disabilities find careers

What do they need right now: Relief for their direct support professionals. They have a long list of people who would like to work, but because they don’t have the necessary direct support professionals, they are unable to do so.

What would volunteers do: Mow the lawn, do some gardening, help with fundraisers, assist in rec and leisure program. Volunteers must be 18 years old or older to volunteer here.

When do they need people: Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. “You’re going to have fun here,” says Matt Lambert, ABC’s communications and development specialist. “People are very passionate about what they do here. It’s a good thing to do if you’re retired, or working part-time. I would stress the flexibility we have here.”

Minnesota Adult & Teen Challenge

High angle of teenagers meeting
Teenagers in a meeting.
KatarzynaBialasiewicz/Getty Images/iStockphoto

More info: 507-218-3477, or

Mission: Help people find freedom from addiction and other life controlling issues.

How can you help: Facilitating anything from Bible studies to AA discussions, group meetings, which are primarily held on evenings and weekends. Teach women how to garden, crochet, and lead a meditation class with stretching and Bible readings. Also seeking a person to serve as a silent auction volunteer for next year’s fundraising gala.

What do they need right now: Mentors. A mentor essentially walks beside a client throughout the program and beyond. These mentors support clients in their faith journey, provide real-life application, conversation and activities. The only requirements is that the mentor have a mature Christian faith, are at least 25 years of age or older, have a valid driver’s license, are and able to meet twice a month.

Why you should help: “Because you’re saving someone’s life,” says David Hunter, center director for Minnesota Adult & Teen Challenge. “The addiction problem has transcended into every area and location in Minnesota.”

When do they need volunteers: Evenings and weekends.

Gift of Life Transplant House


More info: or and fill out a volunteer form.

Mission: Gift of Life Transplant House provides high quality affordable accommodations to transplant patients and their caregivers in a supportive, home-like environment

How can people help: As tour guides, and as receptionists to cover for staff when they take lunch from noon to 2 p.m. You’ll answer the phones, call for the shuttle, and interact with Gift of Life Transplant House guests. Laundry help is also needed.

What do they need right now: People who are willing to organize activities for guests. Those activities could include bingo, card making, and jewelry making. “We’re not a nursing home, not assisted living,” says Mary Wilder, executive director for the Gift of Life Transplant House. “The guests are gone during the day but in the early evening hours, that is when they enjoy having something to do.”

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