Giving Back on the Grid

By Amy Thoma

I consider it both a responsibility and privilege to use my skills to help people around me.

My mom ran a homeless center for 10 of my formative years and so I’ve never considered public service a choice—just something you do.

When I moved to Sacramento I quickly found out that there is no shortage of opportunities to help those around you.

Here are a few.

  • The GreenHouse Center in South Natomas is an amazing organization. I’ve volunteered here for about 3 years and I love it! The center focuses on providing tutoring, healthy snacks, enrichment opportunities and college-readiness to some of Sacramento’s cutest and challenged kids. I’ve tutored, taken kids to Kings games, seen both Twilight movies with our teenaged students and loved every minute of it.
  • Loaves and Fishes is Sacramento’s largest community center serving our homeless population. More than 1,000 volunteers make their programs run each month and they desperately need help! Loaves and Fishes is actually on the Grid, easily accessible and well-run.
  • WEAVE:  WEAVE is the primary provider of crisis intervention services for survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault in Sacramento County. They need help answering their 24-hour crisis line, office assistance and volunteers for their retail shops. WEAVE is working to end domestic violence and sexual assault in our neighborhoods—definitely a cause worth supporting.
  • American River Parkway Foundation: If nature is your passion, the American River Parkway Foundation regularly cleans up and maintains one of Sacramento’s best assets—the American River Parkway. As budget cuts affect our parks and public land organizations like the Parkway Foundation are filling critical gaps and ensuring the trail doesn’t fall into disrepair. If you use the Parkway regularly, you should help it out. Or, if you’re out there, pick up some trash!
  • Happy Tails Pet Sanctuary:  Happy Tails is Sacramento’s only no-kill cat shelter. They are always looking for volunteers to foster and socialize their animals, feed feral cats or help with fundraising. I’m not an animal person, but the people at Happy Tails are passionate and committed to their work.

I know it’s difficult to find service in with a full-time job, family commitments, and other responsibilities. But  at a time when organizations are facing sharp drops in giving and unprecedented budget cuts, they need Girls on the Grid to stand up and use their skills and talents for their community.

I strongly believe that the hours I spend with my kids at the Greenhouse are the best I spend all week. When I’m consumed with “first world” problems like, my iPhone isn’t working right, my warm and cozy house is messy or my very fun, well-paying and rewarding job is stressing me out ,I’m quickly reminded just how lucky I am. I can say, without reservation, that I get more from my students than I could ever get them.

Plus, life doesn’t get much better than watching a car full of 14 year olds sing at the top of their lungs to Taylor Swift on our way to Big Spoon.

EDITOR’s NOTE:  Which local charities/organizations do you love and always make time for?  Let us know by leaving a comment below!

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  1. Laurie Kubicek says

    I love “Team Will” a Sacramento-area based charity that raises funds and awareness for childhood cancer research and supports the families of childhood cancer patients. Check out an excellent documentary done about the organization at – and you can actually see a screening of the movie this Saturday night 3/27 at River Life Cov Church in East Sac at 7pm (4401 ‘A’ Street).

  2. Tiffany Mendoza says

    Amy, great post. I agree that there are so many great charities in Sacramento to be involved with! I personally am a “Big” with Big Brothers Big Sisters as well as being a member of their Young Professionals Committee. We are always looking for volunteers to serve in many capacities, and we are especially in need of men to become mentors (so ladies tell the guys in your life). Learn more at or become a fan of Big Brothers Big Sisters Young Professionals Committee on Facebook.

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