HandsOn San Diego Announces Volunteer Impact across San Diego County for 2021

Perhaps it was wanting to break free from the lockdowns of 2020. Or maybe people felt compelled to help their fellow residents and the community. Whatever the reason, more people in San Diego County volunteered last year with HandsOn San Diego than even in 2019, before the pandemic.

It was no surprise that more people volunteered in 2021 than in 2020 with the Covid restrictions and no vaccine available. But 6065 volunteers actively engaged in the community in 2021 representing over a 6% increase from 2019. More impressive, the hours served were up over 28% and at 3377 shifts, the help provided to county nonprofits was up a whopping 314% over 2019. “The most exciting stat to me was that we had almost as many projects completed in 2021 as we did in all of the years previous! The year 2021 accounts for 42% of our projects in our whole history,” marveled Jessie Case, volunteer engagement manager for HandsOn San Diego.

One reason for the increase is that the organization reached out to more nonprofits to offer assistance. HandsOn San Diego is known for strengthening communities, caring for those in need, uniting volunteers, and building leadership skills throughout San Diego County. In 2021, they expanded their outreach efforts to engage more nonprofits resulting in a 64% increase over those served in 2019. With more ways to help, San Diegans stepped forward.

HandsOn San Diego makes volunteering easy and accessible by outlining various opportunities that are sure to align with individuals’ schedules, passions, timeframes, and area(s) of choice, thus overcoming many barriers for volunteering. The HandsOn San Diego team diligently removes these obstacles through crafting a volunteer calendar, which has opportunities from various nonprofit organizations and can be easily navigated and customized through filters. It is with this tool that the organization is able to successfully engage individuals as well as small and large groups. 

“This was a very fulfilling volunteering experience. The three other volunteers with me were kind, courteous, and gave me the info I needed on volunteering. I hope to do it again soon!” – Summera, volunteer at Lucky Duck Meal Distribution

Examples of volunteer opportunities include sorting food, assisting with dog adoptions, serving meals, organizing thrift store donations, building homes, supporting active-duty military families, and many more!

HandsOn San Diego is the county’s only regional nonprofit focused solely on connecting volunteers with community needs. Founded in 2013, HandsOn San Diego’s mission is to strengthen communities through volunteer action. They believe that when individuals are actively engaged, communities are stronger. HandsOn San Diego is fiscally sponsored by Mission Edge San Diego, a 501(c)(3) organization. 

Visit www.handsonsandiego.org to learn more or email them at info@handsonsandiego.org to receive more information.

HandsOn San Diego joins first annual San Diego Gives

HandsOn San Diego is so excited to be part of San Diego Gives. This is the first annual day of giving for San Diego County, and 100% of all money raised will stay local to help the community we know and love. Be sure to save the date for September 9, 2021!

We all know how important it is to eat local and shop local – we are excited to join the movement to GIVE local. This special day will shine a light on the tremendous work of nonprofit organizations throughout San Diego County, and connect people to the local causes they care about most.

Here’s how it works. San Diego Gives is a 24-hour online fundraiser. More than 100 nonprofits are participating. To be approved, each organization needed to meet the following criteria:

  1. Demonstrate a commitment to serving the greater San Diego area, responding to the needs of the community with a local-first approach, and making a tangible impact.
  2. Represent a variety of populations and causes served by your programs and services, including but not limited to age, race, zip code, and diverse communities, and create an environment of equity and inclusion.
  3. Present a compelling appeal to donors, commit to keeping all funds raised in the greater San Diego area, and have a proven track record of fiscal responsibility.

Small, entirely local nonprofits like HandsOn San Diego often get lost among the larger, national nonprofits during Giving Tuesday. San Diego Gives keeps all the donations local, and I love that a donor can choose to spread a gift across all the participating nonprofits!

Lisa Lindgren, Executive Director of HandsOn San Diego

You can support HandsOn San Diego on September 9th by visiting our page at https://www.sandiegogives.org/organization/Handson-San-Diego. Thank you for being part of this special day!

11 Good Deeds to do on 9/11 in San Diego

The anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks has become a very important National Day of Service in America, known as “9/11 Day

9/11 Day is a time when Americans are asked to join together in unity, remember those lost on 9/11, and if possible, perform good deeds or other acts of service as a positive tribute to the 9/11 victims, as well as first responders and military personnel who rose in service in response to the attacks.

Below is a list of 11 good deeds you can do to participate in 9/11 Day of Service in San Diego either from home or in-person. All opportunities can be found on our 9/11 Day of Service resource page.

  1. Help sort and load boxes of meals for unsheltered homeless individuals on the streets with the Lucky Duck Foundation in Miramar or Chula Vista.
  2. Make cards for individuals who have been isolated throughout the pandemic. St. Paul’s Senior Services and Serving Seniors are collecting cards for seniors in their care. Jewish Family Service of San Diego is collecting cards for residents in Skilled Nursing Facilities.
  3. Support Auntie Helen’s Charity Thrift’s programs for individuals with low incomes or underlying health conditions by sorting, folding, hanging, and disbursing organizations at their thrift store in North Park.
  4. Sign up to volunteer with USO San Diego to provide much needed services to members of the military and their families.
  5. Donate items to a nonprofit organization working to meet the increased demand for services during the pandemic.
  6. Promote literacy virtually through one of Words Alive’s many volunteer opportunities, including translating their materials, hosting a book drive, and  recording a video of yourself reading a children’s story.
  7. Refurbish computers with Computers 2 Kids to increase access technology for distance learning students .
  8. Share your skills with PATH San Diego from the comfort of your home. They’re looking for volunteers to help virtually with data entry, social media, and specific research projects. Your support will help them work toward ending homelessness.
  9. Assist Father Joe’s Villages or Catholic Charities, Diocese of San Diego at one of their drive-thru food distributions, providing food security for San Diegans throughout the County.
  10. Aid in the San Diego River Park Foundation’s conservation efforts by participating in one of their many remote volunteer opportunities such as building a bat house, illustrating the ecology of Boulder Creek Preserve, or helping sort and categorize photos from their wildlife cameras.
  11. Make an appointment to donate blood with the San Diego Blood Bank or the American Red Cross of San Diego and Imperial Counties.

Share your 9/11 good deed on social media. Include the hashtags #handsonsandiego and #911day.

Did you know HandsOn San Diego helps thousands of volunteers connect with the organizations that need them year-round? Find a project that aligns with your passions and schedule on our online calendar.

United Way of San Diego County Partners with HandsOn San Diego to Launch the San Diego COVID-19 Volunteer Hub

Virtual hub will be a one-stop-shop for volunteering resources and opportunities to help thousands of local families affected by COVID-19

While many in our community are facing difficult challenges due to the pandemic, charitable organizations around the world are working around the clock to provide much-needed supplies, services, and support for individuals and families in need. But nonprofits couldn’t provide these emergency services without the help of community volunteers. To meet this growing demand, United Way of San Diego County has partnered with HandsOn San Diego to launch the San Diego COVID-19 Volunteer Hub, a new website where San Diegans can find ways to help other San Diegans get through this crisis together.

“There are many ways to give back to the community, especially during times like this,” says Nancy Sasaki, president and CEO, United Way of San Diego County. “Because of all the options to volunteer, it might feel overwhelming when searching for the right nonprofit that fits your interests and skills. That’s why United Way of San Diego County partnered with HandsOn San Diego to make the process quick and easy for people to search for meaningful ways to give back to those most in need. Working together and lending a helping hand to our fellow neighbors has never been more important.”

Among the many opportunities to help, the website provides the following volunteer options for individuals, groups, and companies:

  • Donate in-kind goods/relief items 
  • Volunteer in-person 
  • Volunteer virtually from the comfort of your own home
  • Lend your professional skills to help a local nonprofit
  • Make a monetary donation 
  • Provide the gift of life by donating blood

Just like many nonprofit organizations, HandsOn San Diego had to change the way it operated to respond to the pandemic. “Volunteering is the best thing we can do for each other during these challenging times,” says Crystal Trull, Interim Executive Director, HandsOn San Diego. “Whether you give of your time, talent, or treasure, it all helps us to be a stronger, more united community. If your heart is eager to give back, but you just don’t know how, the volunteer hub will help you find just the right opportunity”

Visit sandiegovolunteerhub.org to find more information.

Here are more ways to get connected:

  • If you have questions about how to volunteer or if you would like to list your nonprofit and volunteer opportunities on the site, email volunteerhub@uwsd.org
  • If you would like support with your CSR strategy, or identifying meaningful engagement opportunities and volunteer projects for your employees, please contact email volunteerhub@uwsd.org for more information.


For 100 years, United Way of San Diego County has aligned with partners to address inequities in the region and help underserved communities. United Way’s specialty lies in identifying sustainable, long-term goals and achieving them through leveraging data and partners’ expertise to better understand root causes and putting impactful solutions into action.  

United Way’s work, in partnership with others, uses shared goals, innovation and proven practices to transform the lives of children, young adults and families in the San Diego region. United Way focuses on educational milestones, such as kindergarten readiness, third-grade literacy, high school preparation, and college and career pathways. Learn more and get involved by visiting www.uwsd.org, Facebook, Twitter, or by calling (858) 492-2000.



HandsOn San Diego’s mission is to strengthen communities through volunteer action and leadership development. Since 2013, HandsOn San Diego has connected thousands of individual volunteers to hundreds of nonprofit partners, schools, and community groups throughout the San Diego region.  By hand-selecting volunteer projects that range from small-scale, ongoing opportunities to large-scale, one-time events, HandsOn San Diego is committed to making volunteering accessible to everyone. 

HandsOn San Diego is an affiliate of the Points of Light Global Network, an international partnership that spans more than 250 cities and 37 countries around the world.  Sharing a common vision that civic engagement is the pathway to positive change, HandsOn San Diego has earned the distinction of being a Service-Enterprise certified organization.  Learn more about our work by visiting www.handsonsandiego.org, Facebook, or by emailing info@handsonsandiego.org.

HandsOn San Diego becomes a certified Service Enterprise!

SE Certified Seal 18_21-c

HandsOn San Diego is pleased to announce that it has been certified by Points of Light, the world’s largest organization dedicated to volunteer service, as a Service Enterprise! Achieving Service Enterprise certification is a very prestigious accomplishment for an organization. In fact, organizations that certify join the top 11 percent of nonprofits nationwide in volunteer management and organizational performance. Certification signifies that organizations have the capability and management expertise to strategically use volunteers to improve the performance of their organization.

HandsOn San Diego completed an extensive assessment, over 20 hours of training and coaching, and an extensive internal planning and change process to better integrate volunteers into our human capital strategy. By achieving this level of excellence and certification, HandsOn San Diego is now better equipped to leverage the time and talent of volunteers and better meet our mission.

“SEI gave us the language to redefine our vision of building a sustainable organization for volunteers by volunteers” said HandsOn San Diego Founder and Volunteer-in-Chief, Jaci Feinstein. “By going through the SEI process, we were able to reflect, refine and build upon our internal practices. Volunteers are the backbone of our organization and we want to ensure we are following best practices that we can pass on to our partners.”

During the Service Enterprise process, HandsOn San Diego established 3 volunteer-led action teams which will focus on growing HandsOn in the areas of programs, fundraising, and marketing. More information on the action teams can be found here.

Research conducted by the TCC Group, a national program and evaluation firm, found that organizations operating as Service Enterprises outperform peer organizations on all aspects of organizational effectiveness, and are more adaptable, sustainable and capable of scaling their work.

The Service Enterprise Initiative is a national change management program that helps organizations gain a greater return on volunteer investment to better achieve their mission. For more information regarding volunteer opportunities with our organization, please visit our calendar or our behind-the-scenes opportunities. For further information regarding the Service Enterprise Initiative, please contact California Volunteers.

HandsOn’s Founder & Volunteer-in-Chief Selected as Finalist for Next Top Business Leaders Under 40

From Community Activist to Social Entrepreneur: Jaci Feinstein Named Finalist for Top Business Leaders Under 40

San Diego, CA – Jaci Feinstein, local businesswoman, philanthropist, and social entrepreneur, has been named a finalist for the San Diego Business Journal’s NEXT Top Business Leaders Under 40. The event honors young leaders, change makers and innovators who are making waves, creating impact and leaving a positive mark on the San Diego community.

Jaci’s community impact began 10 years ago as an AmeriCorps community activist at a local nonprofit where she first began to understand the impact of volunteerism and philanthropy in our community. Since then, Jaci has leveraged her experience, passion, and an Engineering degree from Carnegie Mellon University to engineer change right here in San Diego.

From building a million dollar business to inspiring a volunteer movement across the region, Jaci’s vision and drive have made an incredible impact on our community.

By day, Jaci serves as the Vice President at Right Hand Events, a leading event management company based in San Diego. As an “event engineer” Jaci creates unique experiences for both corporate and nonprofit clients. In less than 7 years, she’s helped build Right Hand Events into a million-dollar business, serving clients all over the country and working to bring volunteerism and community impact to corporate events.

“Jaci has a special ability to listen to others and be open to their input, then make their ideas a reality in ways they hadn’t imagined. It’s how she builds a shared vision and inspires people through both Right Hand Events and her leadership with HandsOn San Diego.” says Elise Rollinson, CMP, President of Right Hand Events.

During her night and weekend hours, Jaci serves as the Founder and Volunteer in Chief at HandsOn San Diego, a nonprofit she started in 2012 that mobilized over 3,400 volunteers in 2017 through its mission to strengthen our community through volunteer action.

Jaci’s experience as an AmeriCorps community activist led her to create HandsOn San Diego in the belief that there were thousands of San Diegans who wanted to volunteer, but didn’t know where to start. HandsOn makes volunteering easy with its sign-up and show-up model. Under her leadership, HandsOn has grown from an all-volunteer organization to impacting nearly 30 nonprofits through over 500 projects in 2017. 

“Her dedication to our mission is infectious and drives our staff and volunteer leadership to work harder and smarter to better support the community,” adds Lucy Lu, HandsOn San Diego’s Program and Operations Manager.

In her spare time, you can find Jaci enjoying the outdoors – traveling, hiking, and training for triathlons.

The San Diego Business Journal’s NEXT Top Business Leaders Under 40 event takes place on Tuesday, August 14th at the Westin Gaslamp Quarter.

Right Hand Events is your go to conference and event management team, providing the inspiration and detailed organization needed to create successful event experiences. By integrating seamlessly into any team, Right Hand Events ensures excellent service and flexibility that allows our clients to exceed their own expectations. For more information, visit www.RightHandEvents.com.

Hands On San Diego is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization dedicated to strengthening communities through volunteer action and leadership development. We strive to provide volunteers with a high-quality experience that fuels further action, and we envision a day when everyone is inspired and equipped to be the change they wish to see in the world.

Learn more and sign-up to volunteer at www.HandsOnSD.org.


New Site, New Look

After months of worry and excitement, at midnight on March 13th, our new website went live. We checked our emails that morning expecting a flood of messages reporting glitches from the change. Surprisingly, there wasn’t a disaster waiting in our inbox and we were thrilled to start this new chapter for our organization.

Our site and calendar are powered by HandsOn Connect. HandsOn Connect was created in partnership with Points of Light, the world’s largest organization dedicated to volunteer service, incorporating the network’s vast experience with volunteer management to bring nonprofits the most flexible solution available on Salesforce.

The new design of our site was a result of an upgrade that allowed our platform to be faster and more mobile-friendly for our volunteers. A big part of our mission is making volunteering more accessible to San Diegans so we were very excited about the site’s increased mobility.

The upgrade had been in the works with our team for over a year, and we are still fine-tuning it. So we would love to hear your feedback and help you through any glitches that arise. Feel free to contact us at info@handsonsandiego.org

Bringing Light to Projects with Team Leaders

Making a difference in someone’s life can be accomplished in many ways, including kindness extended from volunteers to those who need compassion the most. One way to improve the community as well as assist individuals on a personal level is to become a Team Leader. In this position, you are able to coordinate between volunteers and the event heads so as to see the impact of each project across various boundaries.

For Team Leader Karen Anderson, the position is “a great opportunity to take on a leadership role as a volunteer”, further expanding her positive experiences with HandsOn San Diego. Karen finds it “fun to see volunteers return to projects and to meet new volunteers each time”, emphasizing the capacity for Team Leaders to make long lasting connections with the volunteers they lead each project.

Operating as a Team Leader also allows for you as a volunteer to broaden your horizons. Joan Sadorf, a Team Leader who has been with the organization since the beginning, has found that, when volunteering with HandsOn San Diego, “you can do whatever you feel comfortable with or try out something different to see if you like it”. The diversity of projects allows for experimentation in the type of volunteering that work best for you, and the direction you take can often times surprise you.

By stepping into the leadership role of Team Leader, Joan has “met many interesting, incredible people who are all helping for different reasons but mostly because it feels right”. Volunteering can bring together diverse people who work for the greater good of the San Diego community, opening up personal connections amongst volunteers that are just as important as the work done on the project.

Just as volunteering can help you give back to the community around you, it can make positive impacts on your life at a personal level. No matter what position she’s in, Karen Anderson sees volunteering as something which “makes the whole day brighter and [she] ends the day with a smile”. Whether you’re looking to increase leadership experience or give back in a new way, becoming a Team Leader can make your time with HandsOn even more rewarding. New applicants are always welcome and help ensure that the organization can provide the level of care that each project deserves.

Welcome to the HandsOn Team, Annette!

Bio HandsOn Pic 2We are so excited to have Annette Rainey join our team as our Social Media Manager Intern. Annette is a senior in the Television, Film, and New Media major at San Diego State University. In the upcoming fall, she will be attending graduate school to further pursue an education in film.

Annette spends her time creating short films, both narrative and documentary. Though her emphasis is in editing, she has experience in several areas of production including directing and writing. Over the past summer, she worked as a blogger for SDSU documenting her experiences on her study abroad through Europe. She has also provided video advertisements for local organizations such as the Wheelchair Dancers Organization and a former city-councilman of Chula Vista.

Outside of class, Annette enjoys long boarding, doing special effects make up, and reading.

Born and raised in San Diego, Annette looks forward to giving back to her community through her time working with HandsOn San Diego.

Meet our Video Production Intern!

marisaJoin us in welcoming the newest member of our team, Marisa Kriska, our first HandsOn Video Production Intern and up-and-coming filmmaker from the San Diego area.

Marisa aims to use her knowledge of filmmaking to help spread awareness about our work and inspire others to do their part to help their community.

Her films range from documentary to music videos to the artfully experimental. Her pieces have been shown in a number of exhibitions and granted awards like the curator’s choice award from the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego.

A recent graduate of UCSD’s Visual Arts program, Marisa has a passion for not only film and volunteering, but a love for coffee, film photography, and cats. She enjoys spending her time discovering new places to document on film as well as going out to try a new kind of coffee.

Expect to see Marisa at a variety of our projects gathering footage for videos about HandsOn San Diego, individual projects on our calendar, days of service, and more! We’re so excited to see what life she will bring to our site through added visuals of our impact on the community.

Check out Marisa’s video portfolio here.

Check out our YouTube channel where our new videos will be posted.