Volunteer: Give Your Time and Talent
We offer many types of volunteer opportunities for adults interested in working with people with disabilities, for working with animals (animal assisted interventions—therapy and education), and for working in integrated programs.
Dogwood volunteers are not casual observers; rather, they are active participants who gain skills and knowledge by working directly with clients. Many of our volunteers teach classes or oversee integrated activities. Our volunteers become part of our client’s lives, and engage in their healthcare or extracurricular activities, so we require a minimum of a semester commitment (see schedule below), and at least 5 hours per week. Volunteers can expect to spend at least 65% of their time engaging with clients, and the remainder of their time helping with projects, office work, running errands, and helping us with day-to-day needs. Many of our volunteers have started their journey into more professional roles in healthcare and social service sectors, including a lot of potential occupational therapists!
************* Dogwood does NOT offer shadowing ***************
Dogwood offers opportunities for youth volunteers, too! Youth must have attended at least two semesters of our afterschool programs or dog training classes. We understand that individuals, who volunteer in the community as youth, will also volunteer later in life. Youth volunteers should be able to self-direct, work and play well with others, and be fairly independent in case the situation arises when they are not in a session and left on their own. Many youth volunteers can also get school credit for their community service.
Successful Dogwood volunteers posses:
- Ability to be independent, self-directed, and flexible with duties
- Desire to work with people with disabilities and within integrated programs
- Comfortable working with dogs
- Ability to commit for at least two months (see schedule below), minimum of 4 hours a week on a regular schedule
- Ability to provide a background check (see volunteer application for details)
Dogwood's schedule changes every few months. Typically, our day starts around 9:30 a.m... and may end as late as 7:00 p.m... To gain the best experience, our volunteers are scheduled approximately one month prior to the start of each new volunteer period. The options for volunteering are as follows:
January – April
APS spring break is a full week of integrated classes and activities!
May is a flexible schedule
June – July is two full months of integrated classes and activities!
August is a flexible schedule
September – Mid December
For a volunteer application, send an email to email@example.com.
Once we receive your application, we will contact you for an interview.
We set our schedules the month prior to each semester schedule.
Thank you for your interest in volunteering with us!
Criminal background check due prior to interview for volunteer position.
Dogwood Therapy Services provides intervention and programs to children. Volunteers under the age of 21 should have participated in at least two of our afterschool programs in order to have the skills needed to volunteer in our facility. The state requires that all volunteers and interns (over the age of 12) who come in contact with children in our facility, must have a background check. The background check will be at the expense of the volunteer. If you have had a background check somewhere else within the past 6 months, Dogwood is able to accept a copy of that.
Fax the the completed forms to 866-904-9976
or scan and email to firstname.lastname@example.org and write VOLUNTEER in the subject line
"Dogwood offers a unique and specialized experience for students looking to gain skills in animal-assisted occupational therapy. Working with Melissa is fast-paced and exciting, her enthusiasm is contagious. Working with animals during a therapy session requires good multi-tasking skills and can be overwhelming for some. However, learning to tune into the animal's needs as well as the client's needs/goals is a valuable skill that any practitioner can generalize to numerous practice settings.
The hardest part of volunteering at Dogwood is learning to not over-commit yourself. It is so easy to want to be involved in all the innovative projects that are happening at Dogwood, but most busy students will need to set their schedules and try to stick to them. My favorite aspect of volunteering at Dogwood is the fun, unpredictable environment that comes from working with multiple animals, children, teens, adults and creative therapists! The treatment sessions were ever changing and evolving and it is exciting to be part of such a dynamic therapy experience." ~ Anonymous volunteer
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"I came to Dogwood as a volunteer because I wanted to learn more about animal-assisted therapy. At the time, I was beginning the application process to occupational therapy programs and wanted to get my feet wet. I had worked in animal clinics in high school and college, volunteered at a primate sanctuary, and have had pets my entire life (although I've never owned a dog). I learned more in the time that I spent with Melissa than ANY of my volunteer experiences in the field of occupational therapy. I saw firsthand how a child with autism may respond to a loving dog, how adults and children felt comfortable and motivated around the animals, how they have a natural connection that can promote healing, growth, and confidence. While the hours were long and intense, I soaked up all the experiences and relished in the fatigue of a full day. In order to prepare for a workshop at Dogwood, I'd recommend reading some basics about animal assisted therapy and maybe a book about human-animal relationships/connections, and of course be prepared to Work and Learn. It's hard to choose a favorite part of the experience... i think it was all beneficial. Through a broad range of experiences, from integrated dog-training groups to adult Girl Scout troops, I witnessed changes in people…… and their smiles, so many smiles...." ~ Anonymous Volunteer