Ways to Get Involved
It’s easy to participate! PMD only requires committing to one project shift.
We partner with businesses to offer their employees well-organized volunteer projects that make real differences.
We provide PMD charity partners with expert service project planning and volunteer management for high impact.
Volunteer With Us
It’s easy to participate! We only require committing to one project shift.
Improve trails and increase biodiversity in Iroquois Woods on Boston's Mission Hill
Saturday 9/30/2023, 9:30am-12:30pm
Rain Date: 09/30
Sign up for both or either primary (9:30am-12:30pm) and/or rain postponement (1:30-4:30pm) shifts
Location: Iroquois Woods, Boston's Mission Hill Near Fenwood Rd. stop of "E" Green Line or #39
Deadline: Register by 9/23
~7 volunteers are still needed.
Help with “Harvest Fest” children's activities
Sunday 10/15/2023, 12:45pm-4:45pm
Rain Date: 10/15
Sign up for the 10/15 rain date!
Deadline: Register by 9/25
~1 volunteers are still needed.
Carefully collate Braille-embossed plastic pages between printed pages of PLUTO! Not a Planet? Not a Problem!
Sunday 10/22/2023, 9:30-12noon or 1:00-3:30
Rain or shine.
Location: National Braille Press
Boston behind Symphony Hall
Spacious, well-ventilated, and sanitized basement work space
Deadline: Register by 10/15
Officiate for the MIT Science Bowl's High School Invitational
Saturday 11/11/2023, 8am-1pm, or 8am-5pm
Location: MIT, Cambridge
Deadline: Register by 10/24
Compete in the 2024 virtual Maine High School Science Bowl!
Saturday 3/09/2024, all day
Rain Date: 00/00
Note: We only shares zoom links, schedules, and other details with registered teams since we cannot accommodate any observers/audience members or walk-ins, i.e., unregistered teams or volunteers.
Deadline: Register by 1/17
Answers to Volunteer FAQs
PMD is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization founded in 1992 in Boston, Massachusetts. PMD is entirely run by one paid staffer, volunteer board members, directors, and officers who also hold full-time jobs and have other responsibilities. After running PMD as an unpaid volunteer while working for several other charities coordinating volunteers and writing grant proposals and newsletters for an environmental charity, Executive Director and Founder Lori Tsuruda was finally hired to work full-time for PMD beginning in November 2001.
As of December 2021, more than 10,000 volunteers have given 85,700+ hours helping 152 charitable groups in Greater Boston by participating in 1,369 PMD projects.
PMD volunteers are of all ages, with many people ages 18 to 70+.
PMD relies on financial support from individuals, corporations, and foundations.
To conserve limited resources, PMD communicates about upcoming PMD events via a private e-mail list (hosted pro bono by VerticalResponse) rather than USPS mail. Furthermore, PMD only emails specific, PDF project details to people who have signed up with PMD–not third parties–to participate.
After learning about particular PMD service projects by e-mail, our website, or Facebook, check your calendar for your reliable availability.
If there’s a match, register online before the sign up deadline. You can find the registration link by visiting PMD’s events listing and clicking on the corresponding Sign Up button. Provide all of the required information and submit, and then you will see a confirmation screen AND receive a confirmation email message.
The week before the project, you will be sent PDFs that contain information on the agency we’ll be helping, what to expect, what to bring, how to get there by car and by public transit, map, and release form.
On the day of the project, you will travel to the project site prepared to participate (with breaks) for the entire project time span. You will also learn how your work supports the mission of the charity partner served.
PMD projects typically involve 12-20 people. Many are usually first-time PMD volunteers or repeat volunteers who are working together for the first time, so it’s not cliquey.
Nearly all PMD projects are accessible by public transportation.
Mostly by word-of-mouth.
We hear from our volunteers, agencies who we have helped in the past, agencies who were referred by agencies that we have helped in the past, etc.
PMD projects are hands-on, non-clerical and non-fundraising in nature that are typically planned 6-12 months in advance. We seek work that could not be accomplished without volunteer help and resource.
If you know of specific charities that need specific tasks completed, please contact Lori at *82,1-781-963-0373 or email and request our Answers to Frequently Asked Questions by Charities.
PMD purposely organizes no projects on Thanksgiving and Christmas and fewer in July and August. We have found that fewer volunteers participate in PMD projects during the late summer (when they are actually most needed) and that during the holidays there is an overabundance of well-intentioned volunteers and volunteer groups that typically overwhelm the needs and the staffs of most charitable organizations.
In addition, during the holidays and summer most volunteers are often unable or unwilling to commit to participating at the levels required for successful PMD projects (e.g., signing up in advance and participating for an entire project time span).
PMD encourages you to start a new tradition, volunteering during the summer time (when there are volunteer shortages) rather than the hectic holidays in November and December.
If you would really like to volunteer during the holidays, please plan ahead by contacting the volunteer coordinators at local shelters and other community agencies. They would be happy to tell you about their upcoming volunteer opportunities. There may not always be a match between their needs and your availability. Remember, volunteers are generally needed more during NON-holiday times when regular volunteer participation dwindles, especially at the beginning of the new year and during the summer, but also on the “let down” days immediately following major holidays.
Yes and no. The volunteer opportunities advertised on the PMD website and email list are geared for individual participants, not groups, and individuals must sign up themselves. Groups must have prior discussion and advance permission from PMD to advertise specific PMD volunteer opportunities to their members.
PMD offers Corporate Partnerships for companies’ and other groups’ community involvement programs seeking private, customized volunteer opportunities. These projects are typically planned 6-12 months in advance when specific dates are required.
Corporate Partnerships involve one-time projects during business hours. PMD enables participants to work together as a team, enjoy a sense of accomplishment, and learn about and discuss topics of interest. With PMD’s expert guidance, organization and planning, experience, and community connections, corporate partners develop successful projects and community relationships. PMD corporate partnership projects involve hands-on tasks, team work, and learning goals. PMD handles all details so that participants can simply show up and jump right in. Project selection and associated expenses are driven by a company’s values, goals, timeline, and budget.
PMD Corporate Partners include BNY Mellon, Novartis, Blue Cross Blue Shield of MA, and Google. Please contact Lori Tsuruda at (*82)1-781-963-0373 or email Lori for sample projects and pricing for Corporate Partnerships at your place of business or in the community.
PMD requires that individual volunteers age 16+ take responsibility for their own participation, beginning with signing up for PMD projects themselves. When someone tries to sign up a friend/partner, too often the friend/partner doesn’t take this commitment to participate as seriously, which in turn impacts the charities we strive to assist and the rest of the volunteers.
Volunteers who sign-up by the project sign-up deadlines enable PMD to plan quality community service projects that enable us to (a) send detailed project information PDFs with needed tasks and preparation tailored to the number of volunteers (b) be more confident there will be enough volunteers to complete what we estimate we can accomplish, and (c) make sure that we amass the appropriate tools, materials, and other resources for the number of volunteers expected to participate.
Though PMD has sign-up deadlines, if more help is still listed as being needed at our website after the deadline, interested volunteers are welcome to call *82,1-781-963-0373 to inquire if volunteers are still needed and if so, to sign up or to join a backup list in case there are last-minute cancellations. People who call must have email (or the ability to receive a fax) to receive the detailed project information in time.
We require that you provide at least your email address, complete USPS mailing address, and one phone number so that we can accurately communicate specific project information and last minute changes for projects for which you have explicitly signed up to participate.
Plus. afterward we will send you a copy of the group photo. We do NOT share your information. If there are repeated problems with returned email, we will also call to make you aware of them.
PMD needs volunteers to commit to participate for the whole project, not just part of it, because we need people to work as a team from start to finish, from becoming oriented to cleaning up.
From volunteer feedback, we found that people who arrive late or leave early consistently do not feel as satisfied about the work accomplished because they do not see how the work site looked at the beginning or when tasks were completed, respectively.
Since PMD only asks for single project commitment and not weekly commitment or membership dues, we think it is reasonable to ask folks to commit to participate for a whole PMD project.
Unfortunately, not everyone takes their volunteer commitments seriously. (In fact, many people have blatantly told us so!) PMD expends its very limited resources on project planning, tools, and materials so that people can easily volunteer to make a difference to recipient charities. When volunteer “spaces” are underutilized and/or we are unable to complete all the work needed due to unexpected understaffing, we fail the charities we strive to serve.
If you are a responsible volunteer, just disregard these references since you already know that you will be participating. If you do become ill or something serious happens to a loved one, then please consult those contingency directions that require you to CALL, not email, PMD, ideally at least 24 hours before your PMD project begins.
PMD strives to plan sufficient tasks, tools, materials, and cookies we bake for the number of volunteers signed up to participate. Charities depend on PMD, and thus our reputation as being reliable, self-sufficient, and great to host.
When volunteers cannot participate, we need to know ASAP so that we can adjust appropriately. We ask you to call us (and leave voicemail) OR use our online cancellation form, NOT use email or text message, so that we will learn this information from you as quickly as possible.
When we are at a project, we are focused on the volunteers and cannot check for email cancellations.
Sometimes there are people on a backup list who we can activate to participate in your absence the sooner you let us know. When we are unexpectedly unable to complete all the work needed due to understaffing, we fail the charities we strive to serve.
PMD organizes projects on Sundays several times a year. Sunday projects are more challenging to plan because they do not usually attract as many participants as Saturday ones and because the recipient charitable groups must find staff willing to work with us on a Sunday.
PMD also organizes occasional weeknight projects, but these tend also to attract fewer participants given how difficult it can be to finish work on-time, travel to a project site, work a few hours, then return home late. Likewise, PMD has organized several weeknight virtual opportunities via zoom, but being too tired from work and “zoom fatigue” also mean that fewer people tend to participate compared to weekend volunteer opportunities.
If you want PMD to offer more weeknight projects, please be sure to sign up and then then participate in them.
PMD occasionally organizes projects that are appropriate for children to participate if they are accompanied by a parent or guardian who can work alongside youth under age 16.
Youth-friendly projects contain relevant age restrictions and wording in their descriptions. Note: Youth age 16 and 17 can participate without a parent or guardian present, but a parent or guardian must co-sign all forms AND provide a phone# where they can be reached during the PMD service project.
If you require documentation of your participation, please complete and bring any required form(s) with you when you volunteer (and/or prepare a form letter) so that the PMD project manager can immediately review and sign it at the conclusion of the project. This will enable you to complete your documentation as quickly as possible and minimize the bureaucratic burden on overextended charity staff.
If you forget to do so at the project itself, send Lori Tsuruda a request at least two weeks before you need it sent. Your request should include the complete name, title, USPS mailing address, and email address of the person to whom PMD should send the documentation of your hours.
General PMD policy requires that volunteers refrain from signing up more than one month in advance of a project. We have found that most people cannot reliably commit and participate in PMD volunteer projects if they sign up more than one month in advance, so this policy serves to minimize the effort spent signing up, confirming, canceling, and confirming cancellations.
Rare PMD service projects, like running the annual Blue Lobster Bowl of the NOSB and middle school science bowl, require earlier sign ups so that participants will receive appropriately sized, official garments, and so we can schedule advance training and specific room assignments, order lunches that address special dietary needs, etc.
Occasionally service projects for charities requiring sexual offender record checks also require more lead time since this process is not automated in order to protect volunteers’ personal information.
Yes. Only if more volunteer help is needed AFTER a sign up deadline.
Sign up to participate by BOTH calling and emailing PMD at *82,1-781-963-0373.
Please be sure to give your complete name, specify the project date, and give an email address that can accept PDF attachments.
We hope that soon Covid-19 infections diminish in our Commonwealth due to people becoming fully vaccinated and boosted, staying/working from home when ill, wearing masks, washing hands, and staying 6+ feet apart.
High-quality mask wearing, washing hands, and staying at least 6-feet apart will carry into our in-person volunteer opportunities when possible.
As before the pandemic, PMD will modify or even cancel PMD service projects should conditions be(come) unsafe for volunteers.
Operational changes have been made/added to ensure the safety of volunteers and of the people we aim to help.
If you are in a high-risk category due to age and/or health conditions, please consider carefully your own risk before participating in any in-person PMD projects. Volunteers in high-risk categories are encouraged to become fully vaccinated and boosted and/or to participate in PMD’s virtual opportunities.
The criteria below appear on all volunteer screening/registration forms to ensure that volunteers are healthy during the 7 days before they are scheduled to volunteer.
- If you are UNvaccinated and/or not boosted, please do NOT sign up to volunteer.
- Stay home/cancel if you are ill, feverish, coughing, short of breath, have muscle aches and/or chills, have lost your sense of smell, have yellow or pink eyes, sore throat, diarrhea, etc. or if anyone with whom you cohabitate/have been in close contact** is ill/symptomatic, regardless of vaccination status.
- Stay home/cancel if you test positive for covid-19 or any other infectious disease, or if anyone with whom you cohabitate/have been in close contact** has. (If you’ve had covid-19, you can resume volunteering when you have no symptoms AND have had two negative test results.)
- Stay home/cancel if you’ve been exposed to anyone who has tested positive for covid-19 during the past 10 days, or if anyone with whom you cohabitate/been in close contact** has.
We have implemented new protocols for when you volunteer:
- If your condition/situation changes, please cancel your participation ASAP by calling PMD at *82,1-781-963-0373 and leaving voicemail.
- If volunteering indoors, project managers will require all volunteers wear masks (just like we require volunteers to wear required clothing and footwear for safety).
- All volunteers and staff should remain at least 6-feet apart to the greatest extent possible.
- All volunteers age 18+ must agree to online waivers and releases in advance instead of submitting paper forms. Minors will need to submit hardcopy forms that are co-signed by a parent/guardian.
- All volunteers and staff must wash their hands (or use hand sanitizer) after using a restroom, blowing/wiping one’s nose, touching one’s face/eyes/nose/mouth, and/or eating/drinking.
- Volunteers eating/drinking must do so 10-feet or more away from other people.
**Close contact is defined as being within 6-feet from someone for 15 or more minutes.
Once the maximum number of volunteers have registered online for a PMD project, additional interested volunteers have the option to sign up for a backup list.
Backup list volunteers MUST commit to being fully available to volunteer until the DATE that they indicate by when PMD must contact them to ACTIVATE them from the backup list, in addition to providing the same information as regular volunteers.
Once contacted in their preferred manner (text or email message), someone on the backup list has up to 12 hours to confirm/accept before the next person will be contacted.
Bottom line: Only sign up for a backup list if you’re willing to reserve the time until 1-3 days before a PMD project takes place.
Not available this month?
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Join PMD’s Email List
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Reviews from PMD Volunteers
“An excellent volunteer experience!
I learned about a local charity and performed needed community service.”
Nancy Goldberg, Volunteer
“PMD provides a wonderful outlet for those who want to volunteer but can’t commit to doing so on a regular schedule…
And it provides a wonderful resource for organizations which need a burst of reliable manpower for a specific task.”
Joe Kesselman, Volunteer
We partner with businesses to offer their employees well-organized volunteer projects that make real differences.
How We Can Work Together
- Help identify clear objectives to match the right, high-impact project to business needs.
- Customize volunteer projects according business’ goals, resources, geographic preference, frequency, and other needs.
- Manage all of the organization and logistics required for a successful volunteer experience.
- Photograph volunteers in action and compile volunteer feedback for internal/external publicity.
Interested? Let’s Work Together
Past PMD Corporate Partners
What PMD Corporate Partners Say
“Lori Tsuruda and PMD made all the difference in our corporate community involvement event. [They] were collaborative from start to finish. Prior to the project she worked closely to provide guidance and recommendations on logistics and she was there when it was time for the big event day. A few months have now passed since our give back event and the team is still talking about the experience.”
Aveda Harris, formerly at Dell/EMC
We provide our charity partners with expert service project planning and volunteer management for high impact.
How We Can Work Together
88% of our partner charities do not have staff dedicated to working with volunteers, or rely on part-time staff.
- Help engage volunteers, and co-design projects based on the needs and strengths of your charity.
- Recruit, manage, and support PMD volunteers to assist with single-day needs of your charity.
What PMD Charity Partners Say
People Making a Difference (PMD) has been one of Pine Street Inn’s partners since 2011. During that time, they have donated essential items throughout the year and held service days (prior to COVID) to help Pine Street Inn’s shelter guests. Their generosity has helped hundreds of individuals experiencing homelessness with their everyday needs. Thank you to PMD for making a huge difference in the lives of some of Boston’s most vulnerable people and for being a terrific partner.
Ross Condit, Pine Street Inn