At Sponsors Organized to Assist Refugees, our volunteers very often save the day! Given the nature of refugee resettlement work, our office can experience extremely busy times, and our volunteers really help our team get through those busy weeks.

You, your congregation, friends or community organization can help by sponsoring an individual or family. Sponsors create a hospitable environment for refugees and provide for material needs upon their arrival to the United States. Check out our co-sponsorship program to learn how to form your own "Community Support Team."

Volunteers also help refugees find affordable housing, greet refugees at the airport, help with transportation, be a friend in time of need, and assist with other tasks necessary to a new life.

Many of the volunteer opportunities with SOAR require extreme flexibility. Working with newly arrived refugees means understanding that while communication is very important, it is not always easy. Additionally, opportunities may come up with very short notice.

The following are our current volunteer opportunities (download a PDF version). If you are interested in volunteering, please fill out a Volunteer Interest Form below.

little or no direct client contact

Donations Search
(no direct contact, remote position, hours vary)
Volunteer will be added to email list to assist in donating or to seek donors who can provide needed items for refugee families. Volunteers will work remotely to locate donations through personal, professional or online channels.

Donation Drop-Off /Pick-Up
(some direct contact, on call, hours vary)
Volunteers will assist staff in picking up donated items (including large furniture) and deliver donated household items, furniture, and small appliances to our clients' homes. Volunteers  with trucks or vans who are willing to transport furniture and other smaller items are welcome to offer this service.

Apartment Search
(no direct contact, remote position, hours vary)
These volunteers will be added to an email list to assist case managers in find apartment listings and budget-friendly housing situations. Can also include networking with property managements to advocate future affordable housing options for incoming clients.

Direct Client assistance, Low Commitment

Transportation: Appointments
(schedule varies between 1 to 5 hours weekdays on an on-call basis)

Our clients have many appointments to go to in their first couple of weeks here in Portland. The four major appointments are at to DHS, Social Security, IRCO, or Mid­County Clinic. This volunteer opportunity will most often require a car; however, in some cases using public transit with our clients can be much easier and a great way to introduce them to the process. Volunteers will be asked to pick up the client at their home, take them to their appointment, and most of the time wait for them to finish and take them home.

Transportation: Airport Pick-up
(schedule varies between 1 to 2 hours weekdays and late evenings on an on-call basis)
Volunteers pick up clients from the airport when they first arrive in Portland. Arrivals are often late in the evenings on weekdays. It is helpful for these volunteers to have large vehicles that can accommodate multiple people and a large amount of luggage.

Apartment Set-up
(approximately 3 hour shift, primarily weekdays and evenings on an on-call basis, schedule varies)
Volunteers assist in setting up furniture and other household items in apartments for clients resettling or transitioning. May require heavy lifting. Volunteers with trucks or vans who are willing to transport furniture are welcome to offer this service.

Direct Client assistance, medium Commitment

Welcome Meal
(between 1 to 2 hours on day of client arrival, on an on-call basis, schedule varies)
Providing our clients with a culturally appropriate meal is a fun way to prepare for a new family's arrival! We will provide you with the grocery list and resources to provide a meal. You will not need to make this meal by hand, as we will give you stores that can provide pre-made meals in the cultural style of the family. However, if you have experience making food from a client's home country, opportunities to make a homemade meal can be discussed.

New Arrival Grocery Shopping
(approximately 1 to 2 hours per week for 1 to 3 weeks on an on-call basis, schedule varies)
Families will need a supply of groceries until they receive WIC/SNAP benefits (usually 1 to 2 weeks). Pick up a shopping list and gift card (if available) from the SOAR office, shop for a family, and drop the groceries on the family’s doorstep.

(between 1 to 2 hour shifts, primarily weekdays on an on-call basis, schedule varies)

If you have fluency in any of these languages listed below, we could use your volunteer services to assist clients with translation during appointments. These are generally medical appointments, social service appointments and cultural orientation.
Most needed languages: Dari, Pashto, Russian, Ukrainian, Spanish, Burmese (especially Rohingya dialect), Arabic, Swahili, and French.

Culture Skills
(approximately 3 hours per week on an on-call basis, schedule varies)
Guide a client in learning necessary life skills such as: comparing prices at the grocery store, computer literacy coaching, setting up a banking and ATM account, setting up an email account, scheduling medical appointments online and over the phone, etc.

ESL Conversation Partner
(approximately 2 or more hours a week, depending on client needs)
Volunteers are matched up with a client (18+ adult learners only) who has requested extra help with English. The first meeting will be arranged through SOAR. After the first meeting, it is up to the volunteer to communicate with the client for further tutoring sessions. This position is best for someone with previous or current ESL or teaching experience that can design their own curriculum for the client, as SOAR has limited resources and curriculum. However, as clients are already attending required ESL courses, this can also be a more casual opportunity to sit with the client and work on conversational English.

Resume Building & Job Prep
(approximately 2 or more hours a week, depending on client needs)
Volunteers meet with clients on a weekly, or otherwise scheduled basis, to assist clients readying to join the employment pool. For example, guide the client in creating a resume and prepping them for employment interviews.

(opportunities are rare; generally, a commitment of several weeks to months is required)
Most of SOAR's resettlement cases focus on family reunification, meaning our clients already have relatives and a community support system to help with housing. However, occasionally there are clients who arrive with no community support or are experiencing a housing emergency, who could benefit from a host family while they save money for an apartment of their own. In the rare event that we need housing for a client, a volunteer may commit to a few weeks to several months to house a family in their home.

Volunteer Interest Form

    Thank you for your interest in volunteering for Sponsors Organized to Assist Refugees (SOAR).
    Please fill out the following form.


    SOAR location
    7931 NE Halsey St., Ste. 314, Portland, OR 97213
    phone (503) 284-3002
    Vesna Vila, Program Director