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Frequently Asked Questions about Volunteering


How do I sign up to volunteer at a day retreat I’d like to attend?


If you find a program you’d like to attend and volunteer for as a Day-Of Work Trade, contact the Volunteer Coordinator (volunteering@spiritrock.org or 415-488-0164 x 224) to inquire about available spaces. We schedule volunteers starting from four to six weeks prior to the date of the program, but sometimes have last-minute need for helpers so don’t hesitate to reach out. If we have a space for you, we will register you for the program and there is no need to sign up online. Volunteering is typically in exchange for class fees, with the exception of benefits and multi-day programs (for these, volunteers are asked to contribute half the base tuition).


How much time is required for a day retreat, what will I be doing, and will I miss any of the program?


For most programs, day-of event volunteers arrive an hour early to help set up chairs in the program room, greet folks as they arrive, check off people who have already registered or collect payment from folks who register at the door. Volunteers help with CE registration and direct parking for larger programs. Volunteers offer the event coordinator 15-20 minutes of help during the lunch break. At the end of the program, volunteers help put away chairs, sweep the hall, empty the garbage and recycling, collect and label lost and found items, and tidy up the hall.  Volunteers may miss up to 15 – 30 minutes of the program and should be open to doing any of the tasks assigned by the event coordinator, which usually include lifting up to 20lbs and some physical chores.  If you are unable to do so, please let us know in advance so we can match you with an appropriate task or offer you a scholarship when availalble.  Typical day-of event volunteer hours are 9am to 5:30pm, depending on the timing and size of the program.

Where do I sign in and record my hours?


When volunteering for an event as a Day-Of Work Trade, there is no need to sign in as you’re registered already, and your time is in exchange for attending on that day.

When volunteering in a department for work exchange (WE) credits for future programs, we ask that you please record your hours. There are binders and clipboards with volunteer timesheets located in the various department offices around the campus, usually close to where you’ll be volunteering. You may be oriented by the Volunteer Coordinator before your shift as to where to sign in, or ask your department supervisor to show you the location of the timesheets when you’re on site. If you don’t find the timesheet or forget to record your hours, no worries-- just email the Volunteer Office with them when you get home to get your work exchange (WE) credits.


How may I use my credit hours to attend Spirit Rock programs?


Work Exchange (WE) credit hours can be ‘banked’ and exchanged, at a later date, to reduce or waive the fees for programs and events when space allows.  Volunteering for our kitchen, housekeeping, land, facilities, or administrative departments or volunteering for a Dana/by donation day allows you to accrue hours for future use for programs where registration is required. 

Contact the Volunteer Office (volunteering@spiritrock.org or 415-488-0164 x 224) to request to redeem your credits and register for class series or day retreats (the deadline to register is usually noon the day before for weekday programs, and noon Friday for weekend programs). Provide your full name and the date and title of the program you’d like to attend. Registration for day retreats is on a space-available basis.


Work Exchange credit hours can be used for non-residential programs only.  WE credit hours cannot be used for Drop-in or Online programs.
Four credit hours are redeemable for one day retreat, with the exception of Benefit and multi-day programs, which require a contribution of half the base donation along with the credit hours exchange. More information about how your hours may be redeemed can be found at: https://spiritrock.org/volunteer-work-exchange


How can I earn credits to attend a residential retreat?


For volunteers looking for a longer-term commitment, which when completed earns credits that can be applied toward residential retreats, we offer the Dedicated Volunteer Program. More info on open positions and how to apply here: https://spiritrock.org/dedicated-volunteer


Are meals included with volunteer shifts?


If you’re volunteering 4 or more hours in a department at Spirit Rock (not as a Day-Of Event Volunteer) on a day when lunch is being served in the Dining Hall, and the timing works with your shift, you may be invited to join for a meal - ask your supervisor if one is available on the day you’re volunteering. If so, you will go (usually with the staff member you’re working with) through the line in the (silent) Dining Hall, and eat in a designated staff area (not silent).


Can I go to the Dining Hall or upper Retreat Center when I’m volunteering?


Unless your work shift takes you there, you will not be going beyond the wooden gate that marks the boundary of the Upper Retreat Center. Be mindful of this fact and keep voices low when you’re near the gate. If you do need to enter the upper retreat center for your volunteer shift, please be aware there may be a silent retreat in progress, speak in a whisper when necessary, and maintain silence as much as possible. Please avoid making eye contact with retreatants so that they may stay engaged with their practice. Work Exchange volunteers are not invited or allowed in the Upper Retreat Hall for dharma talks and sits during residential retreats.


Can I bring my dog to Spirit Rock?


Only service dogs specifically trained to support physical limitations are permitted at our retreat center and community meditation hall. For the safety of your pet and the animals that live on this land, and out of respect for the experience of other attendees, Spirit Rock strongly requests that you leave pets at home. It is not safe to allow pets to run free on the land, be tied up outdoors, or be left in a car.

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