Ways to Volunteer in your Community

Hey! We appreciate you existing and doing your best, whatever that means right now. We are so glad that you are here.

A number of us here at WABA have been doing what we can to help our neighbors out, and we wanted to share a few ways to get involved if you have the capacity and interest. 

We hear from our network of community organizations and mutual aid groups that their primary need is for dependable, problem-solving people. We’ve worked with many of you, and we know you’re awesome. Event after event, WABA volunteers have blown us away with your initiative, creativity, and ability to self-delegate when needed. Because of this, we think you could help!

We think this is important! Volunteer three times in your community for a WABA membership. Email membership@waba.org with subject heading “Community Support Membership” and a short list of what you did.

Regional Volunteer Efforts

The pandemic looks different in different communities across our region. It has brought longstanding inequities into stark relief: deaths from the disease are disproportionately African American, Latinx and Indigenous residents. Stay-at-Home orders have highlighted the unequal access to basic services—grocery stores, parks, public transit, internet—along race, gender and socio-economic lines. If you are able to travel safely outside of your neighborhood, these groups could use your help: 

Montgomery County

Prince George’s

District of Columbia

  • Martha’s Table is looking for volunteers for food packing and would love any donations of unopened PPE and cleaning supplies. 
  • Every DC Ward is organized within DC Mutual Aid, join your neighbors through ward signup. All links can be found here. Grocery delivery and mask productions are two major needs. 


  • La ColectiVA is looking for food donations and some roles for grocery delivery (you must prioritize safety and privacy of many undocumented recipients). 
  • SURJNoVa is part of mutual aid coordination and also have connections to La ColectiVA, the Mayan League and NASEK. The coalition is also doing work in Fairfax. 
  • Arlington Magazine has a great compilation of community efforts (including masks) here



Self-Directed and Informal Things You Can Do

  • Reach out to loved ones and friends, mail postcards, send emails, give them a ring! People need human interaction and it can feel awkward to say hey, I’m kinda lonely right now.  Bonus: There are a variety of pen pal and mailing opportunities, including this senior home in Rockville
  • Watch your local neighborhood listservs for requests or post your own offer. Many existing neighborhood groups have requests and offers, including requests from groups and service agencies. Supply lines are disrupted right now and different routines have shifted what people use. Crayons, board games, bingeable romance books, food, clothes – you might have something to gift or loan.

TIP: Be proactive, specific, and actionable
One great model for support is making proactive offers based on efforts others are doing. “I saw you are starting some community meals, I have too much kale in my garden, would you like me to harvest some and walk it over tonight?” Concrete offers with details and an easy option to say “no thanks” reduces decision fatigue and require less emotional labor.

  • Check in with your neighbors. Going to the grocery store and have extra cargo space? Consider asking if anyone needs anything. There are 10 million immunocompromised people in the United States and 26% of US residents are disabled so it is quite likely you know someone who does not want to risk an errand trip right now. (Note: not everyone will be comfortable sharing why they don’t want to risk going out. That’s ok.)
  • Organize with your neighbors. Consider starting a neighborhood pod to support and coordinate with each other. It could be everyone on your block or apartment building. Direct Services agencies and nonprofits are overwhelmed – informal neighbor to neighbor mutual aid is one way to build community and spread work from formal networks. 
    • Here’s the handbook for DC Mutual Aid neighbor pod organizing
    • Vice has a good roundup of a few general neighbor organizing templates. 
    • Here’s a great guide to do the work safely
  • Sew masks. Especially if you have the supplies (sewing machine, cotton quilting fabric, thread, and a few other things), this is a great way to help. The need for them extends far beyond healthcare facilities—people who work in other essential businesses, frontline food support, immunocompromised people.  Each fabric mask takes ~30 min and the need is never-ending. (Note: if you have capacity and you are receiving/buying masks, pay a fair price for them! Sewing takes skill & time, and materials are not free).
  • Listen, read, and be patient. Volunteer management takes work! A lot of organizations have been flooded by offers to help and requests for support. Sorting, connecting and responding takes time. Many groups and organizations have clear requests they have posted on social media, newsletters and/or their websites. Help them by researching what they’ve already communicated before sending a general email about volunteering. 

Giving money is good too! 

Your local food bank, the Capital Area Food Bank, local fundraisers for service industry workers, local businesses, very large tips on deliveries, local restaurant fundraisers for donated meals and individual people in your networks – all excellent options. Here are some frontline organizations doing amazing work:  

What is Mutual Aid?

Mutual Aid is based on the principle and a long history of practice that everyone has something to give and receive, and that we all must work together for long-term structural change so that everyone can thrive. It is work that values the well-being and dignity of everyone. Many practitioners use the phrase “Solidarity, not charity” to describe it. Learn more about the history and practice of mutual aid in this webinar organized by the Highlander Center. If you are new to this framework, do a lot of listening and be mindful of how you take up space in conversations. 

And remember:

We appreciate you existing and doing your best, whatever that means right now. We are so glad that you are here.

Volunteer with the Trail Ranger Team!

Want to explore and give back to the trails with an expert team? Join us on weekdays on the trails! Really like talking up trails? Join us on weekends doing outreach at festivals! The Trail Ranger team is looking for a few folks to join our volunteer cadre. Volunteer Trail Rangers allow the program to have greater impact, build trail support through experience and bring fresh ideas to our program. What you get: a chance to explore new trails, see behind the scenes of how our trails operate and help keep your community rolling and walking along our trails.

So what exactly are you proposing here?

Trail Ranger volunteer shifts are mostly 4 hours long. Trail shifts meet at a Metro station close to the day’s trail primarily during weekdays. The team meets you there with all the tools and supplies needed for the workday. You and the team ride to the trail and spend a few hours riding the trail, fixing or reporting maintenance issues and talking with trail users. You’ll likely stop for a few snack and water breaks, and potentially join the team for lunch. The Trail Ranger team rides on Anacostia River Trail, Marvin Gaye Trail, Suitland Parkway Trail and Metropolitan Branch Trail. We bring all the work tools – we do ask that volunteers come with everything to keep themselves safe and rolling: a working bicycle and helmet, water bottles, snacks, sunscreen and work appropriate clothing. All shifts are coordinated via a signup form and sent to the volunteer group every two weeks.

But what about weekends?

Most weekends the Trail Ranger team is hosting events or joining festivals to talk up our trails. Do you like talking to folks and spreading the love of bicycling and trails? Oh boy, do we have the role for you! We could always use a few more folks joining us at major festivals. All volunteer tabling is coordinated through the same process as shift volunteering.

So how do I join??

We require you attend a one hour training conference call to make sure that we’re all on the same page about legal road riding, how to do outreach and how to be a Trail Ranger. Sign up here. Already been to a training call? Shifts are here.

Come to the River: Anacostia River Festival!

The cherry blossoms are in peak bloom which means the Anacostia River Festival, one of the District’s biggest annual festivals, is right around the corner! Rivers, trails, bike rides – all the elements for a great weekend. We have a number of ways you can join us for the fun – at one event, or all of them!

Monday, April 9th

Crafting for Anacostia River Festival Bike Parade 5:30 pm – 7:30 pm We’re teaming up with Project Create DC to host a bike craft night for the annual bike parade. We’ll be making river-themed versions of the DC flag so come with your best ideas for local river wildlife flags! Felt and materials provided. More details and let us know you’re coming

Saturday, April 14th

Anacostia River Festival Cleanup 9:00 am – 12:00 pm Help make the big day a success by joining us the day before the Festival for a massive trash removal effort and park cleanup! We’re joining Anacostia Riverkeeper so we should have a decent crowd of folks. We’d all prefer that our watershed not have trash in the first place, but second best is a fun morning with great folks making a tangible impact to prettify our public space. More details and let us know you’re coming

Sunday, April 15th

Ride Along The River with WABA 12:00 pm – 1:30 pm The flowers are blooming, the birds are singing, and the Anacostia River is gorgeous. Join us for a ride that celebrates spring! Come explore the beautiful Anacostia River Trail with us, enjoy a great ride, and we’ll end up at the Anacostia River Festival as a group. More details and let us know you’re coming Anacostia River Festival 1:00 pm – 5:00 pm The big day! 10,000 people, boat tours, crafts, hammocks, and free bike valet. It’s a great afternoon in the park at the Anacostia River Festival. Bring your family and friends and spend the day with us! More details Volunteer at the Festival with WABA 12:30 pm – 5:30 pm The Anacostia River Fest is a huge outreach day for WABA and our booth is busy all day. To pull off all the fabulous programming and get more people biking on the Anacostia River Trail and beyond, we’re going to need some help! Volunteers will be supported by WABA staff, including the Trail Ranger team. The main role for volunteers will be cheerfully greeting Festival-goers, promoting WABA and biking, and answering questions. More details and let us know you’re coming

What’s your #BEaPAL resolution?

The Arlington PAL Ambassador program is looking forward to making Arlington a safer place to get around for all in 2018! That’s why, in January, we’ll be asking the community to share their New Year’s resolutions on how they will be a better PAL (Predictable, Alert, and Lawful road user) while walking, biking or driving in Arlington.   Keep an eye out for more information and outreach event updates in the new year, and if you’d like to participate online, share your resolutions with us:  
    • On Twitter, you can find us @arlingtonpal or just tweet with the hashtag #BEaPAL
    • On Instagram or post a picture of how you get around Arlington, and don’t forget to tag it with #BEaPAL.
  • Or you can post your resolution on our forum.
And now, here’s a year in review of the amazing work the Arlington PAL Ambassadors did this past year. Enjoy!

A rainy yet spectacular Clarendon Mardi Gras Parade!

The time we made some videos for Annmarie’s PALentines Day!


Lots of what we call “trailer-ing” with the PAL bike sign.

My first event as the PAL Coordinator (cry emoji) for Earth Day!

ALL the pizza parties…

Predictable, Alert, Lawful: The Musical!

PAL Popsicle Pop-up, in the heat of summer.

Being a PAL means….

A spooky, safety PALoween on Quincy Street!

Daylight Savings bike light distribution to restaurant employees!

Advocacy with art.

A cold, cold, (but super fun) coffee pop-up!

And finally….the PALiversary party!

Thank you to all of our supporters and volunteers for a wonderful 2017. Join us next year in changing road culture in Arlington!  

We get by with a lot of help from our friends

Every year, hundreds and hundreds of you volunteer thousands of hours with WABA to improve biking across the region. We are so grateful for all of your help! If you volunteer with WABA, thank you! If  you haven’t yet, there are lots of opportunities for everyone to get involved!

Love long rides and fun events?

Sign up to volunteer at an WABA Signature Ride! Volunteers play a critical role in making these events a blast for everyone. The Cider Ride is on November 4th. Help our riders have a great time—sign up to help out!

Want to get more people excited about bicycling?

Join our Arlington PAL (Predictable, Alert, and Lawful) Ambassadors and a whole community of volunteers who host fun outreach events for everyone in the District. Bike billboards, pizza nights, and block parties — all on your commute home.

Looking to help WABA staff?

Once or twice a month, WABA invites volunteers into the office for snacks, drinks, and some behind-the-scenes help. You can find current opportunities here. Your volunteerism makes bicycling safer and more fun for everyone in the region, and it’s a great way to get to know your neighbors and fellow WABA members.To sign up for our monthly volunteer newsletter and learn about all the ways to get involved, click here.

And there’s more…

You can earn a free one-year WABA membership by volunteering! Volunteer with WABA three times in one year and you can apply for your earned membership. To learn more, sign up for our Volunteer Hub newsletter or email volunteer@waba.org.

Serve WABA on the Board of Directors

The WABA Board in 2016

WABA’s Board of Directors is looking for people with a passion to help make the Washington area a safer and more welcoming environment for people using bikes. To this end, the WABA Board Nominating Committee is searching for director candidates with strong leadership skills and experience in helping non-profit organizations execute strategy and development plans. WABA continues to enjoy a growing base of loyal members and a diversifying funding base. As we did last year, we have a particular interest in candidates who can help us further expand our partnerships with a broader pool of private organizations and individuals who share and will support WABA’s goal of making the Washington area the most bicycle friendly in the world. The ability to connect WABA to the broader Washington area network of donors with missions that overlap with WABA’s is a plus. We are also looking for a candidate who can help us ensure that our financial monitoring and oversight mechanisms are robust and efficient. WABA continues to look for board members and partners who can help us ensure that our mission and programming serves the needs of bicyclists in low-income, underserved or local immigrant communities.  The WABA board’s commitment to diversity is real, and weight will be given to candidates that broaden the board’s views and experience. WABA board members are volunteers who serve two year terms and are expected to participate in regularly scheduled board meetings (6-7 per year), serve on board committees as needed, provide counsel to WABA staff in their areas of expertise, and make WABA a significant part of their individual philanthropy. WABA’s board also has a number of committees focused on areas that include advocacy, administration and finance, development, programming, and membership. Board membership is not required for membership on these committees, and some candidates may find service on these committees may be better suited to their time and interests. If you think that you might be interested in appointed (i.e., non-board member) service on these committees, please email mark@waba.org. Candidates who are interested in exploring whether their skills and interests align with WABA’s are invited to make an initial expression of interest in board membership by filling out the form here.  If you have previously filled out an expression of interest, and remain interested, please email me at mark@waba.org.  While the search for director candidates is an ongoing one, the board expects to present a slate of candidates at the February 28th annual members’ meeting. Mark Blacknell is the President of the WABA Board of Directors.

Volunteer to help DC Bike Ride happen!

volunteer image DC Bike Ride is going to be INCREDIBLE: 17-miles of streets in Downtown Washington, DC that will be fully closed to cars for you to bike on. That’s a lot of car-free miles! Plus, there will be a Finish Festival party after the ride with Questlove, the in-house band of The Tonight Show, and White Ford Bronco. But we need a lot of volunteer help to pull this thing off. If you were around when WABA was involved with Bike DC, you have an idea of how awesome and big this event will be and how much volunteer help goes into it. Can you volunteer at DC Bike Ride packet pick up on Saturday, May 21st or at the event itself on Sunday, May 22nd?

Yes, I’ll volunteer at DC Bike Ride!

Here’s some Frequently Asked Questions about Volunteering at DC Bike Ride:

Q: What do I get for volunteering? A: A free DC Bike Ride t-shirt, plus snacks/drinks, and a free one-day Capital Bikeshare membership! Plus, if you volunteer three times in a year for WABA then you get a free one-year WABA membership and all the perks that comes with.

Yes, I’ll volunteer at DC Bike Ride!

Q: What will volunteers be doing? A: Everything from passing out rider packets and bib numbers the day before the event to event set up that morning, showing cycling where to line up for the start and helping to marshal finished riders to the party, handing out water and snacks at Aid Stations on the route, packing up and breaking down the event once it’s over, and helping at the Finish Festival with handing out food/drinks and providing information to guests. Q: What time are the volunteer shifts? A: There are shifts on Saturday, May 21st from 9:30am to 1:30pm and 1:00pm to 6:00pm. Most shifts on throughout the day on Sunday, May 22nd, with some shifts early in the morning and some in early afternoon. Details can be found here.  Q: Where are volunteer shifts located? A: Pack Pick Up shifts on Saturday are located in DC’s NoMa neighborhood at Storey Park, First Street and L Street NE. All Sunday volunteer shifts are located in Downtown, Washington DC along the route and on Pennsylvania Ave downtown. Q: Where is the most help needed? A: With “Packet Pick Up” on Saturday, May 22nd, and on Sunday most help is needed with the “Pre Ride Team”, “Start and Finish Line Team” and “Finish Line Tear Down Crew” shifts. Q: Will I get to watch the Finish Festival and see Questlove? A: That depends on where you volunteer, but you should most likely get to hear the tunes! White Ford Bronco plays from 10am-11am and Questlove plays from 11am-1pm. Most of the volunteer shifts on Sunday allow you to either watch while you volunteer (like “Post Ride Party Crew” volunteers) or listen as you volunteer from your station on Pennsylvania Ave since they will be projecting sound. But when your shifts end, and many early Sunday shifts end by 11 or 11:30am, you’ll be able to come over to the Finish Festival to see Questlove! Saturday packet pick up volunteers are invited to come see the whole festival on Sunday. Q: Will I get free ride entry if I volunteer? A: Unfortunately, the event organizers aren’t able to offer free ride entry for volunteers, plus many of the volunteer shifts take place during the ride itself. Q: What if I want to sign up to ride, but could also help out?/I already registered, but if you really need help, I could help out, is that possible? A: Yes! At this point, we need volunteers so bad that we’ll take whatever we can get. If you’re registered or want to register, and can still help out for a few hours early that morning, please still sign up to volunteer! The ride itself starts at 8am, so you’re best best is either taking a Saturday packet pick up shift or one of the early morning Sunday shifts, like the Pre-Ride Team from 5:45am-11am, and noting in the “volunteer notes” at the bottom of the volunteer sign up form that you are riding so you can help until 7:45am/8am. Q: Why should I volunteer for DC Bike Ride? A: Because this event is going to bring out thousands of people to bike all in one place at the same same time. It’s going to be the greatest public showing of bicycling that this city has ever seen! You can be a part of it by volunteering, and by volunteering you are also doing your part in giving back to the greater DC region bike community. Q: How does this event help make biking better? DCBR organizers are making a substantial grant to us to support WABA’s advocacy work and community organizing for Vision Zero. You can read more about that here. We will have a WABA tent at the event and will be on-site talking to people about Vision Zero and safe streets. So while we are not directly involved in the operation of the event, we’re thrilled it’s taking place and invested in its success. So you should volunteer!

Yes, I’ll volunteer at DC Bike Ride!