Volunteering at NCEFT

Want to make a difference in the lives of children and adults with special needs?  

Volunteers are the backbone of our many programs and services here at NCEFT. Quite simply, NCEFT could not function without our corps of dedicated adults and youth who are committed to making a difference and giving generously of their time. Last year, volunteers  donated over 7,500 hours of service. No matter the job – sweeping the barn or side walking during a hippotherapy session – every moment volunteers spend with us is valued, appreciated and meaningful. Please note that volunteers generally do not have independent contact with our therapy horses. Volunteers instead focus on the care and well-being of our patients and our facility. For information about volunteer opportunities or to become a volunteer, please contact our Volunteer Coordinator at volunteers@nceft.org or 650-851-2271 ext. 1.

 Session Volunteers

Session volunteerEvery patient/client session requires volunteers to make our programs possible. Session volunteers (also known as side walkers) are integral members of the hippotherapy and adaptive riding teams. They work directly with and are guided by our staff therapists and instructors to support the patients and students during sessions. Session volunteers do not need previous experience with horses or with people with disabilities – they just need enthusiasm, strong backs and the stamina to keep up with our patients and horses! Session volunteers walk beside the patient on the horse for the entire therapy session, and their primary job is maintaining the safety of that patient at all times. Side walkers must meet the qualifications noted below as well as attend a training session/orientation prior to working with patients. 

Session volunteers should be able to commit to coming the same day and time each week (usually one to two hours per week) for 8-10 weeks. We operate Monday through Friday from 9:00am to 5:00pm.

Each session volunteer must attend a safety orientation and pass background check before starting in the arena with patients. Side walking training sessions are held roughly every three months.  Please contact our Volunteer Coordinator at volunteers@nceft.org to sign up for our next orientation.

Documentation is available for school credit or work.

Session Volunteer Qualifications:

  1. Be age 16 or older
  2. Be able to walk continually for 60 minutes, bend, twist, raise arms up and jog for short distances on uneven ground
  3. Be able to lift a 35-pound child from horseback and/or assist an adult to the ground from horseback in an emergency
  4. Be comfortable physically having contact with a child or adult with disabilities
  5. Be willing to learn and follow NCEFT’s procedures
  6. Be able to perform tasks with minimal supervision after training
  7. Be willing to help with barn chores and other general grounds beautification
  8. Be flexible
  9. Possess a desire to have fun and be rewarded with the smiles of those you help
  10. Love people, kids and horses

Session Volunteer Responsibilities:

  1. Work in collaboration with NCEFT staff and fellow volunteers to create a positive atmosphere
  2. Be attentive to the patients and riders at all times
  3. Arrive 15 minutes before your scheduled session.  We rely on our session volunteers heavily so your dependability is vital
  4. Assist NCEFT with other things when not helping with sessions during your shift

Facilities/Grounds Volunteers

_DSC5492We always need assistance keeping our grounds and facilities looking beautiful and welcoming. We are very mindful that by maintaining a beautiful, clean and pleasing facility, we actually provide a feeling of respite and retreat for our patients as well as their families and caregivers. The simple act of sweeping the walkways and barn corridors is truly an act of kindness for our clients as well as safety for our staff and horses. If you enjoy being outdoors and around people and animals, we welcome you to contact us for this opportunity. Hours are flexible during our operating hours of Monday through Friday from 9:00am to 5:00pm. Grounds volunteers do need a brief orientation before starting. Please note that volunteers generally do not have independent contact with our therapy horses. Please email our Volunteer Coordinator at volunteers@nceft.org for more information and to schedule a visit.

 Junior Volunteers (ages 12-15)

Young people aged 12 through 15 are welcome to volunteer with prior arrangement with our Volunteer Coordinator. They will help with things like barn chores (mostly sweeping) and keeping our grounds looking beautiful for our patients, students and their families.  After a brief orientation, they should be able to perform tasks with minimal supervision. Documentation is available for school credit.  Hours are flexible during our operating hours of Monday through Friday from 9:00am to 5:00pm. Please note that volunteers generally do not have independent contact with our therapy horses. Do to high demand, we can not take drop-ins. Junior volunteers must make advance arrangements with our Volunteer Coordinator prior to coming to NCEFT.

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Learn More About Volunteering

For information about volunteer opportunities or to become a volunteer, please contact our Volunteer Coordinator at volunteers@nceft.org or 650-851-2271 ext. 1.  Thank you!