Your Guide to Volunteering in Oakland

Below please find all the info you need to know in advance of our volunteer event on Thursday, March 23 & Friday, March 24. Have an immediate question? Call the events hotline at 800-985-8232.

Tours are currently sold out and advance sign-up is required. Please click here for a list of those registered for the tour - and keep an eye on inboxes on Monday for more detailed info about your tour.

Please read the below in its entirety for timing and meeting locations for each tour. All tours meet at 3:30pm.

Culinary Cuisine Tour, courtesy of Local Food Adventures: Volunteers are instructed to meet at the Oakland Public Library Lakeview Branch (550 El Embarcadero). It is a 10 minute car ride - transportation to get there is one your own and volunteers are advised to take an uber or lyft to meet with their guide. Make sure to arrive at least 10 minutes early - the tour promptly departs at 3:30pm!

Segway Tour, courtesy of Segway Off-Road: Volunteers are instructed to meet their guide at the Marriott Oakland City Center (1001 Broadway). The tour will end at the location of the opening reception. 

OAK Brewery Tour, courtesy of Whole Brew World: Volunteers will meet their guide at Pacific Coast Brewing Company (906 Washington St), a short walk from the Marriott and Courtyard hotels. The tour will end at the location of the opening reception. Bring your ID!

Our opening reception, generously hosted by Visit Oakland from 6-7:30pm, invites volunteers to grab their registration materials, mingle with colleagues and learn a little more about Oakland - while drinking some great local wine at Cerruti Wine Cellars (100 Webster St).

Learn more and meet the amazing people behind local social businesses while there. They will have booths set up around the reception for our volunteers to connect and learn how they make an impact in Oakland and beyond.

Our featured exhibitors:

Global Glimpse: Global Glimpse is an innovative, education non-profit based in Oakland, CA that works to inspire America's next generation to become responsible global citizens. Their program provides high school students with the global skills, perspective, confidence, and motivation needed for college and career success. They are the only global education organization in the U.S. working in partnership with public high schools on a large-scale to provide low-income youth access to leadership development and immersive, international travel opportunities.  For more information, visit or download the 2016 Impact Report

The Town Kitchen: The Town Kitchen is a social enterprise in Oakland with a mission to prepare high-quality, on-demand meals for businesses, while paying low-income teenagers and young adults a living wage and providing valuable culinary skills.

Registration will be available on Thursday evening during the welcome reception at Cerruti Wine Cellars from 6pm - 7:30pm.

Can't make it? We really encourage it for networking purposes, but we understand busy schedules. If you can't be with us Thursday, have a friend grab your stuff, or come see us Friday morning at your assigned worksite to register. Your work site assignment is in the body of the email you received the week before the event.

Red, White, Purple, Orange, Blue & Green Groups: Please meet at Fairyland, 699 Bellevue Avenue

Black Group: Please meet in the lobby of the Marriott Oakland City Center, 1001 Broadway

// Thursday, March 23 - Arrivals //

3:30pm: Optional tours available (advance sign-up required! Please see tour section for meeting locations for each tour!)


6pm - 7:30pm: Welcome to Oakland Opening Reception at Cerruti Wine Cellars, hosted by Visit Oakland -  (100 Webster St) Join us to pick up your registration materials and enjoy food and wine with old and new friends!

>> PLEASE NOTE: There will be NO provided transportation to the opening reception venue from the hotels. It is a 10 minute walk from the host hotels and a very short lyft or uber ride

What do I do after the reception? You are in food mecca! We would suggest making dinner reservations in one of Oakland's incredible restaurants - many right there in Jack London Square. Please take a look at Visit Oakland's website for recommendations.

Our recommendation? Check out the live jazz show at Yoshi's or have fun with friends on the bocce court at Plank!

// Friday, March 24 - Workday! //

8:30am: Coaches depart from the Marriott Oakland City Center (1001 Broadway. If you are staying at the Courtyard, the Marriott is located directly across the street.)


8:30am: Registration available for day-of volunteers. Please see registration section for meeting locations based on work group.

9am: Volunteers are split into their pre-assigned work groups, meet with their team leaders for brief instruction and get to work! 

Water and snacks will be available at the work sites.

Your lunch, provided by The Town Kitchen, will be delivered to worksites at noon.

2:45pm: Work begins to wrap. Volunteers transfer from their worksites to the closing thank you reception.

3:30pm - 5pm: Let's celebrate! Closing thank you reception at Lake Chalet (1520 Lakeside Dr) - please note: food will be provided and we will have a cash bar available.

Our work groups are indicated by colored bandana to help us get you off to the correct work site in the morning. Here is a bit more information about your group - your assignment is provided in the body of the email you received the week prior to the event. Please see below for parking and meeting locations for those wishing to drive to their assignment.

Blue & Green Groups: Will be helping the staff at the iconic Fairyland with building, painting and cleaning projects - learn more before you get there!

Red, White, Orange & Purple Groups: Will throw some gloves on (which we provide!) and help the city crew with a number of planting and landscaping projects at the gardens at Lake Merritt. We will split up in two areas around the lake - red and orange will be working in the gardens, and purple and white will work near the Lake Merritt Amphitheater area.

Black Group: Will work with a local artist to add another beautiful urban mural in Old Oakland.

We organize our work groups based on a number of factors, so we kindly ask that you do not switch colors before the day begins!

Thursday Evening Tours & Reception: Transportation will be on your own!

Please see the tour section above for meeting locations for the 3:30pm tours.

The reception is a short (10 minute) walk from the host hotels to Cerruti Wine Cellars. Click here for walking directions. Uber and lyft is available - please plan accordingly. If you are interested in taking the bart, Jack London Square is a short walk from the 12th street station.

Parking is available throughout Jack London Square at public lots or metered street parking. Click here for a map of Jack London and available parking facilities.

Friday Morning - Work Day: Catch a ride on the bus or meet us there!

If you are staying at the Marriott or Courtyard, please meet us in the lobby of the Marriott Oakland City Center ( 1001 Broadway, Oakland, CA) at 8:20am to transfer to our work sites via motorcoach.

Seats are limited on our coaches, so if you did not indicate on your registration that you would be utilizing the provided transportation, please let Kati know asap.

Parking and meeting locations for Friday work groups can be found here.

The Thursday evening program is casual - please wear whatever you are comfortable in! It is suggested to pack layers in case the evening does get cool.

For Friday, please come wearing your Tourism Cares t-shirt and bring your colored bandana. In addition, the following dress is required:

  • Long pants
  • Layers! It may be cool in the morning
  • STURDY closed-toed shoes! It's function first and not fashion - sturdier sneakers/boots are highly encouraged
  • Your name badge
  • Please bring a hat in case of sunshine
  • Please bring your provided backpack to hold on to any belongings

Did we mention how cool we are going to look? Our t-shirts were designed by the famed Oaklandish, a social business with a mission to spread “local love” through civic pride-evoking tees and accessories. Their designers will make our volunteer shirts beam with OAK
pride - it’ll be a great keepsake to remind you of the work we will accomplish together and of the city’s trailblazer spirit.

On Thursday, we will be serving heavy hor d'oeuvres and delicious wine courtesy of Cerruti Wine Cellars and Visit Oakland. We encourage all volunteers to make dinner plans in one of the awesome Oakland restaurants nearby.

On Friday, breakfast is on your own - so please plan accordingly! The restaurants in both host hotels open at 6:00am.

We will provide you with snacks, a boxed lunch and water throughout the day.

Our workday will conclude with a closing thank you reception (with heavy hor d'oeuvres and cash bar) at Lake Chalet restaurant (1520 Lakeside Dr, Oakland, CA 94612).

A backpack will be provided to all the volunteers so that you may carry your belongings with you on the workday. There will not be a secure area to store any luggage or bags throughout the day, so we would suggest arranging to have your bags stored with the hotel.

Oakland in March is usually temperate, in the mid to high 60s. We suggest you pack layers for the early mornings and evenings.

What happens if it rains?

Don't you worry. Our work can be completed rain or shine and we will provide fashionable ponchos if needed.

We have travel industry professionals representing 65 different companies from 20 states across the US! A copy of the attendee list can be found here.

Why are we doing this work?

We are focusing in iconic areas of Oakland - places that see millions of visitors every year and the crews that are there to maintain them just can't keep up. All of our sites depend on volunteer help to get it all done. Even if the job seems small, just know that because YOU are lending a hand, they are able to focus on the million other things on their to-do list.

What are we doing?

Fairyland: A staple in Oakland, the iconic Fairyland has been open for 60 years and was the inspiration for Disney World. With so much to care for and limited staffing, volunteers will be helping to enhance the animal exhibits, build storage sheds and greenhouses and help with general cleaning and painting projects.

Lake Merritt: The jewel of Oakland, its 3.4 mile heart-shaped shoreline in the center of an exceptionally diverse city is the place for man and nature to migrate, meet and mingle daily. Lake Merritt is a central gathering place in Oakland, and with the large grounds and beautiful garden, upkeep is essential. Volunteer support is crucial to helping the Gardens continue to represent the best of Oakland. The city staff that cares for the site relies on volunteer service to help them with large scale plantings and landscape projects. Our volunteers will be pruning and planting a rose garden, as well as creating "seed balls" as part of an event to help Oakland kids learn more about the bees and pollination.

City Mural: One of the most impressive things about Oakland is the amazing art community. Everywhere you look there are reflections of the talented residents through the graffiti and urban murals. A small group of volunteers will get to play paint by numbers and will work with a local artist to add more art to the city streets. Our mural will become a part of an urban art tour product the CVB is developing.

Make sure you are following us on FB, Twitter and Instagram @TourismCares and use #tcvolunteers and #TC4OAK throughout the workday!