The Volunteer Program is currently on hiatus. We are not accepting applications until further notice.
The Path of Service volunteer program is a long-standing Ojai Foundation tradition of immersion in mindful service, community living and the natural world. Finding the freedom possible in seva or selfless service, volunteers play a key role in caring for and stewarding this Land Sanctuary.
The emphasis is on teamwork, voluntary simplicity and hands-on-service; the context is creating safe and nurturing support for The Ojai Foundation’s programs and guests. The goal is an experience of increased purpose and meaning in one's life.
Dedicated Volunteers work closely with a sanctuary staff member, offering a high level of support. A 3-month commitment is required, with potential to stay longer (up to 6 months).
Come prepared to work, to learn, and to share your gifts!
Some features of The Ojai Foundation (TOF) community experience:
- Living and working in a natural rustic environment with a dedicated team supporting healthy relationships with all of life
- Being integrated into a dynamic community based on service, mutual respect, and open communication
- Engaging in ceremonial experiences as well as communal council and skill based trainings
- Weekly community councils to share the experience of being in community
- Learning about and participating in regenerative land and building projects
- Engaging in mindful work and Beauty Way teachings
- Spontaneous group gatherings and potlucks
- Opportunities to attend TOF programs at a discount when possible
- Time for personal reflection, renewal, and deepening one’s own practice
"Only when we give joyfully, without hesitation or thought of gain, can we truly know what love means." - Leo Buscaglia
Departments and Responsibilities
Volunteers provide service in our Beauty Way, Maintenance, Land, and/or Administration departments. Satisfaction depends on your attitude and intention, and growth comes from carrying out these tasks with a spirit of willing service.
All positions in our service departments can be physically strenuous at times, and we require you to be of sound physical and mental health. Individuals with health challenges are encouraged to contact us to discuss possible volunteer placements before applying.
All volunteers offer 25 hours per week in a designated area.
- The Beauty Way team takes care of preparing and beautifying the guest accommodation (domes and yurts), shrines, sacred and ceremonial spots, and the shared gathering spaces.
- The Land team helps to keep the grounds fruitful and beautiful. These volunteers are involved in maintaining existing landscape according to permaculture principles, removing dead brush and trees, tending to and propagating new plant materials, collecting and hauling rubbish, recycling and making compost, construction and upkeep of the structures and infrastructure.
- Administrative volunteers assist with various aspects of the on-going social-profit (non-profit) business depending on their skill.
The Application Process
We consider volunteer applications throughout the year. Please fill out our online application here.
We carefully consider all applications, and not all applicants will be accepted. We accept volunteers based on the individual’s resonance with The Ojai Foundation’s mission and vision, commitment level, skills, availability, and the needs of the sanctuary at the time of application.
Once your application has been processed, you will receive an email confirmation from our Volunteer Coordinator that your application has been received. At this time, the Volunteer Coordinator will request a time to set up an interview with you. A second interview with a department team member may be scheduled while your references are being checked (pertinent to new applicants only). It can take up to 4 weeks to receive a final decision so please apply with this timeframe in mind if possible.
Additional information and forms will be sent if you are invited to TOF as a volunteer. We require all prospective residents to have a Live Scan before arrival.
Guidelines and Requirements
● A personal practice or a commitment to learn while using all aspects of daily life as practice
● A flexible schedule and willingness to work on weekends as needed
● Physical, mental and emotional stability
● The ability to take direction and a flexible mental attitude
● Adaptability to changing situations and environments
● All prospective volunteer residents will need to obtain a Live Scan background check.
● Comfortable with working, living and practicing with limited privacy, in close proximity with a community of diverse individuals
● Skills in the area of their choice and TOF’s needs
● The ability to make a minimum commitment of 1 month in the summer and 3 months in the spring, fall, and winter.
● The financial resources to sustain personal needs (medical, transportation, clothing, and visa costs if coming from another country) during your time here.
● A good sense of humor and communication skills
*Please note: We require all volunteers to be 21 years old or older.*
TOFs vibrant community is comprised of guests, staff, and volunteers from all corners of the world who live together on these 40 acres of beautiful land in the Upper Ojai Valley.
Living in community is a wonderful opportunity to get to know people deeply and to share most aspects of life. At the same time, it can also be very challenging. One reason for this is that all space (other than your own private tent) is communally shared. Living in close proximity may also test your personal boundaries, so we recommend patience, tolerance, and cleanliness as daily practices.
TOF is a very dynamic retreat center with many circles operating simultaneously. As a result, scheduling details and other information can change very quickly, and qualities of flexibility, resilience, and spontaneity are very important. Due to our unique environment, all TOF residents and volunteers are asked to aspire to meeting the Community Guidelines and Intentions in order to facilitate the healthy functioning of our community.
Many volunteers wish to stay at TOF for longer than their initial commitment. We welcome extension requests once you have been volunteering with us for at least one month and have successfully integrated into the community. Approval of your extension request will be dependent on availability of space, feedback from your team, and your relationship with the community.
All volunteers bring their own private tent and bedding. There is access to shared ablutions, and a camp kitchen where you will be able to store your dry goods in a bin, and perishables in a fridge, and prepare your own meals. Basic ingredients such as oil, condiments, spices, tea, coffee, sugar, and oatmeal are provided. There is also a central yurt for quiet reading, computer work, or just hanging out. Wi-Fi access is available for those who wish to stay connected via a mobile device. Please avoid bringing valuables or excessive items.
How do I get to The Ojai Foundation sanctuary?
Our physical address is 9739 Ojai Santa Paula Road, Ojai, California. Transportation information will be sent to you once your application has been approved.
Do I need to have a car?
While it is useful to have your own transport, it is not a requirement, as long as you are happy to arrange a ride with another member when needed. We discourage hitchhiking on the highway.
How far away is town?
Ojai is a 15-minute drive by car.
What kind of food am I able to prepare in the camp kitchen?
According to Health Department Regulations, we may not provide any food service. However, guests and staff may prepare their own food in our vegetarian camp kitchens.
TOF provides basic ingredients such as oil, herbs, spices, teas, sugar/honey, and oatmeal.
How will I be scheduled for service? What will I be doing?
During your application process, we do our best to match you with a position that matches the interest you expressed on your application, your skills, and our departmental staffing needs.
Will I be paid for my service?
No money is exchanged for volunteering.
What should I bring?
We will send you a list of what to bring, depending on when you’ll be here.
What can I do on personal reflection days?
● Take time out to reflect, read, write, draw, walk, or do nothing at all
● Hike in the nearby Sespe wilderness
● Visit and explore the nearby town of Ojai
All volunteer work at TOF is “At Will.” At the same time, TOF works to keep volunteers in the circle, and we meet with volunteers who are having troubles being in our community. If the situation seems unresolvable, we agree to part ways amicably. Also, if a volunteer desires to leave, s/he can do so at any time; and, we hope that the volunteer will feel comfortable enough to discuss their situation with us before departure.
Volunteers abstain from illegal drugs of any kind and hard alcohol while at TOF. Moderate amounts of wine or beer may be shared during celebratory gatherings. If you have an alcohol drug problem that is not treated, TOF is not a good place for you.
If a work-related injury occurs during working hours, volunteers will be covered under TOFs General Liability Accident Rider while on the land. During non-working hours, health insurance coverage is your responsibility. Private health insurance is not a condition of acceptance to this program, but it is strongly recommended.
To inquire about volunteer opportunities, please call our Volunteer Coordinator at 805-646-8343 ext. 136.