Volunteers have played a significant role in creating the Down Home Ranch we know today. From the old shacks torn down and removed by church volunteers from Cameron and Austin, to the last nail in the newest home in The Village, the sweat and hard work of each of our volunteers has allowed Down Home Ranch to provide a place where people with disabilities live, learn and grow into more independent adults.
“Some people say, ‘you have done so much out here at Down Home Ranch,’ but of course we didn’t. Jerry and I had a vision and other people built it.”
Judy Horton, Co-Founder of DHR
There are no concrete qualifications — we believe everyone can contribute and add value to our community. We want to learn about your interests, so we can match you with a meaningful volunteer experience. Each individual’s time and talents can be used to further the mission of Down Home Ranch; however, training may be required depending upon the volunteer position available.
Current volunteer opportunities
Day Program is seeking volunteers to share their time and talent with Ranchers, Monday through Friday 9:00am-5:00pm. There is opportunity to conduct a one time workshop or be part of our ongoing course schedule, by developing and leading a weekly course for 12 weeks. Take advantage of being part of the Down Home Ranch community by sharing the things that interest you.
Residential is seeking volunteers to support Ranchers to have more individual and small group experiences in the community, after 5:00pm weekdays and anytime on weekends. During these times a volunteer might lead a game night here on the Ranch, provide transportation for a date night to go line dancing or check out the latest movie at a local theater. This flexible volunteer opportunity allows for volunteers who work typical job schedules to share their time, develop friendships and support Ranchers to have more typical experiences in the community.
The Enterprise Program is seeking volunteers to help with farmers markets, festivals and other community events where DHR products could be sold. Currently, the highest need is for the Bastrop 1832 Market, every second Saturday of the month from 10am-2pm. This position will include:
- Transporting goods and equipment from the ranch to the venue
- Setting up the booth space
- Selling of ranch goods, including collecting payment (cash and credit) and bagging products
- Spreading the mission of DHR to all customers and guests
- Tear-down of booth and transporting all remaining goods and equipment back to DHR
The Production Department is currently seeking weekday, daytime volunteers who can teach and assist Ranchers with their sewing skills. This role would include working with 1 or 2 Ranchers at a time while they work on producing handcrafted sewing projects that will be sold in our onsite gift shop, at local farmers markets and online in our Etsy store. By spending time giving these Ranchers instruction and guidance on their sewing skills, not only will you enjoy your time but you will also be assisting the Ranchers in pursuing their entrepreneurial endeavors. Ideally, the volunteer would be able to commit at least two hours per week on a consistent basis.
Ranch Camp is DHR’s summer camp and we’re looking for people of all ages and talents to help us. Whether you’re able to volunteer for a day or all three weeks, we’d love to have you on board! This opportunity has a special volunteer application that will be announced soon. Any applications submitted will be reviewed closer to the start of camp (April-May).
Down Home Ranch offers a wide variety of opportunities for undergraduate and graduate students seeking on-the-job training in a unique environment. We encourage students to email us at [email protected] with questions.
Down Home Ranch is flexible and will strive to accommodate educational requirements. Here are some examples of college majors which could be easily integrated into our operations:
Agriculture: Animal Husbandry, Horticulture, Organic & Traditional Food Production
Business: Accounting, Corporate and Non Profit Business Administration
Communications: Marketing, Journalism, Public Relations, Performing Arts
Education: General Ed, Special Education, Disability Studies
Health: Kinesiology, Nursing, Nutrition, Public Health
Human Services: Recreational Therapy, Sociology, Social Work
Currently, our organization is affiliated with the following programs:
Austin Community College
St. Edwards University (Master of Arts in Counseling; Social Work Program)
University of St. Augustine (Masters in Occupational Therapy)
University of Texas at Austin –Steve Hicks School of Social Work (Masters in the Science of Social Work, and Bachelors of Social Work)
University of the Southwest (Masters of Science in Mental Health Counseling)
Texas State University (Phycology and Social Work)
Round Rock ISD Teacher Externship
Carlee C., LPC-i Counseling Intern from The Christi Center:
“I had a Rancher tell me that driving through the gates of Down Home Ranch was like driving into a new world. He said everything outside was left behind, and you could be a part of this peaceful place. I wholeheartedly agree with that. Being an intern at Down Home Ranch was a comfortable and encouraging experience. When you arrive, you never once feel like a stranger–from the staff to the ranchers, I always felt like I belonged. Developing relationships with the Ranchers felt natural and easy. Interning at the ranch gives you an opportunity to work with clients on their terms in their environment. You get to see them where they are most comfortable and sometimes most vulnerable. Inevitably, that goes both ways, and you can often feel that same comfort and vulnerability when working with all of these wonderful people. Being an intern at the Ranch allowed me to be a part of the Ranchers’ world in a way I could not have experienced elsewhere. I believe interning at Down Home Ranch is a very different kind of intern experience that anyone could appreciate.”
If any of these opportunities excite you, we’d love to learn more about you and invite you to get started today by submitting a volunteer application. You completed application should be emailed to [email protected]. A staff member will contact you shortly thereafter. After your application is reviewed, you will be asked to submit and pay for a background investigation.
Looking for Corporate, scouting, school, church and other group projects? Check out our Group Volunteer Opportunities page for more info and to submit your request today!
What Do Volunteers Do For Down Home Ranch?
We’re always looking for folks with special skills, energy, dedication and enthusiasm. Each and every minute our volunteers spend at the Ranch changes the future for people with disabilities.
You can help the Ranch by teaching a class for the Ranchers, helping us grow our own food, cutting down trees to prevent wildfires or helping our Development Office with data entry or special events.
As you might imagine, we have many opportunities, ranging from a few hours a month to a few hours on just one day — opportunities for just you or for a group you’re a member of. Whatever your area of expertise, your schedule or the size of your group, there’s a place for you on the Ranch!
So, if you love the country lifestyle and also enjoy being around, working with and helping people with Down syndrome and other disabilities, then send us an email at [email protected] and let us know how you’d enjoy helping out at Down Home Ranch.
What Is My Next Step?
Browse through our website and become familiar with Down Home Ranch.
Complete our Volunteer Application Form.
Our Volunteer Coordinator will get in touch with you to discuss interest areas, availability and our current openings for volunteers.
Shadow a veteran volunteer or staff member.
Complete any additional training required for your volunteer placement.
Approval! You’ll be connected with your Volunteer Coordinator on the Ranch.
Complete periodic check-ins with your Volunteer Coordinator.
No Time to Volunteer, Yet Still Want to Be a Part of What We Do?
We’re always looking for lots of moral support! Sign up and join our email community and receive newsletters on all that is going on at DHR.
Or, maybe, you’d like to make a gift to help fund many of our ongoing projects. Your contribution will make sure we have the materials needed for the next wave of volunteers headed for Down Home Ranch. We have a never-ending supply of projects that need the special touch of generous folks like you, so just drop us a line at [email protected] and let us know how you would like to help.