There are many wonderful nonprofits in Yolo County to volunteer with and help serve the community.  What makes volunteering with Empower Yolo special are the people – from the diverse client base we serve to the hardworking staff, and the steadfast board of directors making genuine and unique connections. There are two meaningful ways you can get involved with Empower Yolo by serving on the executive board or joining the Peer Counselor Training – both are worthwhile opportunities to make a real difference in the lives of those we serve and to make a meaningful impact in our community.

“Engaging with a non-profit organization in my local community has been a longstanding aspiration of mine, especially since returning to Yolo County over a decade ago,” says Mayra Llamas, Empower Yolo’s board chair.  “My roots in Yolo County run deep—I grew up here as the daughter of migrant farmworkers, residing in government-assisted housing. During those years, we relied on the support of local non-profits, which provided essential aid. I still recall the impactful clothing, food, and back-to-school drives that sustained our housing community,” says Llamas.

“Now, being in a position to contribute, I feel a profound sense of responsibility for the safety and well-being of the community that supported me. Giving back is not just a choice; it’s a commitment rooted in gratitude and a desire to uplift others as I was once uplifted,” says Llamas.

Empower Yolo has been supporting survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, and human trafficking for 47 years.  Services include emergency shelter, a 24-hour crisis line, legal services, counseling services, transitional housing services, and a clothing closet. Empower Yolo’s resource centers throughout the county help provide wraparound services to families in need such as food distribution, services for the homeless, health care enrollment, youth services, financial empowerment services, tax support and so much more. Over the years the agency has grown and it continues to meet the increased needs of the community.

In 2023, 170 survivors of abuse, of which 91 were adults and 79 were children, received shelter for 10,413 bed nights. 923 crisis calls were made via the 24-hour crisis line. 1,315 counseling sessions were provided for 141 adults and 28 children. 285 victims of crime received restraining order assistance. 698 people were provided rental assistance and housing support. 1,566 people used the clothing closet 5,782 times. 17,588 service sessions were provided for students through the ASSETs program; and our advocates responded to 431 sexual assault clients, of which 299 were adults and 132 were children.

“Empower Yolo holds a pivotal role in the fabric of our community, serving as a beacon of support for many residents. It fills me with pride to acknowledge the dedication of the staff, who tirelessly work behind the scenes as unsung heroes. Their commitment to enhancing the well-being of others is carried out with both compassion and resourcefulness, often without the recognition they truly deserve,” says Llamas.

Empower Yolo’s board is a working board with members who connect with its mission. “Our objective is to attract and onboard board members who are not only passionate about contributing to the cause but are also eager to engage in a genuinely impactful manner. We value active participation, a dedication to service, and the willingness to share expertise and innovative ideas. Equally important is the openness to learn, assume responsibility, and foster strong connections within the community. Ultimately, we seek individuals who are deeply committed to our mission of fostering safe, healthy, and resilient communities,” says Llamas

Expanding services over the years has allowed the agency to serve our diverse community. The board of directors should reflect the diverse population of the County to continue to grow and better serve the community.  “We are particularly interested in welcoming prospective board members who reflect the diversity of Yolo County. We aim to include those who identify as Latino/a/x Hispanic, or African American or have personal experiences as survivors of domestic abuse, have faced homelessness, are bilingual in any language, are first-generation, come from low-income backgrounds, rural communities, or represent other underserved or marginalized groups. By embracing a broad spectrum of perspectives and experiences, we believe we can enhance our understanding and effectiveness in meeting the community’s needs,” adds Llamas.

There are many benefits to serving on Empower Yolo’s board, but for Llamas “being part of a dynamic board that embraces diversity and inclusion,” is one the most important.  Additionally, there is a childcare stipend for anyone who may need it to fully engage in board activities.

Empower Yolo board members are volunteers from many walks of life. Each board member has their own story and meaningful connection with Empower Yolo’s mission. Some board members are so dedicated they even come back for additional terms or join the board after volunteering with other organizations.

“I joined the board because I have been involved with Empower Yolo for over 20 years.  I volunteered through the Prytanean Women’s Honor Society at UC Davis and one of their service projects was to hold an annual Benefit Ball to donate proceeds to Empower Yolo and to also create holiday stockings for the children in the shelter during the holidays.  In recent years, I started volunteering on the external affairs committee.  I became a board member last year because I wanted to further support the amazing work that Empower Yolo has done to benefit those in need in Yolo County.  Hands down, Empower Yolo is the most worthwhile organization I have ever been involved in,” says Lynda Jones, Empower Yolo’s board secretary.

As a board member, there are many interesting and creative ways to support the agency. We encourage you to join Empower Yolo and bring your skills, talents, creativity, and passion and be an agent of change in our community.

“Our responsibility as a board extends to ensuring the organization remains true to its mission, has a clear strategic vision, and upholds the highest standards of accountability. Currently, the board is composed of individuals with a rich diversity of knowledge and experience, empowering us to steer Empower Yolo in a promising direction for the foreseeable future. Our collective expertise is shaping a strategic pathway that we believe will fortify the organization’s impact over the next two decades,” says Llamas.

The board’s role is to support the mission of the organization through providing leadership, oversight, guidance, and fundraising support. Board members attend a monthly board meeting, serve on a subcommittee, and seek ways to contribute positively to the advancement of Empower Yolo’s mission. Empower Yolo’s board is committed to conducting business in a manner that appreciates, enhances, and utilizes the strengths of Empower Yolo’s clients and honors their cultural practices and traditions.  Applications are accepted on a rolling basis. If you are interested in becoming a board member and have any questions contact [email protected].  For more information or a board application visit

Empower Yolo’s Peer Counselor Training is another meaningful way to volunteer and serve the community. Empower Yolo’s Peer Counselor Training (PCT) program is designed to prepare volunteers to support survivors of domestic violence or sexual assault. Our volunteers make it possible for our organization to provide essential services such as our 24/7 crisis hotline, legal advocacy, and community outreach. Empower Yolo’s training program combines curriculum for both domestic violence and sexual assault advocacy, allowing our volunteers to maximize their time and support to as many survivors as possible.

“Anyone with an interest in supporting survivors of domestic violence or sexual assault should apply. Our volunteers come from diverse backgrounds and are brought together by their passion for helping survivors in their community,” says Ariel Inocencio Madrigal, Empower Yolo’s community engagement specialist. We have volunteers who are college students, professionals, retirees, and other residents of our community.

The Spring PCT will be a 6-week hybrid training with virtual and in-person presentations. Completion of this 72-hour training will certify participants as sexual assault and domestic violence counselors in the state of California.  “We are looking for dedicated volunteers who want to make a difference,” says Inocencio Madrigal.  We need volunteers to help with our 24/7 crisis line, resource centers, emergency shelters, children’s program, legal advocacy, board of directors, and community outreach.

PCT is a great opportunity to gain valuable experience in crisis intervention, peer counseling, advocacy, and education. “Through this training, you’ll gain the skills needed to empower survivors, contribute to prevention efforts, and make a lasting impact on our community,” says Inocencio Madrigal.

The spring application deadline has been extended. For more information or to download an application visit  For questions or to submit your completed application contact [email protected].

While Yolo County offers numerous excellent nonprofits to volunteer with and contribute to community service, what sets Empower Yolo apart is the remarkable human connection.  From our diverse clientele, dedicated staff, and committed board, volunteering with Empower Yolo offers a unique and meaningful experience.

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