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Volunteer Hero Main
Volunteer Hero Main

The Presidential Yacht USS Potomac is run by volunteers. More than 50 women and men volunteer for this Historic National Landmark and all the organization’s programs and activities.

The opportunities for volunteers span a wide range: keeping up with the ship’s maintenance, joining the speaker’s bureau, working as an IT specialist, editing the newsletter, staffing the cruise, giving dockside tours, working in office and administrative positions, and leading educational programs. No special background is required, simply a desire to be part of our USS Potomac staff and to have fun—because you will!

The USS Potomac Association believes that every volunteer is an asset, and we take time to ensure that you are well-trained and supported. As a new volunteer, you will experience a 3-hour orientation and introduction session, and each year there is a refresher on specific opportunities. We provide learning materials for you and we have a library devoted to FDR, Eleanor, and the era. The best way to learn, however, is from the other fabulous volunteer docents, who are the heart of the USS Potomac.

Volunteer Information

Leading history tours and keeping up with the ship’s maintenance are the most needed volunteer opportunities today, but all the opportunities are important. Our cruising season on the San Francisco Bay typically starts in April and goes through November 11 each year. 

There are two requirements to volunteer; (1) that you be fully vaccinated against COVID and (2) you have a desire to give some of your time to the most historic operational vessel on the San Francisco Bay. We hope that you will be available to volunteer for a minimum of two events each month (8–10 hours). We encourage a higher level of involvement, should your experiences be positive and your availability permit it.

Volunteer Opportunities

History Docents

The History of the USS Potomac, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Eleanor Roosevelt, and the Era of the Great Depression and World War II is the framework for all the Association’s activities. Educating students of all ages about this amazing couple’s accomplishments and place in United States history is our mission. History Docents are trained to lead guided tours of the USS Potomac, either dockside or while underway. They guide visitors on tours and cruises, answer questions, build excitement, and contribute knowledge about this extraordinary time in America’s history.

Educational Programs

History Docents lead our Educational Cruise Program. This program is for students in fifth grade and above. The Presidential Yacht USS Potomac becomes a classroom that opens the door to this historic era. Schools schedule field trips for docent-led dockside tours or tours while underway. Student underway cruises last about an hour.

Maintenance Volunteers

Even though the USS Potomac was built in 1934, it is in excellent condition, both in appearance and in operation. The ship is maintained by an all-volunteer group under the guidance of a professional Ship Keeper. Maintenance volunteers work on the mighty Enterprise engines, keep the teak decks and brass fittings beautiful, chip and paint, and do all the duties required to keep our USS Potomac a shining example of maritime excellence. All of this is an ongoing job that is done with love and care by a fabulous group of volunteers.

Speaker’s Bureau

The USS Potomac Association offers talented volunteers who speak to civic clubs and other groups that are interested in its fascinating history. If you enjoy public speaking (and even if you don't), we would love to have you join us and share the USS Potomac with others.

Operations and Administrative Volunteers

The USS Potomac Association’s operations and administration are handled by very competent volunteers. They coordinate our cruises, maintain our Friends of the USS Potomac donation program, maintain our web pages, answer phones, write our communications newsletter, and handle many other tasks.

How to Join

Join us and become a volunteer! Volunteers are welcome anytime, and new volunteers are trained on an ongoing basis. Just fill out the application below, and mail it to the USS Potomac Association at 540 Water St, Oakland, CA 94607.

You can also scan your application and email it to us at:

You may send your questions to this same email address or call for additional information (510) 627-1215.

Download Volunteer Application

New Volunteers/Docents Educational and Training Materials

If possible, download, print, and read the following sections prior to attending a New Docent Orientation Session: Section 1, Section 2A, Section 2B, and Section 3A.

Volunteers Having Fun

Each year, the USS Potomac volunteers and their guests get together for the Volunteer Potluck Cruise. The food is fabulous, and the fellowship is even better. The Association sponsors the cruise and provides beverages and a main dish, while the rest is an amazing potluck.

USS Potomac volunteersUSS Potomac volunteers

USS Potomac Newsletter

Top Stories

The Cuff Links Club
By Les Dropkin
The Cuff Links Club–an expression of gratitude that evolved into an annual celebration.

From the First Lady
Eleanor Roosevelt’s thoughts on the trouble with government.

Mooring Lines
By Virginia Rapp
An unexpected change in course takes the USS Potomac to the USS Iowa and a trip back in time.

Captain Daniel J. Callaghan–The Rest of the Story
By Joe Winkel
The legacy of Captain Callaghan, FDR’s Naval Aide from July 1938 to May 1941, who subsequently lost his life while on the bridge of the USS San Francisco during the Guadalcanal Campaign.

USS Potomac Profiles
Art Haskell–the USS Potomac helmsman for charting the course of all things financial.