Bringing awareness to the benefits of service travel

Monthly Archives: March 2012

Katrina’s Legacy: Green Spaces

A Home in the Lower Ninth, Covered in Overgrowth

Image source: Astudiointhewoods.org

New Orleans has been through a lot. Katrina famously demolished whole neighborhoods while residents, many of them poor, suffered. Some of the storm’s effects were immediate—massive flooding, cut-off emergency services, a lack of clean water or food—and others were longer-lasting—water-borne illness, violence born of desperation, lost insurance coverage, and unemployment (to name a few). Today parts of the city are still underwater, if metaphorically. The Lower Ninth Ward, one of the hardest hit neighborhoods because of the failed levees, has become a jungle… literally. As residents fled, streets were left without tending, and, in time, nature has taken over.

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The History and Mission of Habitat for Humanity

A Volunteer Group Working Together to Put Up Walls for Habitat for Humanity

Image source: Glassdoor.com

When I think of volunteering, one of the first organizations that comes to mind is Habitat for Humanity. Founded in 1976 by Millard and Linda Fuller, Habitat for Humanity has become a world leader in volunteering. Nearly 2 billion people on planet Earth live in slum housing. Over 100 million people are homeless. Habitat’s focus is on providing safe, affordable, decent housing for these people around the world. They strive to be environmentally friendly whenever possible by using sustainable materials and energy-efficient construction. Their disaster response program is aimed at providing shelter and housing to help families in the wake of natural disasters like fires, floods or earthquakes, wherever they occur.

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Free and Paid Volunteer Opportunities The World Over

Teaching Local People in Mali How to Use Digital Resources

Image source: En.wikipedia.org

As we have discussed here before, volunteering abroad can be an expensive prospect. Even when you’re working with programs that provide food and housing, you’re still responsible for airfare and other travel-related expenses, and in this difficult economic climate that can really add up. It’s a bit ironic: economies all over the world are suffering, and that means communities everywhere are in need of help, yet volunteers are financially pressed too. I wonder how many people decide not to volunteer because of financial concerns. My guess is, a lot. While I was doing research for my cousin—she wants to volunteer in Asia but has no savings to pay for airfare—I stumbled across some excellent volunteer programs that cover all expenses. Some even offer a stipend! The only catch is that most of these programs are looking for people with specific types of experience. However, the needs are broad and many people will qualify. For example, my cousin is great with computers so I recommended Geekcorps.

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Pajama Program: Keeping Kids Cozy!

Students from The Todd School in Westchester

Image source: Wressentials.com

At 38, Genevieve Piturro was married and successful, but she felt like something was missing. She never wanted to have children of her own, but she loved children and wanted to be around them. So she started volunteering at local shelters, reading to the kids before bedtime. She was surprised by their lack of a bedtime routine. For those of us lucky enough to grow up in a home with parents, bedtime was our chance to get cozy, to slow down from the day, and to feel loved. But these kids didn’t have that comfort. They didn’t even have pajamas!

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The Humanitarian Honeymoon

Teresa and Andrew Allen in Pommern on Volunteer Honeymoon

Image source: Today.msnbc.msn.com

I got married a year and a half ago and it was the most magical, romantic day of my life. Deciding you want to be with one person forever is one of the biggest decisions there is. Once you’ve made it—once you’re sure about your love and your commitment—standing there and promising yourself to your best friend, to the love of your life… well, there aren’t words. I couldn’t stop crying tears of joy. My husband couldn’t either. We were two blubbering messes holding each other in front of our families and friends. It was the most soaring happiness I’ve ever felt.

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