As many of you know, volunteering is a HUGE passion of mine. I have volunteered all over the world, most notably in South America a few years back. It was an experience that completely shaped my life, and I often write about the benefits of volunteering. But today, I wanted to give you a few ideas of where you might be able to go in your own “backyard” to volunteer. Many of these spots listed below are close to my home in North America, and I wanted to offer a wide variety of options for the newbie and seasoned volunteer alike.
So what is holding you back? Take one of my recommendations below and run with it! You never know who you will meet, and what you can get out of it. I am confident no matter where you go, volunteering can completely change your life for the better.
Charleston, South Carolina
Embark on a Philanthropic Getaway: Travelers looking to give back to the local community and rejuvenate their soul can embark on a two-night stay at the HarbourView Inn through the newly launched Solo Southern Retreat Package. In partnership with One80 Place, Charleston’s local community kitchen serving an average of 185 lunches per day, guests can spend the day feeding the hungry before grabbing a complimentary bike from the fleet for cycling adventure down the South of Broad and indulging among locals at the city’s first-ever communal table at Hank’s Seafood Restaurant.
Riviera Maya, Mexico
Responsible Tourism in the Mayan Jungle: For travelers looking to assist local communities, a trip with significance and responsible tourism can be found at Sandos Caracol Eco Resort, where guests have the opportunity to participate in various programs that benefit the beautiful surrounding Mayan communities. In partnership with the Xyaat organization, the property offers eco tours that donate profits to children in low income homes to continue their education, a Pack for a Purpose program for guests to donate school supplies and home goods, and handicraft stands where one-of-a-kind creations made by locals are sold, ultimately helping countless lives in need.
New York, New York
Donate through a Ride on The Coney Island Cyclone: This summer, a ride on the iconic coaster has even more significance – visitors and New Yorkers can honor fallen FDNY Captain Vincent Giammona, a victim of 9/11, with a Ride Like Vinny by purchasing a ticket to The Coney Island Cyclone in which a portion of the proceeds will be donated back to Answer the Call (formally known as the New York Police and Fire Widows’ & Children’s Benefit Fund).
Protect and Snorkel, #ForOurReef: Known for its iconic coral reefs and breathtaking natural beauty, travelers setting their sights on Hawaii’s islands can help advocate for the preservation of the tropical state when staying at one of Aqua-Aston Hospitality’s nearly 50 properties. While vacationing, guests who participate in the #ForOurReef initiative are encouraged to trade-in their chemical-based sunscreen in exchange for a mineral-based, reef-safe sunscreen at any of the properties to help protect the marine-life and reefs from continued damage and coral bleaching.
Herradura, Costa Rica
Reforest the Rainforest: Set on a 1,100-acre rainforest, Los Sueños Marriott Ocean & Golf Resort’s Reforest the Rainforest initiative allows guests to preserve the rainforest by planting a Tropical Almond Tree. As part of The Scarlet Macaw Reinsertion Project, the program allows guests to participate in the resort’s ongoing efforts to preserve the rainforest while creating a habitat for the area’s 150 species of birds and local wildlife by planting a Tropical Almond Tree, beneficial for the preservation of the iconic macaw. Guests will also receive photo updates on the growth of their trees.
Finger Lakes, New York
Farm Sanctuary with Rescued Animals: Nestled in the Finger Lakes Region of Central New York, Farm Sanctuary’s 175-acre animal haven houses more than 500 rescued animals from industrial farming sites all across the country. People who would like to get involved can volunteer by providing aid with shelter operational activities such as maintenance and beautification or administrative activities. Farm Sanctuary recently unveiled their newly constructed tiny houses. Approximately 384 square feet, the house contains one queen bed, one full-size futon, a kitchenette and even a washer and dryer unit. The homes have been renamed and redecorated after some of the most beloved animal residents including Marjorie goat, Amy sheep and Turpentine turkey. The accommodations serve as an ideal way for visitors and volunteers to learn about animal issues and forge a closer bond with the rescued animals at the shelter.
Farm-to-Table for a Cause: During the last days of the summer season, indulging on delicious specialty desserts has never been so rewarding. Guests stopping by Merriman’s Restaurant in Kapalua can feel good about dining on the chef’s famous Hawaii Regional Cuisine, make sure to leave room for dessert! Where for every Pineapple Bread Pudding ordered, Merriman’s Restaurants is committed to donating $1 to the Easter Seal Hawaii nonprofit organization that serves to empower individuals with disabilities and special needs to live an independent and fulfilling life.
Do you have a spot that you recommend to volunteer around the world? Comment below, I’d love to hear from you!