Volunteer Vacations: A Great Way to Contribute to a Favorite Cause

by Aldene Fredenburg - Date: 2006-11-07 - Word Count: 309 Share This!

Imagine working with a group of new friends, like-minded individuals from every region of the world, on a project close to your own heart. Helping Katrina victims clean up their devastated homes in New Orleans, clearing hundreds of miles of trails for the Appalachian Mountain Club, building houses for Habitat for Humanity in Africa--all are possible activities available to vacationers willing to volunteer their time.

If you already belong to an organization, whether it is a hiking club, an environmental organization, or a group that provides affordable sustainable housing, becoming involved in their volunteer activities is a great way to start. Many organizations, especially those with a national or international membership, offer structured volunteer opportunities all over the country and around the world.

If you'd like to plan a volunteer vacation but don't know where to start, check out Volunteer Vacations: Short-Term Adventures That Will Benefit You and Others. Written by Bill McMillon, Doug Cutchins, and Anne Geissinger with a foreword by actor Ed Asner, this book gives you an overview of the experiences possible and the costs associated with various trips, and information on the many organizations offering such experiences.

These vacations aren't free; you're generally expected to pick up some or all of your living expenses as well as your travel expenses. Some organizations with local chapters have been known to hold fundraisers for chapter members who volunteer abroad to defray some of the expenses.

Even if you can't spare the time or money for a week-long volunteer vacation to a distant location, you can probably find opportunities closer to home. Each chapter of the AMC, for instance, has weekend volunteer activities. You spend your whole weekend outdoors clearing trails and getting to know your fellow chapter members.

Making new friends. experiencing different cultures. devoting your time and energy to a cause close to your heart-what's better than that?

Aldene Fredenburg is a freelance writer living in southwestern New Hampshire. She has written numerous articles for local and regional newspapers and for a number of Internet websites, including Tips and Topics. She expresses her opinions periodically on her blog, http://beyondagendas.blogspot.com.

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