Who am I Giving to Now? What Does this go to? Are you sure… it will make me feel good?

What to give… What to give…

Give my time, my energy, my expertise, my money, my home, my work… so so many ways to show kindness. We can give big or give small, it is all wonderful. We can help someone across the street or take a trip to a third world country to help educated the youth. We can throw an awesome event and give all the money to charity. Or here is one, we can just be kind to strangers. No matter how no matter when it should be because you want to, and really feel good about what you are doing. You want to come from a place of strength and see the people you are helping with loving eyes and compassion. Be happy to be there for them, and the life that is possible, not sad.

I know it can be tough sometimes wondering how to give. Everywhere you go, someone is asking you to give to some cause, and you're not even sure if the money is getting to the right people.  Many of us open the mail and find tons of envelopes with people asking for money.

It can be overwhelming and very confusing. But don’t let that discourage you from giving. You will know what is right for you and never do it because you feel pressure or guilt. There are many wonderful people and organizations out there that really want to help others. Here are just a few gals that I think you should check out.

My friend, Maria, started me on this journey. I wanted to blog her about some incredible work she is doing as a therapist and found out about her trip to Nepal. Well, I just had to share her story and a few others…

Enjoy.

Claire Bennett from Learning Service, http://learningservice.info/, knows all about the do’s and dont’s of volunteer travel, and she has some great advice on how to go about volunteering abroad. The best way to help others and help yourself is through knowledge. "The main advice we at Learning Service give to potential volunteer travelers can be summarized in three of our "mantras":

1. You have to learn before you can help.

2. The people from whom you need to learn are those you are intending to serve

3. True service is long-term, not just what you fit into a short trip abroad

Many volunteer travel programs emphasize what volunteers can contribute overseas. But if volunteers don't take the time to learn beforehand, their efforts may have negligible impact or even do harm. But if the emphasis is on learning (about a country, about issues, about development etc) then it is more likely that the action volunteers take will address a real need. The action may be overseas on a trip abroad, or may be something the volunteers do at home, such as campaigning for a policy change, educating friends about an issue, or even changing the way they consume. We take a broader view of what volunteer travel is and what the impact can be."

If you want to get a lot out of your experience by learning a lot from the people you are helping than Claire is the person to talk to.

Sarah Ehlers is the co-founder of a Broader View, which is a great place to get started if you are looking for a program that you can use to travel and volunteer. She is based right here in Philadelphia (although you do not have to live in Philly to go on a trip). Here is a quote from her: “A Broader View Volunteers (ABV) is a Philadelphia-based 501(c)(3) not for profit charity which specializes in short-term volunteer travel programs worldwide. Celebrating 10 years of service, ABV is a family owned and operated organization with humanitarian trips focused on healthcare, sports, women's support, teaching/education, conservation, animal welfare and child care support work and more. Projects are available throughout Central and South America, Africa and South Asia. You can see the full list of our programs here: https://www.abroaderview.org/

The Diva Girls in Philadelphia partnered with a Broader View last year and traveled to Nepal. Many of the trips with a Broader View focuses on education as well as working with people in need hands-on. Currently, they are raising funds to create a well program in Nepal, and are hosting another trip in May. You should check out the other programs they have all around the world with volunteers coming together from all corners of the globe. If you are interested in volunteering or checking out their other locations, you can chat on their website, https://www.abroaderview.org/, call 866-423-3258, or email volunteers@abroaderview.org.

Maria Reyes is a DivaGirl’s Franchise Owner in Philadelphia (http://divagirl-inc.com/), and through DivaGirl’s connections with A Broader View, she got to travel to Nepal to volunteer. Here is her story: “If you love to travel and help people, volunteering abroad is the best option for you. Divas Abroad, a non-profit division of DivaGirl Inc. and Sexy & Wealthy In Heels, is a volunteer experience to empower and educate women internationally. We travel to less fortunate parts of the world and connect with local women by building rapport and empowering them with our workshops and seminars and donating money to their organization.  

“My experience in Nepal when I went there with Divas Abroad is the best trip I've ever had. I have volunteered in two medical and dental missions before in the Philippines but my volunteer experience in Nepal was more impactful and meaningful. I went to Nepal thinking that I want to help others but I came back to America benefiting more from the experience.  

The DivasAbroad program was all about bringing women together to support each other.  We spent 5 days with the female farmers of Indrayani Agricultural Organization and visited the Disabled Newlife Center (home for children with disabilities), donated books and read at their local library and visited Asha Nepal where human trafficking and rape survivors live and thrive.

The women volunteers from Canada (I'm the only American), where women from different backgrounds and career fields but we had one mission - and that was to empower the women of Nepal.  Each of us (there were 12) lead a variety of workshops, ranging from farming, women's health, relationships, leadership, resilience, and self-care. Some of us (DivasAbroad) told personal stories that resonate with the Nepali women which helped our connection and bonds with them.

My favorite part of the trip was the support I received from my fellow volunteers. We stayed in a modest home and comfortable home of our host family and there was no egos and competition in the group. Every night we gather together and do a reflection of the day and write in our journals. We also helped each other achieve our goals before the end of the trip.  We even went to tourist spots, learned a Nepali dance, enjoyed Nepali food, hiked a part the Himalayas, walked the famous street of Thamel, went to the safari and even danced at the disco.

After this experience, I realized that writing a check and donating money to a charity or a good cause is great but the act of giving your time and volunteering have a bigger impact on people. It shows more care and love towards strangers and it creates a bond that can empower those who are in need and those who are "helping". I put the word helping in quotes because when you devote your time to strangers in need, you don't only make others happy but you also feel happier and both sides get to help each other. My volunteer experience in Nepal is the closest to altruism I've ever done.”

Doesn’t that sound amazing? Sign me up.

Hey did you know that a number of people giving back is raising each year? Everyone one wants to feel good.  There are so many ways - pick one that is you.  Here are just a few suggestions.

Who says you have to wait until March to do some Spring Cleaning? Go through those closets and clean out what you don’t wear or use anymore and donate them. Many nonprofits also need food and household items. They have the need for almost everything you have. You’ll get more room for your Christmas presents and give back.

Trying to get two things done at once? Why not work on your fitness resolutions while raising money for charity? There are many opportunities to raise money while you run.

Love animals? Well, animal shelters also need a little help. Hang out with the animals for a little by volunteering your time, or give some supplies.

Giving back can be as simple as being a good friend. Reach out to someone you know is in need and be a good listener.

Volunteer while traveling. I gave you a bunch of great ideas already, but here is a great article with even more ways to volunteer while traveling:

Can’t wait to hear about all your adventures and the people you met. Please send them my way so I can highlight you and all your awesomeness.
 

-SJW