Volunteer Team Leader Lucy Heegaard (left) began volunteering with Global Volunteers in 2015 in St. Lucia. She then served in Poland in 2017 and went through Team Leader Training later that same year. She has also updated her training twice since then — in December 2019 and April 2022. She served in Cuba in 2018 and has since led two teams in Cuba. Lucy is a former elementary school teacher who loves the service and travel elements of Global Volunteers. Lucy is dedicated to volunteering and giving back. Read on for details on Team Leader Lucy Heegaard.
How did you come to start volunteering with Global Volunteers and then begin leading teams?
Back in 2015, I was looking for a meaningful spring break experience that I could do with our youngest son, who at the time was a junior in high school. I knew he would enjoy being warm and in the sun, but I personally wanted to do something that would give him lifelong impact. My husband had heard of Global Volunteers. When I went to the site, I was excited by the possibilities. St. Lucia is what spoke to me the most. Both my son and I had full, fun, and meaningful experiences in St. Lucia. We really enjoyed working with elementary school kids in the village of Anse la Raye. It was interesting to share the experience with a whole team. And my son was happy that at the end of the day he got to get out on the beach.
In 2017 I went to Siedlce, Poland with Global Volunteers. I just loved the experience. Our team worked hard. We had our day placements and then in the late afternoon worked locally with kids after school to help them with their English. They were a lot of fun! When you are trying to keep kids whose first language is not English engaged, you have to get creative. And that we did.
At the end of our service program in Siedlce, Dorota, the director of the Poland program, asked if I would ever consider being a team leader. Of course I was intrigued. I attended Team Leader Training in December 2017 for the first time.
The next year in February I joined a group from The Hudson School in Hoboken in Ciego de Ávila, Cuba and that fall led my first team, in Havana. I renewed my team leader training in December 2019. I had other plans to lead in Cuba and then the pandemic hit. It sure was wonderful to lead the first team back to Havana this past April. I did that right after attending my third Team Leader Training and was so happy to get back to service.
What compels you to lead teams for Global Volunteers?
I love that team leadership brings together so much of who I am, a teacher, a learner, and one interested in doing what I can to positively impact the world. And travel is a passion for me. I feel so fortunate for the many experiences I’ve had around the world. Leading teams for Global Volunteers feels like a wonderful way to combine two loves of mine, travel and volunteering.
Why do you recommend a Global Volunteers service project?
Gordon B. Hinckley said in Standing for Something: 10 Neglected Virtues that Will Heal Our Hearts and Homes, “One of the great ironies of life is this: He or she who serves almost always benefits more than he or she who is served.” I recommend a Global Volunteers service project for multiple reasons. One of them is because you will benefit from the experience. It will fill your heart in interesting ways, I guarantee it.
I also recommend a service project because it’s a great way to make deep bonds. I’ve traveled a lot in my life, and am very grateful. How often when I travel do I make lifelong friendships? Not very often. Global Volunteers puts people together working toward common goals. It’s amazing how quickly you can bond with people from your team, and with local people. And oh do I learn when I volunteer. I learn about others. I learn about myself. I always come home with new titles of books to read.
What is your favorite aspect of leading teams in Havana?
There are so many aspects of leading teams in Havana that I love: I love that we get to stay with local families. I love the projects with which we are involved. I love the people. I love the sun. I love all that we get to do during our free time.
What can you say to people who are thinking about joining a service program for the first time?
You won’t regret it. You will have much to give the team, and the team and community will have much to give you.
Lucy Off the Clock
Lucy grew up in in the Land of 10,000 Lakes, Minnesota. She graduated from the University of Minnesota with a B.S. in Elementary Education and a minor in French. She taught for seven years before parenting full-time. She and her husband, Jeff, have three children. All of them, and their dog, lived in Gijón, Spain for two years. She has been fortunate to travel extensively on all continents except Antarctica.
Some of Lucy’s passions are tennis, birdwatching, hunting for morel mushrooms, being out in nature, and photography. Lucy is a believer in trying to give back to one’s community. In the past years she has been a Master Naturalist; led the committee that fundraised to bring Positive Coaching Alliance to Minnesota (the organization’s mission is to change the culture of youth sports so that every child, regardless of social or economic circumstance, has access to a positive youth sports experience); been a Girl Scout leader; helped co-facilitate a toy lending library and clothing closet at her local ECFE center; helped co-start a publishing center at her kids’ elementary school; been on the boards of Youth Frontiers, The Maren Fund, Camp St. Croix, and Minnesota’s chapter of Positive Coaching Alliance; and worked in the clothing closet at our local food shelf.
Lucy will be leading the San Juan, Texas service program starting on November 12, 2022 (and she’ll be serving there as a volunteer on the September 10 service program).
To join a service program under Lucy’s leadership, chat with a program expert now.