Jeff started volunteering abroad after a personal loss. His service journey was also a journey of healing that lead him to a new purpose in retirement. Jeff’s story describes how volunteering abroad comforts the soul – and allows us to focus on life outside our losses.
Jeff admits his story is deeply personal. When he lost his wife to breast cancer, he also lost his sense of direction. Depression filled the void and he knew he had to regain his life’s purpose. But how? His compassionate employer recommended a sabbatical. But, Jeff knew that sitting around a pool wouldn’t give him the centering focus he needed. He sought something more meaningful. So he started looking for an organization that would give him the opportunity to volunteer and work oversees. He quickly found Global Volunteers online and selected a program teaching conversational English in Italy. He surrendered himself to the experience, to the challenge, the culture and the gratitude of his students. In a small southern Italian town, he felt the comfort his soul longed for.
“The experience was everything I had hoped for: rewarding, fulfilling, purposeful. I knew I found a new direction.”
Team Leader Jeff Rogo
After retirement 15 years later, Jeff yearned to recapture this feeling of optimism and possibility as a volunteer. Knowing Global Volunteers would enable him to keep doing this fulfilling and rewarding work, stay active and travel, he called us immediately after his last work day. He was fully committed to throw himself into service programs worldwide. Becoming a volunteer team leader and helping other volunteers to experience the life-transforming experience he had was a strong motivation. Jeff trained to become a Global Volunteers team leader and has since led volunteer teams in Italy, Cuba, Vietnam and Montana. He says he looks forward to every new journey with the same enthusiasm and hope as his first service program.
Why Global Volunteers?
Jeff chose Global Volunteers because of our short time commitments – instead of having to commit for many months like other organizations. At the same time, Global Volunteers sends volunteers consistently, so it is not about what one volunteer can accomplish in a couple of weeks, but about the long chain of support volunteer teams provide to the host communities.
What do volunteers gain from a service program abroad?
Volunteers give up a lot, Jeff says: Time with their families, time at work, time from regular vacations. But they gain a lot: Friendships that they will never lose and the understanding that they have contributed to something of value to struggling communities in developing nations.
Imagine all the people
When he led a team of 14 women in Cuba, one day a local band started playing John Lennon’s Imagine, and he realized his team was living just that, if only briefly:
“Living life in peace, sharing all the world, living as one.”
This was what Global Volunteer has been all about, he said: Waging peace and promoting justice in the world one volunteer at a time. He said he’s grateful to be a part of it. That same volunteer team witnessed something special. On International Women’s day, the Cuban people handed flowers in the street to the volunteers as they walked by on their way to their service assignments. When the team arrived at the community garden, one of the workers, Adriano, gave flowers to the volunteers. Jeff remarked:
“He spoke a different language, but everyone knew what this meant: “You are special to me, you are important to me.”
Do you have what it takes?
Take a look at your skills, at the work you’ve done, and try to match up with the various projects Global Volunteers offers in 17 countries around the world. Your skills might fit a project most appropriately. Take advantage of that.
“You may say I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
I hope someday you’ll join us
And the world will live as one”