When Global Volunteers launched an online gift catalog last year, donors welcomed it as a complementary way to support the communities they’ve served. Read on for two couples’ reflections on giving back while their own volunteer travel is on hold.
11-time alumni volunteers Marcia and Greg Potvin say their years of service abroad has enlightened them to the long-term material costs of community development work. In nine countries from Tanzania to the Cook Islands, they say each service program has revealed more breadth and depth of struggle in the world. “We love to volunteer,” Greg asserted, “but we also have come to realize that there is significant need beyond our presence. Consistent and efficient programming requires regular and timely funding,” he explained. As frequent volunteers, the couple is grateful to return to communities and witness the continual improvement in children’s and families’ lives. That’s why they support Tanzanian children and families with monthly donations. “We realize that the work continues when we’re not on site, and therefore, it’s incumbent on us to help ensure ongoing services.”
Alumna Mary Hauke-Davis agrees that volunteering is just part of the equation. “Volunteers can be present in a community, but we still need the financial support for project supplies, upkeep of facilities, and food and lodging for the local community itself. Without financial support, none of our individual work would be possible.”
Marcia, Greg and Mary are three of many generous donors who, through their online contributions, have invested in the long-term well-being of children, families, and Global Volunteers’ ongoing partnerships.
Through their purchase of a rainwater harvesting system from the Global Volunteers gift catalog, Mary and her husband provided a family of five with a reliable source of clean drinking water as well as water for handwashing, cooking, irrigating a household garden and washing clothes.
“Although I’ve never served in Tanzania (but would like to someday), it was easy to visualize Global Volunteers’ assistance there,” Mary explained. “We wanted to directly support a family and the water harvesting system ‘called’ to us. I have a general understanding of water scarcity in Tanzania, but don’t know specific facts about it. Strange as it may sound, it just seemed like the ‘right thing’ for us to invest in.”
The Potvins likewise attest that witnessing the impact of their gifts is tremendously fulfilling. Comprehensive development through the Reaching Children’s Potential Program (RCP) in Tanzania and other programs they’ve supported through their service and donations afford them a unique opportunity to enhance lives. “It enables us to help people assume responsibility for their personal decisions about family health and community development – and provide the vehicle to make it happen. We appreciate that a substantial portion of all of our contributions goes directly to the needs of local people. In this way, Global Volunteers’ mission correlates with our personal philanthropic goals of investing for long-range outcomes.”
“I’ve seen the work of Global Volunteers myself and know they put the community first,” Mary concurs. She’s confident her donations significantly improves a family’s future. “Access to an easy-to-obtain, clean water supply is beneficial and necessary for good health and development. That’s a positive impact.”
She’s motivated by the oft-quoted words: “To whom much is given, much is expected.” Her privilege, an “accident of birth,” requires magnanimity, Mary maintains. “I’ve benefited greatly by learning about people who are not like me, and have truly enjoyed getting to know the people with whom I’ve worked. In this time of division and mistrust among people who may not look or behave like you, it’s especially important to share what you have,” she reflects. “All I wish for Getrude and her family – who received the water harvesting system – is that they can have a better quality of life. That’s all that all of us ever want.” Enriching others’ lives likewise enriches our own. “I thank Global Volunteers: for giving us and them that opportunity.”