Why I Give: Volunteers Paying it Forward
Global Volunteers relies on a steady stream of volunteers to serve in partner communities each year, ensuring that essential services continue. Volunteers are our crucial resource – the human capital that partner communities request and require. Most communities also need our help to support their vision of self-sufficiency with additional financial capital. Donors help Global Volunteers invest in local communities’ projects to enable children and families to reach their full potential. Three of those donors share their reflections on giving here:
Sophie Hughes has served on three service programs with Global Volunteers — first in Montana and then twice in Greece — and she is planning to return to Greece in 2022. She said she trusts Global Volunteers to invest her contributions in long-term development outcomes.
Why do you serve with Global Volunteers?
When I first decided that I wanted to have a volunteer vacation, I researched various organizations. The Global Volunteers mission statement really resonated with me. I was also impressed by the range of service programs available in so many countries around the world. I enjoy the Greek program — not only because Crete is a beautiful place — but my work experience involved social work and teaching. This program fits my experience very well. Greece Country Manager Sam Pinakoulaki provides excellent leadership and support. I also enjoy returning to the same program and getting to know the students and parents. It is exciting to watch the students learn and grow.
What considerations go into your giving decisions?
When I donate I want to know that my money is used wisely and reaches the intended recipients. I avoid charities that are known to have enormous operating costs because of staff payments.
Do you believe your donations are well spent with Global Volunteers?
I have great respect for the integrity of Global Volunteers. I trust them implicitly to use donations to their best advantage. Global Volunteers provides a great deal of information and keeps us updated about the work they are doing in their programs around the world via letters, social media posts, and regular contact with their donors.
The pandemic has brought hardship to so many at home and around the world. I am very lucky in that I have not been so severely impacted. I have served three times in the field and intend to go again as much as possible. It is wonderful to see the longevity of the programs and the changes brought about in small communities, many of which are slow and can only take place over time. I have seen for myself the stability of the work that Global Volunteers does.
“I have great respect for the integrity of Global Volunteers. I have seen for myself the stability of the work that Global Volunteers does.”– Sophie Hughes, Global Volunteer on three service programs
Since 2013, Ken has served annually with Global Volunteers. He first served in Montana, and then the Cook Islands, Poland, Italy, Portugal, Vietnam, Peru, and Nepal. He has taught conversational English, tutored reading, and helped build a new kindergarten area at a children’s home in Peru.
It was there, working at Sagrada Familia children’s home outside Lima, he said he found exceptional joy in the youth’s lives. “As always, I loved working with the kids, had a lot of fun, immersed myself in the culture, felt accomplished (tangibly building walls), enjoyed the team and local contacts, and learned a lot. This was my seventh program, so I knew what to expect, but it was even better. Miguel is an amazing person, almost saintly. The kids were happier and more independent than I imagined.”
Why do you donate to Global Volunteers in addition to serving on programs?
I know the founders, several board members, and many team leaders who are very responsible users of volunteer time and money. I support Global Volunteers because it is a true grassroots, on the ground monetary and volunteer effort, supporting community-defined needs. After participating in eight specific programs, I know my additional contributions will be just as effective as my volunteer time. I’ve personally seen the joy we bring to communities as a result of the time we spend with them.
“I support Global Volunteers because it is a true grassroots, on the ground monetary and volunteer effort, supporting community-defined needs. After participating in eight specific programs, I know my additional contributions will be just as effective as my volunteer time.”– Ken Dubuque, Global Volunteer on eight service programs
Why is giving now during the pandemic important to you?
Knowing that programs are shut down due to Covid, as well as the increased need caused by this pandemic, the demand to assist is even greater now.
Why do you plan to serve with Global Volunteers again in 2021?
I love Global Volunteers; I tried other similar organizations prior and was disappointed but after finding this “mini peace corps” I saw firsthand how my time and experience were effectively leveraged. If everyone could have contact with other cultures, I believe war would be non-existent as we would all see each other with the same goals and desires not as rivals for power.
Ken is registered for his ninth service program in October 2021 in Crete, Greece.
Linda Montgomery believes in “paying it forward” for her good fortune over 70-plus years. International travel has been one of the privileges she’s most enjoyed with her daughter, Taya, and son, Aram. It’s why she sets aside a portion of her income from her private investigations business to finance Global Volunteers service programs for Taya and grandchildren Justice and Athena. In 2018, Taya served with Justice in Peru and with Athena on the Blackfeet Reservation.
“I just want to do everything for the children,” Linda says. “I can afford it. We value education for young children, even travel abroad. Some people say they won’t remember it, but just the exposure to other cultures – opening their mind to be involved in the world helps develop their social skills and expands their horizons,” says the former Head Start and first-grade teacher.
And, it cultivates an early sense of adventure and appreciation for different ways of life, she maintains. “It doesn’t matter if they don’t remember. It’s sub-conscious and becomes a part of who they are.” Further, she asserts, “I think it instills the value of helping and sharing, compassion, and open-mindedness that’s so important today.”
While Taya is traveling one-by-one with her children, Grandmother Linda cares for the one at home. “It’s good for Taya to have that individual time with the children, and it’s great for me,” Linda says. For that reason, she also responded generously to Global Volunteers’ 2020 fundraising appeal.
“I don’t want you to go away,” she insists. “Your programs are so well organized and purposeful. Your programs offer so much value. I want them to continue for a long time.”
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