Volunteer Vacations

2011 has hit America and nations around the world with so much devastation from drought, hurricanes, tornados, floods, poverty, and so much more. What some of you may not realize is that there is something besides donations that you can do to help those in need – go on volunteer vacations! Volunteer vacations can offer you a getaway to help others regionally, nationally, and worldwide. You have an opportunity to help people and animals in need. Whether its one week, one month, or one year, there is a volunteer vacation for everyone! 

Books

Lonely Planet’s Volunteer: A Traveller’s Guide to Making a Difference Around the World

This book features more than 190 organizations that welcome volunteers to help in the community. It is a great guide to help you choose where you want to volunteer, how to make sure everything is settled at home before you leave, information about different programs, and the culture shock you may experience after you come home.

 

Volunteer Vacations: Short-Term Adventures That Will Benefit You and Others

This is a great book if you want to see the different organizations that allow you to volunteer with them. Once you find an organization you’re interested in, you can find it in the book and it gives you lots of information on: the project type, basic overview of the information, what work you would do, location, timeline, cost, contact information, and what you need to do to get started! This book is a great resource if you are interested in participating in a volunteer vacation. There are great indexes in the back of the book that feature projects by: cost, length, location, season, and type. Even disability, family, and senior-friendly organizations that welcome help!

 

Volunteer Vacations Across America

If you are searching for volunteer vacations in the U.S. so you can help your nation and not stray too far from home, this book is for you. There is an index that breaks down the information in the book by organizations, regions, and by activity. They even have volunteer vacations for families and teens. If you do not want to stray far from home, the region index is what you would want to focus on, especially since it will give you the state next to the organization. Each organization provides you with contact information, what you would do, and some even have personal stories.

Organizations

Habitat for Humanity is a great organization where you can donate your time. Habitat for Humanity builds sustainable, energy efficient, healthy homes for low income families all over the world. They also have disaster response program where they provide shelter and housing solutions to help families recover from devastation. There are programs for teens and women, and both local and worldwide locations where you can help build houses. Habitat for Humanity welcomes both skilled and unskilled builders. If you are unskilled, as long as you’re willing to learn, you can volunteer. There are other volunteer opportunities within Habitat for Humanity if you do not want to help build houses. If you are looking to help rebuild or donate, look at Joplin, Missouri Habitat for Humanity to help your neighbors recover from tornado devastation. Habitat for Humanity also accepts monetary donations. 

The Red Cross is an organization that helps people all over the country. There are many local chapters that you go to and they will help you get started. Their website does a great job of finding you a place to volunteer based on your area of interest and the distance you are willing to travel. The Red Cross, like many organizations, trains you before you are put into the field to help.  The Red Cross always accepts monetary donations, and you can decide where your donation goes: where the need is greatest, disaster relief for countless crises (tornados, floods, wildfires, etc), help for military members and their families, your local Red Cross chapter, Horn of Africa drought, Japan earthquake and Pacific tsunami. Want to provide more than money? In-kind products, reward programs, giving blood, and fundraising are great ways to help, too!

 

The American Hiking Society is the only organization that promotes and protects our hiking trails and experiences. The American Hiking Society’s volunteer vacations are only one week long. Volunteers must backpack or hike to the designated worksite. Housing accomodations include cabins, bunkhouses, or a tent. There are over 70 different projects in 30 different staes. Projects range from easy to extremely strenuous fitness levels, and you are able to choose projects based on your fitness level. The American Hiking Society has adventures for the whole family, and there are no skills required. It is a great adventure to get in touch with nature and all you need is your camping gear and a willingness to get dirty. The American Hiking Society is the only organization that supports our hiking trails, and if hiking is not for you, you can always donate towards the cause!