Considering how many of us make New Year’s Resolutions only to ignore them, I thought maybe it would all work out a bit better making February Resolutions. I love the idea of setting new goals as a New Year rolls around again, Welcome, 2020. However, I’ve had it with the most often repeated and popular New Year’s resolutions: Exercise; Get in Shape; Lose Weight; Save Money; Eat Healthy; and Improve Self-Care.
I’ve decided 2020 is the year to reach beyond my usual routines to expand my horizons by helping others. I have two major goals to begin working on immediately for my 2020 Resolutions. One is to directly help more people and advocate for animals in every way I can. As an Immersion Traveler, I am happiest combining travel with giving back and love planning the details for my next volunteering/vacation endeavor.
Immersion travel means taking an active part in where you visit to learn about the culture, traditions, and characteristics of each particular place. Helping is all about volunteering in great locations and making new friends while helping yourself and others. Giving of yourself is the greatest gift there is to give. Programs that need volunteers flourish all over the country, creating wonderful mini-immersion excursions that encourage all of us to commit time, talent, and energy to a myriad of meaningful and worthy causes. Whether you choose to raise funds for a nonprofit organization, or lend your talents tutoring school children, or spend an afternoon raking and clearing a trail, volunteering has enormous benefits. Follow your passion across the country or just around the corner.
Think about this: When, where, why and for how long are you available to volunteer in some way on your next trip? Do you travel for business and find that you have some downtime between appointments? Planning a family vacation in a new location and want to meet some of the local residents?
Consider One Brick(www.onebrick.org), headquartered in San Francisco, California, an all-volunteer, nonprofit organization. Its mission is to enable people to get involved by creating a social and flexible volunteer environment with chapters in Boston, New Orleans, Seattle, San Francisco, New York City, Chicago, Washington D.C., Silicon Valley, and Minneapolis-St. Paul.
Each volunteer event, which typically lasts three to four hours, is followed by a gathering at a local restaurant or café so participants can relax and get to know one another. Events are indoors and outdoors, to benefit children, the environment, food banks, schools, inner-city neighborhoods, and other worthy causes. There’s also One Brick Builds which focuses on enabling volunteers to help in communities following natural disasters. They have a trip coming up: Sunday, February 2 from 12:00 p.m. on in Yabacoa, Puerto Rico, with a call for “all hands and hearts” to help.
You choose when and where you want to volunteer, without making a longer-term commitment, and adjust your volunteer activities to your own schedule, whether you live nearby or are traveling to a participating city. One Brick supports more than 500 organizations and last year, over fifty thousand volunteer hours were donated. There is a long list of organizations that have benefited from One Brick’s efforts, and more are added each month.
Check the calendar of events on the One Brick Web site. Click on those you like, there will be a detailed description that with the date and time commitment, what you will need, what will be provided, meeting location, directions, and the e-mail address of the contact person for the event. RSVP online or sign up for an e-mail reminder. When planning your next trip to any of the cities served by One Brick, check the website for volunteer opportunities that coordinate with your schedule. You’ll return home knowing you made a difference and a few new friends you’ll want to visit again.
My second New Year Resolution is to release my newly updated Immersion Travel books, a series of five on taking an active part where you visit to learn about the culture, traditions, and characteristics of each particular place through helping, learning, working, caring and playing. The first one will be Immersion Travelers Advocating for Animals: USA and Around the World, due out May 2020.