TRAVELTEER: Where Travel Meets Volunteering

1 There is something special about Charleston. I have talked (and argued) my entire life about how amazing Virginia Beach has been to me and how I can’t see myself living anywhere else…well all that changed at the end of my week in Charleston (or maybe it was the very first day, who knows). All I know is, while I was driving back from volunteering and passing through the city, it just dawned on me in that goose bumps on your arms kind of way. Maybe it was the view from the James Island Expressway, maybe its the moving sound of Oceans by John Butler Trio playing in the background, or maybe it is the fact that I was the one driving and that’s how I bond with cities…but that moment came together and I felt that I wanted to be a part of this place. I wanted Charleston to be home.

2 As I’m feeling more confident than ever that I found the future headquarters city for Travelteer, I continue to realize the positive impact Travelteer is having on my life and the organizations around it. I can honestly say that I have never had a drive to do anything or pursue something more passionately in my entire life and this week has shown the extreme impact that can have on me. The days are completely filled to the brim; by noon we have already volunteered for a cause or experienced a new aspect of Charleston never before discovered. It really has made me appreciate each day as a different chapter of being a Travelteer, and although it can be exhausting at times, the reward is seeing the impact you can make while still having the time to go live the city that you’re helping!

3 I have to admit, coming in to Charleston, albeit determined, I didn’t know what to expect. I was curious how the balance between volunteering and traveling would play out. By the end of this trip, I have to say, my favorite parts of this journey have all been from volunteering with local non-profits. Now let me clarify, seeing the sights and venturing through all the different areas of Charleston has been unforgettable. Seeing what Charleston had to offer through it’s culinary experiences, beaches, downtown, and beyond – it was easy for the city to cast its charm and enamor me. Yet still, talking and working with local people from the area, getting to know them and taking their recommendations, really helped establish what Charleston is all about – and I love the city all the more for them having shared that with me!

4 This trip has been a revelation of what a simple idea can create. Starting my journey, I had all the charities pre-scheduled and talked with each coordinator beforehand, but still I had no clue how being a Travelteer would pan out. I am so happy to type that not only did all of the organizations love the idea of Travelteer; they wanted to encourage others to come to their city and give back in the same way! Whether it was setting up a Water Mission’s walk for 5,000 people, installing mats for horse stables at LEAP, or working at food banks and kitchens at Low Country Food Bank and One-Eighty Place – every organization expressed a need for volunteers and welcomed any future Travelteers! As for impact – just whoa! Every place I went it was clear that each individual volunteer counted and made a difference in the day-to-day operations. With a passionate heart for humanitarianism at the center, it seems a Travelteer’s impact has no limits.

5 Coming out of Charleston I want to thank all the non-profits who have let us share our idea with them. Being apart of their mission and hearing their stories has made me more confident than ever that Travelteer can not only make a difference in cities across North America, but also be welcomed by organizations comprised of positive, like-minded individuals who help shape the culture and community of their city. I am currently on my way to Fort Lauderdale and am eager to see what is next in line for my life as a Travelteer. From Charleston on out, I cannot begin to express my anticipation for each individual person, organization, locale, or experience that waits in Florida. Any experience may offer a further impact on myself and Travelteer, and more importantly, an opportunity for Travelteer to make an impact on them.