This month, we have a guest post from Paige Cortes of the blog Peacin’ Out, in which she describes her family’s adventures traveling across the country volunteering together along the way. You can find the original post from October 26th, 2016 here.
While in Austin we decided we needed something more. I’m sure it sounds silly to most. We felt like our children weren’t being grateful and neither were we. We’d been too wrapped up in the hardships of homeschool and getting acclimated. We needed to spend time being grateful, really consciously thinking about it.
We both know that we are truly lucky to be able to make this big adventure happen. We’ve explained it countless times to the kids, too. It just isn’t sinking in: for us or them. We are still way too focused on the hardships. Edson and I both agreed that we needed to do something about it. We want to be sure we all get the most out of this adventure. We started talking about volunteering. It might just be what we all need to get a new sense of life and appreciation. We also know that everywhere we go we will be learning and taking so much from that place. But what about the local community? How can we give back? We will be getting a lot out of each place we go so it’s only fair that we do something for the community in return.
Here’s the idea: The Giving Tour. Every place we spend more than a week we do at least one thing to help the community. Our first stay for more than a week was our visit to Austin. We were able to get this idea started there and it was a great experience for all of us. We found an organization that I absolutely adore. It’s called Little Helping Hands, based in Austin, TX. The premise behind it is promoting family volunteerism, allowing little ones to get involved and start their love of helping others from a very young age. Their vision is to develop children into community-minded leaders and citizens. We signed up to help at Caritas, a homeless shelter in downtown Austin. There were 4 families there and each family made a large tray of macaroni and cheese, cut up a ton of fruit for a big salad and cookies for dessert. The organizer made sure to let us know that each tray would feed about 25 people. She also let us know that hundreds of people come through those doors Monday-Friday for meals, That meant that what we made would only be a portion of one of the meals they serve to those in need. WOW! – they need a lot of help. Big bonus: we got to rock some kick ass hair nets.
We are on a road towards a greater appreciation for the things we’ve been fortunate enough to do in this life. The Giving Tour means so much to me and I really hope it turns into something. I have always wanted to instill compassion and a strong desire to help and care for others in my children. I’m pretty sure we all want that. We all want to teach our children to be grateful for what they have. I mean who wants a spoiled brat? Ummm… No one I know.
Little Helping Hands was an incredible organization and I would love to replicate it everywhere across the country. I’ve always looked for ways for our family to get involved. Believe it or not it’s not always easy with a family with young kids. Organizations, in my experience at least, prefer to have older kids and adults to help and not deal with the little ones running rampant. I can’t say I blame them. Even when looking for a place to volunteer in Austin I emailed and called at least 10 places. Little Helping Hands was the only place to even get back to me and honestly gave us a ton of things we could do with our young family. They’ve really got things down to a science.
I have big dreams for what we lovingly call The Giving Tour. Honestly, I always have big dreams and ideas for everything– its whether or not I figure out how to make it work is another thing. The goal is for my family to really make a difference in the communities we spend a significant amount of time in. Considering we are slowing down that will hopefully happen more often now (although I’m having a hard time grasping the idea of ‘slowing down’). It’s a mutually beneficial relationship. The community takes us in for some time, we learn new things, see new places and then we help by giving back– it’s simple really.
The larger idea comes when I think this could turn into something incredible for high school kids. I think 10th-12th graders would be ideal. We could start The Giving Tour with those kids and we would travel around the country, they give back, and see new places (all in an RV). And no, I’m not talking about our family of 5 traveling with the these high school kids but an educator or someone in a leadership role. Obviously, a year trip would be a bit out of the question, but a few weeks to a month would be do-able doing a region at a time. We could work with local organizations and really get something amazing things to happen. This country has so much for kids to experience and so many ways to get involved. I am confident it would be life changing. I remember going to South Africa when I was in high school and the experiences I had helped shaped who I am today. That is, a traveling blogger with hopes to create something big for my family and others; instilling a sense of appreciation, adventure and compassion. Big goals. Must. Take. One. Step. At A Time.
Have ideas on how we can get The Giving Tour started with high school kids in your area? Know of a few great organizations we could work with? We are staying in Santa Fe for a month and it’s our first lengthy stay so we are busy looking for volunteer opportunities. We will be sure to post more and we will be adding a new menu option in the coming weeks so we can feature some of the organizations we work with while on this journey.
Cheers to living a grateful life!