And here are 20 from Matador members who are experienced volunteers.
1. Lola Akinmade, Matador Goods Editor
“I volunteer because ‘to whom much is given, of him shall much be required.’ — Luke 12:48. I honestly don’t know how to live outside of giving and sharing, and wouldn’t want to.”
Lola volunteers as a photojournalist with both World Hope International, documenting the organization’s projects in countries such as Nicaragua and Cambodia, and C.H.I.E.F, an NGO based in Lagos, Nigeria that promotes grassroots health development, HIV/AIDS awareness, and the empowerment of women.
Her church in Stockholm recently started a monthly food kitchen for the city’s homeless, and she hopes to work a lot more with them as well.
2. Richard Stupart, Matador Intern
“I volunteer because I find something incredibly satisfying about acting in a way that is consistent with my principles. Being able to say I changed something in the world, in the lives of others, gives meaning to my being here beyond simply looking after myself. For me, it changes my life from being purely self-centered to being something with meaning for others, too.”
Richard volunteered for South African Schools Debating, where he coached school kids and taught them critical thinking, working through issues in their communities, and learning to express their own opinions articulately on issues that concern them.
3. Leigh Shulman, Matador Life Editor
“I volunteer because it takes me out of my daily life. Because I have expertise that is easy for me to teach and yet makes a big difference to those I teach. Because it reminds me how lucky I am. Because I have been given so much in life and believe it’s important to give as well.”
4. Juliane Huang, Matador contributing editor
“I volunteer because it continuously teaches me something new about people, about cooperation, about compassion, and about myself. In helping others, I am reminded that we are all in this together and we need to remember to support each other. Life has so much to offer if we remember look beyond ourselves.”
5. Candice Walsh, Matador Associate Editor
“I volunteer because I love my city and I need to give back something to it other than tax dollars. Also, my soul needs redemption.”
Candice volunteers with Girl Guides of Canada and Heavenly Creatures, an animal rescue organization.
6. Abbie Mood, Matador Intern
“I volunteer because I want to not just see the world, but make a difference in it.”
6. Kate Sedgwick, Matador Nights Co-Editor
“I volunteer because I have the time. I recognize that time is something I can give, if not money. I regret that I never volunteered before I left the U.S. I don’t know that I make a big difference in the lives of the kids that I work with, but I do know that I can take some pressure off of those that are able to devote more time. Sometimes that’s just got to be enough.”
7. Matt Scott, Matador Intern
“I volunteer because… it often lets me get closer to a community, the people and the region- I discover so much more than simply having travelled through. Also, on the most basic level, it’s nice to feel I’ve achieved something positive with my day- rather than simply add to the profits of the Fat Cats I usually work for.”
8. Heather Knight, Member
“I volunteer because: 1) I truly like helping people. 2) I feel called to volunteer and share my talents and time with others. 3) I enjoy meeting different people from different backgrounds and cultures while volunteering. 4) I like having my comfort zone stretched and expanded. 5) It’s a lot of fun!
9. Pamm McFadden, Member
“I volunteer to learn something new or to acquire a skill that I lacked. I couldn’t go out and get a job to learn that skill, but I could volunteer and learn it.”
Pamm has volunteered in a hospital, for the local Department of Social Services, for local, national and international solar organizations, the local District Attorney’s office as an investigator, a conference organizer, and a knitter – knitting sweaters for every child in an orphanage outside of Lhasa, Tibet.
10. Nola Lee Kelsey, Member
“I volunteer because I can’t handle seeing any animal suffering as if no one cares and because it makes me feel alive.”
11. Barb Hautanen, Member
“I volunteer because I want to demonstrate to individuals around the world that someone from ‘way over there’ does care about them, that all Americans are not like those seen on TV or at their country’s tourist destinations. Now, when I hear about about war, political situations, natural disasters, crime, and more in foreign countries, I can picture faces and remember names of people living in those countries.”
Barb has volunteered with Tasikoki Wildlife Rescue Center in Sulawesi, Indonesia and African Impact.
12. Hal Amen, Matador Trips Co-Editor
“I volunteer because I’ve seen firsthand people living in plywood shacks in Vietnam, the Philippines, Mexico, Bolivia and people playing golf on a Tuesday at a Beverly Hills Country Club, the only difference between them being where they were born. The system obviously doesn’t work, so we have to.”
13. Susan Greenwood, Matador writer
“I volunteer because I feel it is part of being a human being. I think we are designed to help one another. Help comes in many forms, and I believe that volunteering is one way to accomplish what we are supposed to accomplish in this lifetime. Bottom line, it just feels good inside to give unconditionally.”
14. Jamie L. Worms, Member
“I volunteer not so much to help others, but to gain some perspective about my own life. But in the end, I suppose I accomplish both.”
Jamie has volunteered with Catalytic Communities, CIACAC, and Calle.
15. Kelsey Gryniewicz, Member
“I volunteer because I can. It’s as simple as that. If you could do something to help the world around you, why wouldn’t you?”
16. Sheethal Shobowale, Member
“I volunteer because I enjoy helping people. Besides, it is professionally and personally fulfilling and great karma!”
17. Melanie Campbell, Member
“I volunteer for experience to put on my resume.”
Melanie has volunteered at St. Paul’s College, a school for children and teens with disabilties, and at a primary school working with refugee children.
18. Jane Stanfield, Member
“I volunteer because I always want to learn something new.”
19. Kirsty Henderson, Member
“I volunteer because it lets me get involved in a community in a way I would never get to if I were just passing through as a traveler. It also keeps me fit and allows me to save money. Volunteering for weeks or months at a time could allow you to live more cheaply than you would at home.”
20. Julie Schwietert, Matador’s Managing Editor
“I volunteer because I need to feel I can take meaningful action. Until the election of President Obama, I felt like the traditional ways for people to be involved in resolving social problems had been usurped. Volunteering was one way to still make a difference and will always remain one way to exercise your rights, responsibilities, and power.”
If you’d like to get started volunteering, but aren’t quite sure how, our Volunteering Abroad Focus Page offers lots of useful resources.
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Julie Schwietert Collazo is a writer, editor, researcher, and translator currently in New York, formerly of Mexico City and San Juan.
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