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Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The Power of Light

Photo Credit: Scazon on Flickr
 In this holiday season, light is key. Hanukkah is known as the Festival of Lights, Christmas trees are lit, and fireplaces spring to life. But there's one more source of light that you should never forget - yourself.

Just by being yourself and spreading good cheer, you contribute your light to the lives of others. Don't forget it - you may never know just how much your light is needed by others. Think about what Albert Schweitzer said:

"At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us." (Brainy Quotes)

Photo Credit: Allison Bernstein
We can all think of times when our light has gone out. Times of sorrow, times of despair, and times of loss have affected everyone. What truly brings us back from the dark is the light of another. Think of the people in your life who have been your light in the darkness. Reach out and thank them this holiday season. It's truly a blessing to have light in your life.

Volunteer Expeditions is proud to have volunteers that are full of light. Through their hard work, many New Orleans residents have rekindled their own flame. Thank you, volunteers, for everything you do. May your holiday season be full of health, happiness, and - of course - light.

Who has been your light in the darkness?

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

A Testimonial to Remember

There are so many pieces to the Volunteer Expeditions puzzle that are necessary for our continued survival. We need donations, word-of-mouth marketing, the hardworking staff, and our computers...

...But most important of all is you, our volunteers. We certainly can't take groups of no one to New Orleans or Jamaica. But each and every volunteer that has traveled with us is truly a gift. Their dedication, perseverance, and upbeat attitudes inspire us.

That's why we get so excited when we hear positive feedback from our volunteers about their trips. We just got a new recommendation on GuideStar from a volunteer who went on our very first trip, Gail G. Here's what she says:

"Eighteen months post-Katrina, I was privileged to be part of Volunteer Expedition's first trip to NOLA. The ability to reach out and embrace a city that was showing such resilience had a profound and long-lasting effect on me. Through the compassion, commitment, and leadership of Patti Vile and Volunteer Expeditions, what began as a simple trip became a vision for change and one of the most powerful experiences of my life. Patti Vile has gone on to create an environment for learning, growing, and building that is my pleasure to recommend to others looking to make a difference."

Gail, a volunteer and educator, was so inspired by her trip that she just couldn't leave! She stayed in New Orleans for three years and taught special education in a grade school while helping the local community. We salute Gail for her commitment and ability to help others!

 From then till now: our most recent participants follow in Gail's footsteps
while painting a house for a New Orleans homeowner.

Want to be featured in our blog? Write us a recommendation on GuideStar, LinkedIn, or Facebook! We're also open to any kind of feedback--tell us what you would like to see more of by emailing Patti at patti@volunteerexpeditions.org!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

You can help us for free!

'Tis the season, but the season for what? Getting rid of your money? Most of the time, the coming month means a draining bank account. While of course we here at Volunteer Expeditions always appreciate a donation (you can do so here or through Facebook Causes here), there are tons of incredibly simple ways you can help us out without spending a penny. Check out these completely free ways you can help Volunteer Expeditions:

Spread the word!
  • Did you join us with a school group, but you think your religious group might benefit from a trip? Have you heard about us and want to take a trip with your coworkers? Let them (and us) know! Personal recommendations mean the most.
  • Help other people donate! If your office is holding a donation drive, suggest us as the recipient! If a friend wants to make a donation in your name as a holiday present, we'd be honored if you think of us!
  • Stay in touch! Listed below are the many places you can join our network. Whatever networking site you use the most, we'll be there. We post interesting articles, deep thoughts, inspiring quotes, and fun questions - no spam or anything like that. Plus, when you like or follow something, the social networking site itself tells your friends and followers about us. It's simple! We love interacting with our followers, both online and in person. You can also join our email list by letting us know you'd like in.

On Facebook:
  • Like our page (facebook.com/vexpeditions). Pretty easy, right? Not only will you be able to see what kinds of things we're doing and what we find interesting, but your friends will see on your profile that you like such an awesome page.
  • Talk to us! Write on our wall or tag us with your thoughts. Had a great trip? Want to see something else? Have a suggestion for us? Even just want to tell us how your day was? We'd love to hear! Stay in touch with us; we genuinely appreciate all of our volunteers and potential trip-takers.
  • Join our Facebook Cause (click here). This is another great way to increase our visibility. PLUS you can watch the Take-A-Minute video and, just by donating 30 seconds of your time, we'll get ten cents! That can add up quickly.

On Twitter:
  • Follow us (twitter.com/vexpeditions). It's another way to stay in touch!
  • Tag us (@vexpeditions)! We want to know what's going on with you and what you think.

On LinkedIn:
  • Follow us (linkedin.com/company/volunteer-expeditions). If LinkedIn is easier for you to use, we're here too!
  • You can now add Sections to your profile, and one of these is "Volunteer Experience and Causes." If you add this and list Volunteer Expeditions, not only do we become more visible, but you look pretty darn good yourself.

On Google+:
  • Add us to your circles! This is a fun, fast-growing website, and we want to be part of it with you.
  • Comment!  Please, tell us what you think about anything we do or post.

On the blog:
  • Read often! While we stay in touch with short messages over email and social media, here we can expand and really talk about things that matter. The blog provides information and insight you won't get from any of our other sites. You're already here, but please come back regularly or even subscribe!
  • Tell us what you think! We would love to read your comments. If a post interests you or you have a similar story or you want to give us some feedback, please do let us know.
  • Use your own blog! Tell the world about Volunteer Expeditions and what you did or want to do with us. You probably have more personal connections on your blog than we do--spreading the word that way helps multiply our reach leaps and bounds!

Last but certainly not least, Use your skills! Are you a PR wizard? Can you balance books at the speed of light? We're always looking for volunteers to help us with the day-to-day bits of running our organization! The needs may vary, but help is always appreciated.

Truly, thank you for being interested in Volunteer Expeditions. Any level of help is an incredibly kind gesture. Everyone gets inundated with requests this time of year, so we know how overwhelming things get. Choosing to spend any amount of your time on us is a gesture we genuinely appreciate. Stay in touch, and happy Thanksgiving! Have any fun plans you'd like to share?

One of our recent groups completed some New Orleans field work in style!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Volunteer Expeditions trip this weekend!

We here at Volunteer Expeditions are getting excited--we have a group going to New Orleans this weekend! This time, we're bringing 23 intrepid students and their chaperones from beautiful Scarsdale, New York. Want to know what's on the agenda for this trip? They will be...
And more, all in just four days! This list doesn't even include the delicious meals they'll enjoy or the fun they'll have just by spending time together. We're so excited to take this group, as we are with all of our groups. We always enjoy planning for our volunteer service trips. But seeing them happen and watching the amazing things our volunteers do is genuinely inspiring.

 A group Volunteer Expeditions took to New Orleans in 2009. What a beautiful day and a happy bunch!

Want to join us? Gather a group of your very own and take advantage of our planning experience! You can do everything in this current trip, or pick and choose what you'd like to take part in. This is also certainly not the extent of what we offer, so if you're interested in more, we're happy to help. Contact Patti at patti@volunteerexpeditions.org for more information or to start building your trip!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Featured Partners: Lower 9th Ward Center for Sustainable Engagement and Development

For the past three years, Volunteer Expeditions has been working with a remarkable woman, Warrenetta Banks, and her organization, the Lower 9th Ward Center for Sustainable Engagement and Development. She's a woman with a great heart and spirit who becomes a lifelong friend of all the volunteers. We are so proud to know Warrenetta and be able to assist her in her efforts.

As a part of the Lower 9th Ward, which was one of the areas hit the hardest by Hurricane Katrina, the CSED has made it their mission to stimulate local engagement while preserving resources in the area. Volunteer Expeditions takes part in their efforts by working directly with families to rebuild their homes.

"The joy of it is we get to know the citizens who are trying to rebuild their lives in New Orleans," says our founder and President Patti. And we know that Warrenetta has made this possible for us with a smile and a hug.

According to their Facebook page, "CSED's goal is re-creation and re-population of a strong community mindful of its history, resources and vulnerabilities as active, engaged, resilient, prosperous, energy independent and beautiful as possible." And with people like Warrenetta in charge and volunteers aplenty like the ones that contact us, this sounds very achievable.

 Warrenetta and some amazing volunteers

For more info about the neighborhood, check out:


To follow the CSED, find them on:
Facebook: www.facebook.com/sustainthenine
Twitter: www.twitter.com/sustainthenine

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Inspring Poetry: "One"

Have you been feeling overwhelmed by how much needs to get done? It's certainly easy to want to shut it all out...after all, what difference can one person make?

According to this inspiring poem, all the difference in the world.

"One" - Unknown
One song can spark a moment
One flower can wake the dream
One tree can start a forest
One bird can herald spring
One smile begins a friendship
One handclasp lifts a soul
One star can guide a ship at sea
One word can frame the goal
One vote can change a nation
One sunbeam lights a room
One candle wipes out darkness
One laugh will conquer gloom
One step must start each journey
One word must start a prayer
One hope will raise our spirits
One touch can show you care
One voice can speak with wisdom
One heart can know what's true
One life can make a difference
That difference starts with you.

This beautiful poem is so true. It's easy to forget how even the simplest motion, action, or phrase can pave the path for change. But the power of one is undeniable. Take Volunteer Expeditions, for example. All of the good that has been accomplished, all the help delivered, all the lives changed...it all started with our founder and President, Patti. Everything she accomplished certainly wasn't by herself--every group of volunteers that have gone with her have done their fair share of the work!--but Volunteer Expeditions literally would not exist without Patti. Her vision has brought so many volunteers to New Orleans and it's truly inspiring. Your step towards making a difference can start small, but its effects be enormous. And there are countless other ways you can help.

Leave us a comment--what one step did you take to make a difference? What one sentence changed your life or the lives of others?

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Group Travel Is In

Group travel is changing! Most thoughts about group travel are of little old ladies with enormous cameras on a bus or senior couples. But younger and smaller groups are becoming ever more popular.

Check out the full story here:
Smaller Tour Groups Mean Bigger Opportunities for Agents by Nick Verrastro

Of course, you certainly don't have to be a travel agent to appreciate the opportunities! If you're in a school, company, religious organization, or a large family, you're already a member of a group. Taking a trip with a bunch of people you already know is a fun way to connect to each other and to the new location. Many good things can come from this boost in popularity.

And we are so excited that this boost includes volunteer travel! In particular, we're seeing a great increase in the numbers of teenage group travel. We here at Volunteer Expeditions love that. It means more and more young people understand social responsibility in this world. Everyone can make a difference, but few choose to act on that ability. Seeing others take time to benefit complete strangers through volunteering in a new place is wonderful. And seeing teenagers take this big step? It's absolutely inspiring.

This tour group is from Oklahoma City, OK - and look at the age range! Well done indeed.