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Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Patti's Passion

We are thrilled that our friends at Volunteer Global are compiling a book of volunteer travel stories. Our founder and president, Patti, wanted to share her story with them - and we want to share it with you! If you've ever wondered what you can do when you grow up and/or retire, you'll discover that the possibilities are endless.

Some people retire. They sleep in, play bridge and golf, knit, run some errands.

I am not one of them.

A year after my attempt at retiring, I was so shocked at the devastation from Hurricane Katrina that I organized a trip for my Chicago suburban synagogue to volunteer in New Orleans. Even 18 months after the storm, the destruction was heartbreaking. Thousands of homes were completely destroyed, and thousands more had to be completely gutted before they were deemed safe. We even had to wear HAZMAT suits.

I couldn’t just stay retired and do nothing. After word of our inspiring trip had spread to other local religious organizations – and I was asked to plan trips for them – I knew I had discovered my new lifework. I founded Volunteer Expeditions and now plan trips for religious, school and family groups from all over the country to help rebuild New Orleans. My organization has even expanded to offer trips for groups to tutor children in Jamaica and to help the homeless and hungry in Chicago and Washington, DC.

Patti jamming in New Orleans with some new friends
I am truly awed each and every day by the spirit, the determination, and the unwavering support of the volunteers I meet. Their work, their time and their money have genuinely made a difference to the people of New Orleans. I have had the pleasure of watching this city rebuild itself. In just a few short years, it has gone from a city destroyed with no green spaces to a vibrant place with new homes, businesses and parks. It still has a ways to go, but it is headed in the right direction.

Even though I have retired from the normal workforce, I'm spending my full time doing what I love best. And that's bringing volunteers to do worthwhile work that makes a difference in their lives and in the lives of the people they touch.

Do you know someone retired who is following their passion? Tell us in the comment section!


  1. I was able to experience one of the best travel experiences when I went to the Philippines with a couple of travel companions to volunteer for a medical mission. We are all majoring in the medical field, so we decided that it was wise to help others and our career experience by volunteering. It is great to read that there are others out there that enjoy helping others.

    1. Wow, what a cool experience! Thanks for sharing, Giana - we love hearing about other fellow volunteer travelers. What did you do in the Philippines with your training?

    2. Sorry for the late response. We just distributed over the counter medication to some of the people there.

    3. No problem. That's wonderful, so glad to hear it!