Carolina: Cruising Past 70: WOW: Giving Back

Monday, January 30, 2012

WOW: Giving Back

Bill discussing with the volunteers of a Habitat project in an ongoing build site in Ocala, Florida
We have been so fortunate. We are able to retire in relative comfort, our children are all doing very well, and the only thing we need to do is travel and be happy. The universe has conspired to provide us everything we needed as we were struggling to build our families and a life of our own: opportunities, resources, money, people, health, talents, and more. Now it is truly time to give back. This is our fourth resolution.

In the past I devoted my payback efforts towards helping my third world home country. The Philippines has, besides giving me birth, provided me with plenty of opportunities to excel. I also used to think being part of the Philippine Institute for the Deaf, the non-profit school teaching the deaf to speak founded by my mother and sister would be enough. But the school is in good hands now and doing well.

Then Bill and April, my youngest daughter, participated in Seven Fund's competition for projects that would increase livelihood for the Philippines. Bill entered GEM, Go and Experience Manila, a proposal to build a powerful tourism website, and April entered PinoySEEDE, Source for Executives and Educators for the Development of Entrepreneurs in the Philippines. Unfortunately both lost since the contest was primarily looking for livelihood projects.

Bill’s DU friend, Doug Miller, is founder of the EVPA, European Venture Philanthropy Association, and is now Chair of AVPN, the Asia Venture Philanthropy Network. Bill is helping him evaluate BKP, a non-profit setting up small libraries in the Philippines. Perhaps even without winning a grant or utilizing this connection, Bill and I can found a simple nonprofit that will provide a college scholarship grant to an indigent gifted student to help her bring her family out of poverty, much as my mother and I were helped.

But I should really get involved with social problems here in the US, too! We have been thinking about what we can do within our chosen cruising lifestyle. It has to be a cause that does not tie us to a particular place but also gives us the chance to impact the lives of not just a few!  One idea was given to us by Father Jack, Bill's friend and pastor in the West SEattle parish: 1) the study of best Catholic parish practices in reaching out to its community. I have also read about Learning Camps on Wheels. We can also turn our RV into a Soup Kitchen on wheels!

When we were in Americus, Georgia, visitiing the International Headquarters of Habitat for Humanity, (please see, we found out that there is a group called Care-a-Vanners for RV travel with a purpose. We simply have to schedule our volunteer time at a build site in a preferred state. Volunteers park their RVs for a week or two and help build new homes. An ongoing schedule of build sites can be found in .

We visited the nearest Habitat build site to our campground, the Ocala Ongoing Build Site. This is an experimental project, helping a low-income mom with a handicapped child rebuild her home. She gave the last of her savings to an unscrupulous contractor tor who was supposed to do all the repairs (her roof had caved in). But he ran away with all of her money without completing anything. The city government gave a small grant to Habitat which, in turn, provided the volunteers to work on her home.

As in every major decision we make, we built decision matrices for these options. We came up with the following criteria to include in our analysis:  required skills, passion for the activity, ease of approach to a community, immediate need, and future impact. We have completed the matrices and the result surprised us…the simpler, the better. So, for the payback in the US, volunteering our efforts to Habitat bested the other two ideas. And for help for the Philippines, a simple scholarship fund would be the best!. 

Thus even without a grant or connection, we may be able to start giving back. Not that we have not been doing tha but this time, it will be a collaboration between Bill and me. Then giving back should be doubly  rewarding!