Sun and Fun With a Volunteering Twist

Zip-lining through a cloud forest. Yoga in a butterfly sanctuary. Local, freshly ground coffee strained through a burlap filter. What’s not to love about a weeklong vacation in Costa Rica? As Roberta Lang, 59, and Monica Bolin, 54, sorted through their options, the friends from Red Deer, Alberta, Canada, found a vacation package that included a service project at a Cost Rican elementary school. Bolin was hooked. She liked the idea of interacting with kids again and seeing a non-tourist …

Resale Store Volunteering: Great Fun, Great Causes

When Joan and John Vatterott retired to Naples, Fla., nearly 10 years ago, they volunteered with the Guadalupe Center, a nonprofit that supports 1,100 children in the nearby town of Immokalee, a low-income community with one of the largest populations of crop pickers in the country. The Vatterotts started English-speaking classes for the workers, who are mostly Hispanic, Haitian and Mayan Indian. John also helped start the Tutor Corps program, which pairs high school students with mentors and pays them to tutor …

A Warm Atmosphere at a Hypothermia Shelter

Soft, melodic piano chords fill the sanctuary of the Church of St. Clement in Alexandria, Va., early one morning. I get up from my cot to investigate. A man is thoughtfully creating music on the church piano. He pauses between chords, listening, thinking. “That’s beautiful,” I tell him. “You must be a professional.” Yes, he was, the former hip-hop musician tells me. He continues, speaking softly, gesturing with his hands. “Creating music is like building with Legos. It’s all about building …

How to Find Reward by Working With Those in Need

As Maureen McCarty and I meet with Maria (not her real name), I realize the compounded struggles of the poor. Maria’s English speaking and comprehension are limited. She and her husband are separated. Her son’s health issues complicate her search for work. And at this moment, with area rents topping $1,000 a month, even for a small apartment, Maria needs rent assistance. Can we help her? Each Wednesday morning, McCarty and other finance counselors who volunteer with a Christ Church’s …

Reimagine Your Life Through Quiet Time

Here we are again: the hustle and bustle, the family, the parties — and for many, there’s the added stress, pressures and the noises of life. Well, we can also make this a time for refreshing, renewing and reimagining our lives for the future. As the holiday season is in full swing and we approach a new year, I recently had a great Black Community Book Club conversation with music mogul, entrepreneur, philanthropist and best-selling author Russell Simmons about his new …

Helping the Disabled, One Invention at a Time

In this season of thanks and giving, Bill Deimling of Cincinnati considers himself one of the lucky ones. That’s because he gets to give more than he receives. Deimling, 72, is a cofounder of May We Help, a Cincinnati-based volunteer organization that creates custom-designed devices to help people with disabilities live more independently. The Army veteran and retired mold maker is clear about the group’s mission: “We don’t do home improvements — anybody can do that. And we don’t make …