Professionally I started in the academic world, working to open and build Master’s degree programs on bases in San Diego, and civilian sites in the Bay Area, CA. I then moved to PR work, structuring community events in Coronado, CA, and providing health care education for both patients and clinicians. Next, I worked as a writer & promoter in the Marketing divisions of various real estate firms in the Seattle area. My career in recruiting followed, I had my own company, as a consultant/contractor for 25 years with clients across the globe, including many of the top Forbes 100 companies I have been with Amazon for the last 4 years, as a Sr Lead Tech Recruiter in support of their Mechatronics/Robotics division.
- Active member of the Butterfly Effect, a group of approx 400 women in the Kirkland, WA area, we research and promote 2 different local charities per month, share time, talent and/or money as required, and get matching funds from Microsoft. Our hands-on projects include warm winter clothes for the homeless, a huge Christmas party incl. Santa for families in transition care facilities, music on Valentine’s Day for the elderly in state-subsidized care facilities, book/backpack/school supply donations for children w/challenging health issues, donations and resource support onsite for therapeutic horse programs, etc.
- Served as mentor for the Wheel Project, to address recidivism issues for former inmates working to create successful lives outside prison. A 12-month program, with 12 volunteers focusing on the needs of a single ex-convict.
- On the board for St. John’s Episcopal church (Kirkland WA) through which we host a monthly dinner for the homeless. We started about 16 months ago, serving about 20 people, and now feed upwards of 200 every month. Our dinners focus on the dignity and community needs of attendees, we create an upscale, abundant setting which lifts their spirits. We hire chefs, have tablecloths, candles, decorations, real silverware, piano music…we sit with the attendees in community, allow them to serve themselves, make sure they have boxes to take food with them when they leave, have support organizations on site for information, gather clothing, shoes, toiletries and other supplies every month which are shared with the homeless. Our meal is held on the east side of the lake, which has very few resources for the homeless. We’ve found that there are many fringe members of society (elderly on a pension, single parents scraping by), who also benefit from these dinners.
- Worked as part of the onsite support team for prison ministry through KAIROS, a 30,000 volunteer operation. The site was the Purdy Corrections Center for Women, a prison facility in Gig Harbor, WA. Involvement included full meals for 4 days for attendees, homemade snacks for all inmates at the facility, community dining, structured talks, meditations, individual and group activities, and music. (I am a singer)
- Participate in the night crew for the Union Gospel Mission, which provides hot meals, bedding, and clothing to the homeless on the streets of Seattle. Literally, crouching behind dumpsters, walking onto freeway greenbelts, etc. to access those in need. The night I went the temperatures were below freezing. Supplies and food are donated.
I met the Founder at a social event and learned ‘Stu’ had been paying out-of-pocket for 9 years to support orphanages in 3rd world countries. His enthusiasm is contagious, and many people wanted to donate to the cause, but as he lacked charity standing, could not accept their funds. I did the legal paperwork to create a 501(c)3 for him/DreamMissions. Since then I have been on international missions, have been on the board since its inception, and provide promo and fundraising support here in the States. DreamMissions is a non-profit, secular charity, not affiliated with any church or religious order, but we work in tandem with whatever other charities or organizations are active in support of orphanages onsite (ex: Rotary, Catholic Church), and with for-profit (ex: Costco) and government (ex: US Navy) organizations as needs arise.
We work with registered, non-profit charity organizations globally to provide support, resources, and funding to orphans and children in need. The inspiration came from the founder, Dr. Jeff ‘Stu’ Stewart, who had seen the need during outreach programs to provide dental care to children of poverty, and orphans. We partner with local or global organizations to meet diverse needs and address everything from medical and dental care to clothing, facility maintenance, education, appliances, school supplies, etc. Most importantly, we engage with the children through volunteer care, generally through teams of 50-100 who interact appropriately with the children 1:1 in fully supervised settings (facility care, pool parties, meal provision, classrooms, social events, day-to-day care, etc).
Initially, this was a one-man show, through Dr. Stewart. After I helped to create the 501(c)3, it blossomed to include a board of directors, volunteers from all over the U.S., and access for provision of services to children on 5 continents. The mission has been the same, ‘Paving Roads to our world’s forgotten children’… to love and care for these children onsite, to spread the word and create volunteer opportunities for others, to meet varying needs per site. From Facebook’s ‘about’ section: Travelers and volunteers/voluntours can follow those “roads” back to those children again and again, safely and efficiently. Not your entire vacation unless you want it to be. It will be the “best part”, “awesome and amazing”, and you will want to “come back”. It is “Time For the Children”… ;)
Promotion, Centralizing Resources, Unifying Support Organizations I am in conversation with local, regional, national and international support personnel weekly. Interactions include the gathering of resources, contacts, and information to facilitate the needs of various orphanages globally. (Ex: Military leaders who can gain access to security and provide transportation, businesses who donate money or supplies, individuals interested in voluntourism, etc.)
Overcoming fear. Many travelers are reluctant to engage with ‘the locals’. Others fear travel to 3rd world countries. Resolution – Truth is, once a traveler has experienced first-hand the joy and rewards of helping those in such dire need, they spread the word for us. It is a life-changing moment for most.
Imagine a group of over 100 tourists heading to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico on vacation…. They were prepared to sit in the sunshine, frolic in the pool, zip line, swim with the dolphins and enjoy a few drinks. But, what they were not prepared for was an experience that changed their lives (watch below)!
The truth about American travelers…many are hedonists…seeking comfort above all. One way to engage with this group is to ensure the initial stages of voluntourism include access to top-rated resorts, where this type of traveler can ease into the country and culture prior to volunteering.
The power of social media. During an online request for supplies (hats & gloves), in which we did NOT ask for money – the response was immediate, huge and effective. People sent money anyway. The trust they had in me, and in the organization, was apparent. The request far surpassed what was expected, and our ability to provide for others was greatly enhanced. The truth about American travelers…many are hedonists…seeking comfort above all. One way to engage with this group is to ensure the initial stages of voluntourism include access to top-rated resorts, where this type of traveler can ease into the country and culture prior to volunteering. Others, of course, are brave enough to start their support and provision efforts right away. We are happy to receive the time, talent and donations from both groups and strive to provide meaningful travel while ensuring mission-critical care is given to those in need. How we are different: unlike many other charitable groups, not a single dollar is spent on the organization itself. All travel, administration, promotion, and support are donated. 100% of the money given to DreamMission goes to the children.
Phenomenal outcomes include school support for children globally, protection for young children from the international sex trade, resources, and supplies to support day-to-day living, creating access to water, shelter, food, and 1:1 care during onsite time, which can be the most valuable things of all. Our members, some of whom never traveled outside of the U.S., have become passionate in their support of the needs of others.
Speaking for myself: I braved a skeleton boat through crocodile-infested mangrove swamps to reach one orphanage, was privileged to work with local translators and government representatives at another, witnessed the transformation of a little boy’s initial terror of water to playful ease once a caring adult worked with him over time, delivered a malnourished, abandoned child to the safety and care of an orphanage in the hills of Mexico, etc.
If there is one element which stands out above others, the simple choice to ACT, to engage in caring for those less fortunate, is so important and transformative…in the end, we get more in terms of benefits and rewards than we ever imagined.
- Log onto our Official Facebook Page to track ongoing voluntour events (travel & outreach opportunities).
- Connect with me directly HERE.
And of course we welcome all Donations, emphasizing that unlike many nonprofits, every dollar donated (100%) goes directly to impact lives of children around the world, and help ensure they each receive the love and necessities they deserve and need.