How an RV Trip Across the Country Changed My Life
"Today I met a woman who affected me more in the few hours we spent with her than anyone I have ever encountered. Her name was Lucille. She is 92 years old and more deserving of the good things in life than I ever willbe. She has one light bulb in her house, a house supported by cinder blocks, but mostly held up by memories and angels; a house not nearly large enough to encompass the faith in humanity and hope in the world that Lucille fills it with. Our goal was to fix Lucille’s pipes and give her running water. We failed. But we did replace the lightbulbs. What a small change - unless you ask Lucille. I am thankful for this amazing woman’s spirit, for the stories she told me and for all she taught me today. I will forever be changed by knowing her... This is proving to be a far more meaningful trip than I ever imagined."
Anna K. - June 17th, 2010
Seven years ago I packed my bags and took a leap of faith, straight into an RV with 9 strangers to travel and volunteer. Maybe I was a naive soon to be college graduate looking for adventure. Or maybe I was subconsciously solidifying my future. The experience changed my life. I always assumed volunteering was only about giving back and what you can do for others - a jam I was definitely into but not necessarily seeing how it could benefit me. Then Lucille came along and slapped some peanut butter onto that feel good sandwich and boom I was hooked.
Here’s the skinny on doing good: Immersing yourself in volunteer experiences ignites a wheel of momentum that just keeps giving, to others and to YOU!
And here’s where that wheel went for me:
Training wheels off, I hopped out of my comfort zone and into that RV. One year later, still riding the adventure wave, I slid a little further out of my bubble and made a big move to NYC. A year after that I landed a sweet gig, at a non-profit - after impressing the big wigs during an interview with my heart warming tales of risk taking and volunteering during a crazy travel excursion. Now happily employed, I slowly but surely earned my street cred in the concrete jungle.
Then one fine day I got a call from friends, who said we’re coming to the city, let’s find something cool to do. Maybe my definition of cool is a little skewed but there were definitely no statue of liberty tours or times square photo ops on the agenda. Instead, we helped create a mural in Queens and then spent a day re-building a home damaged by Hurricane Sandy.
We painted, we laughed, we painted more, we drank beers, and reminisced about the time we were just strangers in an RV, having fun and doing good… Lightbulb! Just one is all it takes, as a lady named Lucille might say. Friend 1, who you may know as Adam the big idea guy, went home and launched this crazy amazing thing called Have Fun. Do Good. Friend 2, more well known as Ben, Mr. cool creative, went to his computer and shared a bunch of photos. And little old me, the good getter, started finding fun ways to give back to communities all over the U.S. of A. (and of course eventually Costa Rica!) And the wheel just keeps spinning…
So where do you want to go next?
Anna is on the HFDG team and currently resides in New York City. Hit her up at firstname.lastname@example.org