Doing Good Together August 2009 Newsletter .

DGT Color Logo
Doing Good Together Newsletter )
Helping strengthen kids and communities through family volunteerism... August 2009
in this issue
  • Volunteer this Vacation
  • Questions to Ask
  • Inspiration
  • Family Story
  • News From DGT

  • Cross-cultural volunteer vacations can be a rewarding way for your family to see the world. They provide an opportunity for families to spend time together, learn about a new way of life and make a real difference. You will work alongside -- and build relationships with -- people from the hosting community, gaining lessons in tolerance and understanding. The majority of programs require no specific skills -- just enthusiasm, open-mindedness, and a willingness to pay your own expenses.

    Jenny Friedman, Executive Director

    Volunteer this Vacation
    Global Citizens Network

    Make a Difference...

    Many families have found volunteer vacations to be life-altering, an adventure that brings them together like few other experiences can. Global Citizens Network (GCN) based in St. Paul, is a leader in family- oriented cross-cultural experiences and has a particular commitment to involving the entire family in volunteer travel. In fact, DGT was asked to develop the organization's education and reflection materials specifically for families with children. For other volunteer travel organizations that welcome families, see the list on the DGT website.

    Photo: Global Citizens Network

    Questions to Ask
    Faces Magazine

    Talk About It...

    GCN's goal is to have participating families authentically immersed in the host community. This means you could be called on to adapt to unfamiliar and sometimes challenging conditions. Here are some questions the folks at GCN suggest you think about and frankly discuss as your family considers volunteer travel. For other ideas and considerations, visit the family page on the GCN website.

  • Does your family like adventure?
  • Do you enjoy multicultural experiences and interactions?
  • How does your family deal with unpredictability and risk?
  • When you're challenged as a family, does it bring you together?
  • How do you handle things as a group if events do not go according to plan?
  • Are you willing to share yourselves with others?
  • Can your family perform as part of a team?

  • If you decide that together you are game to handle unglamorous living conditions, are curious about the customs of other cultures, and have some innate flexibility, consider the enormous benefits of volunteer travel.

    Learn About It...

    From the publishers of Cricket and Cobblestone, Faces is a wonderful magazine that helps young people (ages 9-14) understand how people in other cultures live. Each issue focuses on a different region or theme and is full of fascinating articles with strong kid appeal. Also included: folktales, biographies of key historical and political figures, and games and activities. An electronic sample issue is available here.

    Photo: Faces-a multicultural children's magazine


    "We are visitors on this planet. We are here for 90 or 100 years at the very most. During that period, we must try to do something good, something useful, with our lives. If you contribute to other people's happiness, you will find the true goal, the true meaning of life."

    The Dalai Lama

    Family Story

    Some kids learn about Native American customs and history in school. Chloe Johnson learned about them by traveling 1500 miles to the Olympic Peninsula, to experience the life of the Quileute tribe. Chloe wasn't trying to make her college resume look good; she is only 9 years old. She went at the urging of her grandmother, Rita Johnson, who had dreamed of taking a volunteer adventure with Chloe since the day she was born.

    Rita is so passionate about cross-cultural travel, in fact, that she is on the board of Global Citizens Network, a leading volunteer travel organization based in St. Paul, Minn. Last summer, when Chloe turned 8, Rita and Vern Johnson traveled together with Chloe and her dad, Aron (Rita and Vern's son) on a GCN trip to La Push Washington, a tiny fishing village on the Pacific coast and home to the Quileute. GCN partners with the tribe to assist in maintaining its cultural traditions and supporting its economic growth.

    Rita saw the trip not only as a chance to spend time with Chloe, but also an opportunity for her granddaughter to form relationships with her fellow volunteers and members of the La Push community. Children prompt a certain openness that can speed up the connection to the community, says Johnson, and this trip was no exception. Plus the volunteer team "wrapped their arms around" Chloe, which allowed her to feel confident, relaxed and engaged during the eight-day trip.

    The team was lucky to be in La Push as it was preparing to celebrate Quileute Days, in which elders teach the youth their customs and culture. Chloe learned about beading, drumming and other tribal traditions. In a particularly powerful moment, the entire team was invited to join a drumming circle.

    Chloe faced some challenges as well-including an unexpected move to new quarters in the middle of their stay, and a twisted ankle. Some of the Quileute traditions were difficult to accept, too, like the custom of making two of any craft item and giving away the first one as a gift. Chloe found herself becoming instantly attached to the beautiful beaded necklaces she created-all of them.

    Rita, who lives in St. Paul, Minn., is still struck by how her family members got to know one another in new ways, enabling them to more fully appreciate one another's strengths. Though hard to swallow at first, the Quileute tradition of gift giving even made a big impression. For her ninth birthday, Chloe asked for donations to a local animal shelter rather than gifts. "It's become a pattern of life," Rita says, "looking for opportunities for giving instead of just receiving."

    News From DGT

    Though a relatively new nonprofit, Doing Good Together is recognized as an invaluable community resource in making volunteerism a regular habit for more and more families. The next several years promise to be exciting ones for Doing Good Together, and our board of directors will play a central role. DGT is seeking board members who:

  • are passionate about our mission;
  • work for a Minnesota corporation and/or have social media experience.

  • We are also seeking volunteers for our development committee and other areas. If you'd like to be involved with DGT, we'd love to talk about how your interests and talents might help further our mission. Please contact Jenny at

    Quick Links...

    phone: 612-822-6502

    5141 16th Avenue South | Minneapolis | MN | 55417

    This email was sent by maryann reynolds for