|Doing Good Together Newsletter|
Jenny Friedman, Executive Director
Make a Difference...
Photo: Global Citizens Network
Talk About It...
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...
"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
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."
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:
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.