Friday, December 11, 2009

Volunteering On Vacation

Whenever I go on vacation, I have simple objectives, most of them related to how much rest and relaxation I can cram into my days away from it all. Oh, sure, I also love discovering new places and different things to do, wining and dining, spending quality time with my lovely wife, and catching up on my reading.

But I am also at the stage in my life where I crave doing more, even while lolling in the sun, listening to the crash of endless waves and gazing off into the nothingness without a care in the world. Yes, even while on a tropical paradise like Maui, I try to manage my triad of balance—I exercise, eat right, read and write every day, and look inside myself for personal growth opportunities that enhance my spirituality.

This year, while perusing one of those guides you pick up at the airport that brag about dozens of great things to do while in Hawaii, I stumbled upon one of the most rewarding experiences my wife and I have shared and enjoyed in ages.


I phoned the Pacific Whale Foundation and learned that not only could they offer us such amazing adventures like a day of working at an organic farm in the upcountry town of Kula, or helping remove invasive species at sacred, protected grounds in the West Maui Mountains, but that they wouldn’t cost a cent, not one Maui dollar. Not only that, by volunteering to get our hands dirty and our bodies sweaty, we could also meet wonderful people, experience new and interesting activities, and feel that incredible feeling that only giving of your time for a worthy cause can give you.

I have to say that I have been fortunate enough to have visited Maui many times, and while every visit is special and enjoyable, this visit, and our volunteering efforts, was the highlight of decades of highlights. We gave back, added solutions to problems by participating in organic farming, socialized with like-minded, friendly people, took and gave back to the earth, and even finagled a free farm-fresh lunch out of the deal.

Here is a brief snapshot of my day at O’o farm:


And here is the written version:

· awoke at 6:00 am
· drove to upcountry town of Pukalani
· met with other volunteers (Brenda)
· met Richard and Sunanda at O’o Farm
· assigned to pull weeds for a few hours with Sunanda
· watched others pull weeds while I filmed
· watched others pull weeds while I made Sunanda laugh
· filled wheelbarrow with weeds
· emptied wheelbarrow filled with weeds
· stopped for lunch
· made Sunanda laugh
· enjoyed an amazing homemade vegetarian meal made by Sunanda
· happily discovered a port-o-potty
· went back to work at the farm
· watched Wendy and Brenda and Sunanda plant vegetables
· filmed them planting vegetables
· firmly told to put the camera away and help plant vegetables
· happily discovered the port-o-potty again
· stopped and gazed at the amazing vista of the Pacific ocean from several thousand feet above sea level
· announced to all, for the hundredth time, how content, pleased, thrilled, fulfilled, and excited I was to be sharing such a wonderful experience with them
· planted some vegetables
· shot some video
· made Sunanda laugh again
· and called it a day

Volunteering any time is an important way to give back to those who are less fortunate than us, as well as helping others who are working to change the world for the better. Volunteering while on vacation makes something that is great to begin with even more so. And adds a spiritual balance to the rest of your life.

I would like to thank everyone at the Pacific Whale Foundation and O’o Farm, Brenda, and especially Richard, Sunanda, and Dasa, who went out of their way to make my wife and I feel as if we’d known them forever, and whom we now consider forever friends.

Until next time…




Karen, author of "My Funny Dad, Harry" said...

What an interesting vacation you had!
I always use my vacations for volunteering. In my younger days I used to be a Christian Camp counselor but now I use help with Vacation Bible School and Sports camp at our church.

Barry said...

One of your best posts Mike. I watched both videos and certainly learned a lot.

Congratulations to you and your wife for doing this.

kRiZcPEc said...

Thanks for sharing!

Susan Blake said...

What a phenomenal opportunity, Mike! I loved this! Leave it to you to show us all how to do something good while on vacation. We are going to Turks & Caicos in April - I will definitely look into whatever volunteering opportunity there is there. As always, thanks so much for your continuing inspiration!

Steve Borgman said...

Mike, great to see how you got so much in on your vacation. I agree: I believe that this type of activity would make vacation that much more satisfying.

Rod said...

Since your a frequent flier to the islands Mike, it must make you feel great to do something beneficial for the locals, in away that makes you feel more connected and giving back to the community. Great inspirational blog post!

The Fitness Diva said...

What an awesome, cool, cool thing to do! Looks like a great way to experience a place from the inside out! ;)

And I'm sure they really appreciated your help!

Sagan said...

That's such a nice way to spend a vacation. I've helped build a church one time on a holiday and it was wonderful- the experience can't be beat.

Unknown said...

karen: then you understand firsthand how rewarding this was...

barry: you are too kind, sir, thanks.

kriz: thanks for stopping by...

suzen: i wish you luck in discovering a volunteer opp of your own...hugs back at ya

steve: it was one of the best trips we've ever had...

rod: the thing is, we feel more like locals than visitors, making giving back that much more rewarding...

fitness diva: i like that: from the inside out...

sagan: i would love to do something like that, build a church...amazing...



Bryan said...

It seems that you really had fun in your vacation, your photos tell it all! keep posting!

aed defibrillator said...

Am too is a great fan of gardening especially veggies and herbal. This hobby will not only give you nutritious harvest, but the concept of helping the environment through natural way of planting is more important.

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