Serve to Travel

non-profit + travel

Lake Atitlan Villages

When I first began to research Lake Atitlan villages almost two years ago, there wasn’t a lot of diverse information. Lake Atitlan is a massive lake with 15 small villages surrounding it. What I could find online basically said every village was  gringo town with a little variety here and there. Now, I’ve been back and forth to the lake probably 10 times. Here is what I wish I knew about the Lake Atitlan Villages when I first went.

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A Self-Fulfilling Cycle


When I first came to Guatemala I was overwhelmed. As I spent more time here, I was able to sort through things. I work with a nonprofit aiming to better the lives of those living in the red zones. That’s a staggering task, but we are targeting the youth and pairing them with mentors to invest in their lives. And, it works. The next generation of youth are less likely to become involved in gangs, fall into abusive cycles and are more poised than their parents to break cycles of their communities.

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A Guatemalan Christmas

A Guatemalan Christmas always includes fireworks

This year, I marked my first true Guatemalan Christmas. I’ve been in the country leading up to Christmas, but never spent the big day here. There is no Thanksgiving in Guatemala. So, the natural US divide between ‘Christmas time’ and the rest of the year is gone. I’ve always grown up with a more traditional Southern Christmas. Maybe a little black Friday shopping after Thanksgiving. But Christmas doesn’t get into full swing until a week or two before. We would decorate the house and then Christmas Eve and Christmas Day the family would get together for dinner. Sometimes we hit the movie theaters Christmas Day. Not in Guatemala.

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What They Don’t Tell You About Long-Term Volunteering

Volunteering abroad long-term is an amazing experience. You gain the opportunity to travel abroad, experience new cultures, learn new languages and push your personal boundaries. In volunteering abroad, you’re able to use your skills to make a difference in the world. You make memories and friendships that will last with you for a lifetime. There are so many reasons to go abroad to volunteer long-term (but that’s a post for another day). But, there are some things they don’t tell you about long-term volunteering. And, as someone who went abroad to work with non-profits, I wish there is a more honest conversation about the positives and negatives of volunteering abroad. Continue reading

Off the Grid…for a Good Cause

Went off the grid to work on a Nonprofit project

So, I’ve been a bit MIA lately. I haven’t posted anything in a while. Aside from the unexpected publishing of my collaboration article – and sharing that – I’ve been off the grid lately. I didn’t mean to, but I got a bit distracted with another project. As all of you know, I am based out of Guatemala where I work alongside a nonprofit working with at-risk youth. I’m a jack of many trades with them: administrator, ‘mother’ to the kids, disciplinary, strategist, etc. One of the many hats I wear is in their development area. And, with the end of the year almost here, I found myself behind schedule with organizing their fundraising strategies. Continue reading

Collaborating with Some of the Best

What to know before volunteering overseas

© Naomi Liz, Roaming the Americas (used with permission)

An exciting thing as an amateur blogger is when a blogger you admire asks you to collaborate on an article. Recently I decided to wade into the blogger world and share my volunteer/travel experiences since leaving the US. In this time, Don’t Forget To Move became a blog I’ve really enjoyed following. I love that they pair traveling with sustainable volunteering. They have a large following and are quite popular, but still have that approachability that other big blogs sometimes loose. So when they approached me earlier this month about collaborating on an article with them, I jumped at the chance.

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Kentucky, When it’s Not Derby Season

Visit bourbon distilleries if in Kentucky when it's not Derby season

Usually, the first thought to mind when you mention Kentucky is the Derby. Or, in the case of Guatemala, Kentucky Fried Chicken? But, once the Derby has passed, to an extent, Kentucky slips back into oblivion. Occasionally throughout the year the state comes back on the nation’s radar with it’s college sports. But, don’t overlook Kentucky throughout the rest of the year. There are so many other things to do in Kentucky when it’s not Derby season.

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The Table: Community Where They Are

The Table, where they meet the community where they are

The Portland community of Louisville is a neighborhood that regularly gets a bad reputation and known as a blue collar, lower income community since it’s establishment in the 1820s. The Great Flood of 1927 severely damaged the community. Characterized by low economic opportunities and poor education, Portland has remained somewhat stagnant in recent years. One of the greatest problems facing the community are drugs and the overall ‘drug economics’.

However, within the Portland community, small flecks of improvement are springing up. Parts of Portland are slowly beginning to change. However, much of the Portland community that runs along the “West Louisville” side, has yet to see much change. Drug use, food insecurity and lack of education (close to 50% of the neighborhood doesn’t have a high school education) are frequent problems. Working to address these issues in the neighborhood is The Table.

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