June 9, 2017

This summer, add volunteering to your travel agenda

Get inspired by these three stories of innovation and ingenuity across America

A travel company is pairing a trip to the national parks with volunteering this summer. Photo by Zion National Park

Will travel for good: Merely visiting a national park feels great—it could feel even better to also do some volunteer work while you’re there. That’s the theory behind Have Fun Do Good, an organization that bills itself as a “social good travel company.” Have Fun Do Good organizes trips to places all over the globe—from the Grand Canyon to Costa Rica—and mixes in volunteer work. “Our goal is to put a unique spin on ‘doing good,’” explains their website. “From teaching kids how to snowboard to working with turtles in Costa Rica, we like to mix it up.” Their upcoming National Park Tour will lead participants through the Grand Canyon, Zion National Park, Lake Powell and Antelope Canyon in August; it will include a full day of volunteering at Zion (followed by a day of swimming and hiking).

“People helping people. Period.” Menstruation affects billions, but the financial burden it imposes is rarely acknowledged. Aunt Flow, a subscription-box service that provides tampons and pads, hopes to tackle that problem: for every box sold, Aunt Flow donates another to those without access to menstrual hygiene products. Claire Coder, who started Aunt Flow when she was 19, tries to speak out about the issue as much as possible. “We don’t talk about menstruation, so we don’t know the struggles surrounding it,” Coder told Causeartist in a recent Q&A. “The biggest barrier to solve menstrual inequality is to start TALKING about menstruation. The more we know, the more we can solve. Period.”

From convict to college: A nonprofit in Boston is paying former convicts and gang members to get their GEDs and go to college. Boston Uncornered is a three-year pilot program run by College Bound Dorcester; roughly 40 students are paid a weekly stipend of $400 to attend class until they receive their associate’s degree. The aim of the stipend is to provide a steady source of income. “A highly disengaged, highly disruptive group of young people makes a bad neighborhood. If you serve them, though, it’ll unlock the potential of the whole neighborhood,” Mark Culliton, CEO of Boston Uncornered, told CityLab. “Boston Uncornered is not about individual transformation. It’s ultimately about, can some of these hotspots go from places of fear and violence to places of true opportunity?”

Mikhail Klimentov

Mikhail Klimentov is a contributor to The Renewal Project.