Pages - Menu

Saturday, April 27, 2013

National Volunteer Week: It Takes a Village

Rwandan Orphan Quilting Project Greeting Card
According to Points of Light, April 21-27, 2013 is National Volunteer Week.  According to me in my role as founder and Executive Director of The Passport Party Project and its newest offspring, every week is National Volunteer Week.  

There is no doubt in my mind that Phase I of The Passport Party Project would not have been as successful as it has been without the generous volunteers that donated their time, their venues, and their ideas to encourage tw/een girls to dream, travel and get their very first passports.  Yes indeed.  It takes a village.

I'd like you to meet them all:

Me and April
April Thompson of Absolute Travel Addict (pictured above) has not only volunteered at three Passport Parties (Los Angeles, Chicago and Atlanta), but she donated money out of her own pocket and offered her assistance even before Expedia came into the picture. She has been there from the start.  April is one of five judges for The Passport Party Project's contest to Belize and the Associate Director of Teen Travel Summit & Extravaganza.  More importantly, April is my friend. (The Los Angeles Passport Party)
Leslie Guettler, CGTravels (The Los Angeles Passport Party)
Los Angeles Non-Profit Facilitators: Krista Williams & TeNita Ballard of LOVELEE Inc. helped by gathering some of the girls.

The Austin Passport Party
Pictured Left to Right (I'm in the middle):
Shelley Seale, Travel Writer and one of five judges for The Passport Party Project's contest to Belize(The Austin Passport Party)
Angela putting up the step and repeat.
*Still laughing* #windy
Angela Pettit, SabbaticalScapes brought her mom to help out.  (The Austin Passport Party)
Julie George, American Odyssey TV (The Austin Passport Party)
Austin Non-Profit Facilitator: Melissa Sustaita of The Ann Richards School 
Austin Venue Donor: Barbara Joubert and Brooke Ulrich of The Miracle Foundation (not pictured)

The Miami Passport Party
Pictured Left to Right (I'm between Jewel and Crystal):
Angela Sustaita-Ruiz, Hispanicize & Latina Mom Bloggers (The Miami Passport Party)
It doesn't get much more
FAB than this! #Jewel
Jewel Figueras, Jewel's Fab Life - who I fondly refer to as Miss-South-Florida-Herself - helped me squelch a panic attack by introducing me to the non-profit that was ultimately selected. (The Miami Passport Party)
Crystal RobertsBrownGirlsFly (The Miami Passport Party)
Chelle Roberts, BrownGirlsFly (The Miami Passport Party)
Cristy Clavijo-Kish, Los Tweens (The Miami Passport Party)
Miami Non-Profit Facilitator: LaCriscia Fowlkes of Honey Shine Mentoring Program (not pictured)
Miami Venue Donor:  Elizabeth Beirnes of Casa Moderna Miami Hotel & Spa and Amuse Restaurant (not pictured)

My chariot awaits.
Brown Palace Hotel
The Denver Situation was a trip.  The Denver Passport Party was scheduled at the beautiful Brown Palace Hotel (thanks to an intro from Kim Mance) and then I had to re-schedule because I got sick and just couldn't get on a plane.  I had no volunteers (although two volunteered and then backed out) and when I rescheduled, the generous Brown Palace simply did not have availability.  The decision to use SAME Café was ultimately a God-send as it sent a message of philanthropy to the girls in attendance, which is in alignment with my personal objectives and those of The Passport Party Project.  Because I had already shipped supplies to Brown Palace far in advance, the generous concierge was kind enough to offer me transportation to the event venue along with a lovely afternoon cocktail.  I thought that was extra nice.

Chill out time at Brown Palace Hotel
Relaxing at Brown Palace Hotel
Libby and Brad of SAME Café
So All May Eat
Denver Non-Profit Facilitators:  Smart Girl
Denver Venue:  Libby and Brad of SAME Café (aka So All May Eat)

The New York Passport Party
Pictured Left to Right (I'm in the middle):

Teri of Travelista TV shares during Show & Tell
Photo Credit: Brooklyn Travel Addict
Tracey ColemanBrooklyn Travel Addict had put together an entire fundraising event for The Passport Party Project right before Expedia and I signed our contract and I had to ask her not to fundraise at the very last minute. (The New York Passport Party)
Ann Arthur AndrewWine Water Travel accepted a partial shipment of the supplies, including an 8 foot step and repeat. (The New York Passport Party)
Teri JohnsonTravelista  TV (The New York Passport Party)
Terri Davis-MerchantTry Anything Once just had a beautiful baby girl!  I guess she decided to try something once. ;-) (The New York Passport Party)
New York Non-Profit Facilitator: Prep for Prep
New York Venue:  MoCADA

The Chicago Passport Party
Pictured Left to right (I'm behind April):
Rosalind eating displaying cupcakes.
Janice TempleThe Skychi Travel Guide (The Chicago Passport Party)
Jessica Mann, Empowering Youth Through Travel, our Chicago non-profit facilitator. We had a scheduling mix up, but Jessica handled it like a pro (and a traveler who knows how to be flexible).
Angie Myers2 Girls and a Bikini who also volunteered on Passport Day in the USA and was in The Passport Party Project's Volunteer Spotlight. (The Chicago Passport Party)
April ThompsonAbsolute Travel Addict (The Chicago Passport Party)
Rosalind Cummings-YeatesFarsighted Fly Girl (The Chicago Passport Party)
Angelique Smith, a supporter and former Editor of the now defunct American Airlines Chicago Passport Party)
Chicago Venue:  Hilton Chicago

The Atlanta Passport Party
Pictured Left to right (I'm between April and Lorraine):
Liz & Me
April Thompson, the Absolute Travel Addict who caught me on video acting silly and whose idea it was to do a Passport Party Project Harlem Shake video. #hysterical (The Atlanta Passport Party)
Lorraine Sanabria RobertstonRun Wifey Run (The Atlanta Passport Party)
Kara Norman, Atlanta Non-Profit Facilitator at EmpowerHer, Inc.  
Atlanta Venue Donor:  Elizabeth Ergle (pictured right) at Omni Hotel at CNN Center was the bomb!  She also made sure we had a super nice #OmniATL giveaway!  (Shout out to Veleisa!)

Contrary to some of the posts and articles I saw on the Internet, Passport Day in the USA 2013 was not cancelled.  There was a sequester, which caused all of the government passport facilities to be closed, but there were still plenty of non-State passport acceptance facilities that participated in this annual passport celebration, and Passport Party Project volunteers - who got a little taste of how difficult it is to give away free passports - were out in Detroit, Philadelphia, Chicago, NYC, DC and Los Angeles getting it done!

Angela Myers of 2 Girls and a Bikini
Passport Day in the USA 2013 - Detroit
Martice Sutton of Girls Going Global
Passport Day in the USA 2013 - Philadelphia
Ana Serafin of Traveling Latina
Passport Day in the USA 2013 - Chicago
Ana is one of five judges for The Passport Party Project's contest to Belize.
Kiratiana Freelon of Kiratiana Travels
Passport Day in the USA 2013 - Chicago
Evelyn Alvarez of The Ripeness
Passport Day in the USA 2013 - New York
Arcynta Ali Childs - Freelance Travel Writer
Passport Day in the USA 2013 - Washington DC

It was especially great to have representation from the Washington DC area, particularly since there was a DC Passport Party originally scheduled for October 2013.  At the last minute, the non-profit facilitator backed out.  #dontask

Special shout out to Julia Coney of All About The Pretty for being available to volunteer and for caring for that same well-traveled 8 foot step and repeat while it was in DC.
Mary Mitchell
Passport Day in the USA 2013 - Los Angeles
My assistant and OBG Adventures staff member Mary Mitchell held it down for me in Los Angeles as I was invited to go on a press trip to the not-to-be-missed Disney Dreamers Academy on the same day as
Passport Day in the USA 2013.  

The San Diego Passport Party
Yep.  It's my Mary again.  =)
Mary hopped a flight from LA to San Diego (long enough to take a deep breath and then exhale) to help out with The San Diego Passport Party.
Mary and Me

Mary Mitchell, OBG Adventures (The San Diego Passport Party)
San Diego Non-Profit Facilitator: Sofia Salgado and Norma of MANA® de San Diego
San Diego Venue Donor: MANA® de San Diego Offices


To all of the volunteers that made The Passport Party Project a dream come true for 100 girls, to Adam Anderson, TBEX, and to my friends and mother who listened to my rants and my cheers; and especially to my husband, who - as usual - gives me everything I need....

Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!
From the bottom of my heart all the way down to my map tights.