ABC News Reports
More Americans are choosing to go on philanthropic vacations — along with their extra time and money. Globe Aware, the nonprofit group that organized the McNamaras' Cambodia trip, says enrollment has gone up 40 percent every year since the organization started in 2001.
Last year, more than 65,000 Americans traveled overseas to take part in volunteer vacations, estimates Stefanie Rubin, director of the International Volunteer Programs Association. Organizers say there was a surge of renewed interest after 9/11 and the Asian tsunami in 2004.
"I think it's got people thinking about the world: 'What's out there? What real need is out there?' And how they can connect and be a part of this beautiful world we're in?" says Kimberly Haley-Coleman, the executive director of Globe Aware. "I suspect that there is a growing contingent of people who feel that writing a check to an organization doesn't feel as significant as donating their time. Both are important."
It's not just overseas: After Hurricane Katrina, thousands of volunteers flocked to the Gulf region to help rebuild.
I have felt this same urge, but without the means to carry it out. Important point: "more Americans" means that Americans haven't gone into their little holes since terrorist threats but have been more ready than ever to get up and out and do things for others because we are not cowards and because we care!