20 / Jan / 2022
by Josie Humbert – Volunteer
How two weeks changed my life
This past summer, I traveled to Central America to support the work of The Corcovado Foundation, whose mission is to protect Costa Rica’s natural heritage for future generations.
By following United Nations objectives, they promote education and empower communities to strengthen and protect wildlife areas. My work with The Corcovado Foundation to prevent, stop, and reverse the degradation of global ecosystems changed my life.
I felt compelled to travel to Drake Bay, Costa Rica after learning how volunteers are a part of their self sustaining efforts: using techniques that support biodiversity without pesticides.
This area was disproportionately affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, which had cut them off from their primary source of income derived from ecotourism.
During the two weeks I was there I had the opportunity to interview four local farmers who shared their stories and taught me the new techniques they are using to cultivate land more efficiently. I was inspired by their utter dedication to become more environmentally conscious as they cared for their land.
Before traveling to Drake Bay, I collected donations of $2,250 for the Corcovado Foundation to support their Environmental Education Program which teaches youth in Costa Rica how to protect the Earth.
To raise this money, I used techniques I had learned in the Future Philanthropists Program including social media and “personal asks” to reach out to family and friends. Then I documented my trip on social media, posting daily updates to my supporters. By sharing what we were learning, we showed donors how their money was being used. They also received a thank you letter when we returned home.
While I was there, I shared my passion for sports and service with local children by offering two free soccer clinics. We had packed 50 pairs of new cleats in our suitcases and passed them out at the clinic. This was a dream come true as I shared my love of soccer and provided much needed cleats.
On my last day volunteering in Costa Rica, I spoke with the Executive Director of the Corcovado Foundation to share some ideas for sustainability and future fundraisers I wanted to offer. She turned to me and asked, “Would you like to be the first Teen Board Advisor on our Board of Directors?” It was the easiest “Yes!” I have ever answered, as I am enthralled with the Foundation’s mission. Even though I am home in Chicago now, we share ideas via text messages, and I attend board meetings via Zoom to brainstorm ideas for engaging more teens in efforts to solve the climate crisis.
Being part of the Future Philanthropists Program helped me be a more powerful and impactful leader. I didn’t anticipate that volunteering for two weeks 3,600 miles away from home would turn into a life-long commitment.
My advice is to ask what is something close to your heart that you can engage in improving– whether it is on your block, in your community, for a local organization or an NGO countries away. In the words of Dr. Seuss, “Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.”