Volunteering on Vacation

July 2013

Hillebrand Steve, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

If vacation is all about feeling good, then taking a little time out of your exciting schedule to volunteer would seem fitting, right?


I’m currently in the midst of an untimed sabbatical, traveling around visiting friends and attempting to finish my book. My current stop is beautiful South Lake Tahoe, where a good friend of mine lives.

Sally and I used to be roommates, but she left the hot and humid confines of Houston, TX to move to South Lake Tahoe (SLT) to work in Public Relations for Vail Resorts. Sally always raves about how amazing her job is, but one thing she loves the most, especially in the off-season is the program her company created called, Epic Volunteers.

Last week I had the chance to hang out with Sally to visit the non-profit she committed to helping for the six-week program. Kids and Horses is an equine therapy-riding program located in Minden, Nevada, that serves special needs children and adults ranging from as young as four years old and up to 54. This was a fitting charity to help as Sally grew up in a small town in Texas on ranches and riding horses.

If you’ve ever worked with any smaller or local non-profits, you know just how much they depend on volunteers like Sally and corporations like Vail Resorts to lend a hand whenever possible. Not only was Kids and Horses an incredible program, it was so awesome to see how much they valued each of their volunteers and visitors, including Sally and myself.

The kids absolutely adored the time they spent on the horses and the activities at the ranch, and they were incredibly grateful for their time there. I had the chance to chat with one of the mothers who has a son and daughter in the program and she explained how this class and time at the ranch was the highlight of their week. That says a lot since her kids are also involved in swim lessons, camping and just starting to get into other sports and hobbies.

I know, vacations with your best gal pals are usually about indulging in fine wine and champagne, reading on the beach or going on a beautiful hike around some of the best views, as they should be, but it can also easily be about helping others.

Here’s my challenge to you on your next extended vacation (or next time you have a girlfriend visit you in your hometown), to find a few hours to give back and lend a hand to a volunteer group that warms your heart, whatever that may be.

Read Sally’s blog post about the Epic Volunteers program and her experience with Kids and Horses. Hopefully it will inspire you as it has me.

Jayme Lamm is a freelance writer and marketing consultant based in Houston focusing on travel writing and is in a full-court press writing her hugely opinionated sports column, The Blonde Side. Be sure to follow Jayme’s travel and sports adventures on Twitter @jaymelamm.

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