By: Haldis Toppen, Greenheart Work and Travel Director of Employer Relations and Outreach

I first became familiar with All Hands back in 2013. My friend, Abby, was looking for a non-profit opportunity that would connect her with a different part of the United States, while also helping others through direct service. She ended up staying for a year in Long Island, New York, helping those devastated by Hurricane Sandy through terrible flooding. Through her experience, she invited former friends to join the cause, made a plethora of new friends, and even met her now husband.

A bit later, my own journey with All Hands began. One of Abby’s friends also became hooked on All Hands in Long Island, and after coming home from his tenure, the two of us started dating. Not only did one of my best friends become an All Hands devotee, but so did my partner! With this in mind, I knew I would have to make own personal connections to the All Hands organization.

My first volunteer experience was in Detroit, Michigan where flooding had ruined numerous homes, and many did not have the means or support to recuperate. My latest experience was in Canoa, Ecuador where earthquakes devastated the homes of those who were so rural, they lived hours away from the nearest local market.

Throughout all my experiences with All Hands, I have learned several things:

  1. No one small act is TOO small – All Hands accepts anyone who is able and willing to join.
  2. I can make a difference! – I do not pride myself on being a carpenter or good with tools at all. However, the leaders of All Hands have empowered me to be comfortable with the skills I do have so that I can be useful to others.
  3. Kindness and friendship are universal – I have not only gained a more humble perspective after working with All Hands, but I have become friends with people around the world who also care about the people around them.

All Hands is currently giving anyone who wants to come to Louisiana the opportunity to help with flood relief efforts there. All I can say is that if you have the opportunity to go; do it! Not only will you be helping others who need it, but through the friendships you make and the work you do, you will be helping yourself grow.

If you want to find the organization that is the perfect volunteer fit for you, look into the Greenheart Club! Volunteerism is a core priority at Greenheart, and we love connecting with other volunteers – you may even become eligible for a variety of volunteer benefits!