By Marcelle Benedicta, Director of Business Development & Operations

What better way to start the J-1 Summer Work Travel program than to volunteer and give back to the community right away? That’s what 36 participants from the United Kingdom did after arriving in Orlando, Florida this summer.

CCI Greenheart and our Summer Work Travel partner in the UK, who was also present for the event, organized an afternoon for the participants to volunteer at the local Salvation Army. We started with touring the facility and learning more about the Salvation Army, as presented by Octavio Serrano, the Director for Volunteer Service. Their expansive facility included a church, a gym, a men’s house, and two residential towers for senior citizens.

Octavio shared the history of Salvation Army and the various services/programs that they provide to the community. At the end of the tour, Octavio shared the result of a survey that they had conducted a while back. The children who had stayed there were asked what they miss about not living at home. The answers included, “I miss my bed. I miss not having to share my toys. I miss having my own toiletries. I miss the smell of my mom’s cooking.”

Hearing these answers was touching and it put the J-1 participants in the right state of mind as they began doing the volunteer work. The volunteering project included some yard work (pulling weeds, raking leaves, and picking up trash), cleaning the common area of the Catherine Booth tower, and cleaning the church.

It was a hot day in Orlando, but this didn’t damper the participants’ spirit … They had a great time volunteering and knowing that they have made a difference in the community. Check out the pictures to the right!

Interested in hosting a service project? Learn more about getting involved in Greenheart Projects.