Barry and Julie of ShoreTrips created a volunteer tourism program called GIVE. Through this program, travel agents can now easily arrange a morning of charitable work for their cruising and resort-based clients who feel that giving back to the people of the islands is an integral part of a fulfilling vacation. Taking just 4 hours out of their vacation, travelers contribute to the people of the Caribbean by getting involved in the local culture and feeling great about what they do. Eight islands will be the first to benefit from this endeavor.
TRO: How did the idea for GIVE transpire?
J&B: Julie has always wanted to add this type of a program to our traditional excursions for many years. We both have volunteer experience in our lives and we know the importance of giving back all over the world. The GIVE program really launched in January of 2013 when ShoreTrips organized a large group of 350 people to participate in a voluntourism project in Aruba. With the success of this group, the desire to build this program grew at the same time as Hope Floats reached out to ShoreTrips and a partnership grew.
TRO: How does GIVE work?
J&B: Volunteers and travel agents alike book these programs just like they would any other excursion on our website or over the phone. Then, we work with the local charity and our partner, Hope Floats, to coordinate all the details of their day. The volunteers would spend their morning in port volunteering in a local charity doing various tasks needed. ShoreTrips hopes to offer combos with beach days and other activities as well at some point.
TRO: What are the various programs GIVE offers?
J&B: There are several different ways to get involved with GIVE! The programs range as follows:
Education programs: Assist teachers in all classrooms, sing and read books with the children, refurbish new donations, general maintenance within the facility, help with craft projects, exercise with kids on playground, lend hand in project clean ups.
Community Development: Resale store organization, meal preparation, child car, classroom assistant, community maintenance.
Community Clean-up and Meal Programs: Contribute to environmental cleanup efforts, assist in local meal program, general maintenance.
Animal Care and Rescue: Animal care, grooming and feeding animals, walking animals, landscaping within the Humane Society grounds.
Elderly Assistance: Play board games or other organized activities, help serve lunch, sing, read and dance with the residents.
TRO: In what countries have you established GIVE?
J&B: Give has been established in Antigua, Barbados, Belize, St. Lucia, St. Thomas, Tortola, Aruba (on a case-by-case), Cozumel, and finally, hopefully to be added very soon, Roatan.
TRO: Where are you hoping to take GIVE in the future?
J& B: For now we are focusing on the Caribbean. The future is yet unknown!
TRO: How might someone get involved with or contribute to GIVE?
J&B: Book a volunteer program for yourself, clients, and your groups. The volunteer options are on our site for booking. Some agents are adding a GIVE program into the cost of group cruises’ total costs – a great idea! Other agents who take groups out every year and normally give physical gifts are gifting a GIVE program instead. And there are so many church groups and other organizations that are traveling together that would benefit from providing a good service. It is a bonding experience for the facilities and also for the participants in the group itself.
TRO: Is there anything else you’d like to add about this incredible program?
J&B: Launching this program was always a dream of ShoreTrips but is now a reality. The GIVE programs are an invaluable experience to share with clients, colleagues and family. In this program, we hope travelers see the importance the travel industry has on these islands.
One hurtle that we had to overcome was the scenario where people book this 3 months in advance. ShoreTrips wanted to make sure that the volunteers are expected with someone to greet them and facilitate their ‘jobs’ for the half day experience. We are working with non-profit organizations and it is difficult to control who might be at the facility on any one day. By working with Hope Floats, ShoreTrips found a partner that will be that intermediary. Part of their responsibility is to make sure that the guests are expected, that there are appropriate services ready for the volunteers to work on, and that all will run smoothly. The cost of these volunteer activities is $61 per person. That includes a fee we are paying Hope Floats for the administration of the program. It also includes a commission for the travel agent and ShoreTrips is donating 2% of the total sales to individual programs where we have also formed partnerships.