Throughout this journey on Remote Year, I’ve been working as a digital nomad using Polycom’s video collaboration solutions to enable my ability to work from anywhere around the world. I have felt welcomed in each of my temporary homes and felt the need to return the kindness I’ve been shown by giving back through donations and volunteer time at charities and non-profits.
Giving back to the community
During my time in Belgrade, Serbia I volunteered at a Refugee Aid Miksalište which a fellow Remotee helped organize. My colleagues and I helped organize and pass out clothing articles to families in need. It was difficult navigating the language barriers and trying to understand what the families needed.
One of the fondest memories I have while volunteering at the refugee center was helping a toddler replace his raggedy shoes with a pair of trainers that were in good condition. I removed the old pair of shoes and helped him slip into his new pair. The smile he gave me in return was priceless and I’ll always remember that moment.
While in Lisbon, Portugal after my work day, I volunteered at Refoods a charity that collects leftover food from restaurants once they’ve closed for the day, and then donates the leftover food to families in need around the neighborhood. The concept is ideal, instead of throwing away food that was not used at a restaurant, they agree to give away their leftovers to the charity. I helped wash and dry plastic containers that were used to store the leftover food. I went with other volunteers to collect the leftover foods from the restaurants. In order to keep this cause going they need about 30-40 volunteers, sometimes they don’t have enough volunteers to help collect food, meaning that leftover food is not picked up and is then thrown away. I’m very thankful that I was able to contribute my time to Refoods and I know other Remote Year groups who will go to Serbia and Lisbon, will also continue these charitable giving traditions.
In addition to volunteering there are opportunities to give back to the local communities through a program started by Remote Year called ‘change for change.’ Every time we transition to a new city, we have the opportunity to give our spare change in the local currency to the charities we have helped during our time there. The program has been so successful that other remote year groups are joining to donate in this way.
Another great opportunity for giving is done by giving our leftover food and any clothing which we won’t be taking to the next city on our journey to the local communities. I was inspired to start this tradition after a trip to the grocery store where I realized that I was buying these spices and certain non-perishable foods and then would toss them as we moved on. I knew this was a great waste and brought the idea to Remote Year. Now at the end of every month, as we prepare to move to a new city, we donate all leftover spices, non-perishable foods and clothing to the local communities.
The opportunity to give back has helped me to make an impact on the places I temporarily call home and I hope to continue to give back to these communities and others around the world as much as possible. See where we’ll be next here with my Remote Year group Darien. If you know of any great local charities or areas of these communities in need, let me know and we’ll add them to our list of great ways to give back.