Pre-trip new volunteer blog: Lorin DeBellis

Written by volunteer Lorin DeBellis:

Here I am only a few days away from making my first trip with Random Acts to San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua and I still can’t believe I’m going.

It was actually only in January of this year that I learned of RA and the various programs they organize, and in 6 months my involvement with the organization feels like it’s gone from 0 to 60. I had been thinking rather introspectively going into the new year, as a lot of us do, trying to find that thing in life that would give me focus and maybe even bump 2016 up to the top of my “Best Years Ever” list. I’d had a surface level recognition of the non-profit but it wasn’t until I started seeing tweets about people fundraising for a dreams2acts trip and youtube began recommending construction update videos with Austin Drill that I took the time to tune in and learn what all this was about. What I found, opened a door I didn’t even realize was ever shut.

Seeing the updates from construction staff, members of the SJdS community, and the volunteers themselves was nothing short of inspiring. This project was calling to me with every snippet of volunteers passionately speaking about this project and by the time I decided to start fundraising and join the team I was hooked. These testimonials had opened my eyes to the fact that helping others doesn’t have to be something reserved for those with deep pockets and long lists of connections. Every bit helped and anyone could do it if they set their mind to it.

Sure I had joined social change movements in college but never before had I tried to take on a challenge of this size. $5k is a lot of money to try to raise especially when you don’t have any experience to show to potential donors what you’re capable of doing. I’ll admit, I struggled, a lot, and there were days when I thought “How can I actually reach this goal. It’s impossible.” but as I began speaking online with some of the other volunteers who had been on previous trips I realized two important things.

The first was that if I continued with the mindset that this fundraising goal was impossible to achieve it would be. One of the most successful ways I found to get others interested in helping the project was to talk to them about it.  And when you decide you’ve found a cause worth aiding, your natural enthusiasm, compassion and drive for that goal will shine through. If seeing these other women talking so passionately about the work they had done on the previous SJdS trip was enough to motivate me to try harder, then I could only hope some of that motivation seeped into my own words as I spoke to others. I guess it’s safe to say it did.

And second, there is no losing in fundraising for charity. Sure, when you set a goal and you’re working on a deadline to reach that goal, coming up short may seem like a failure. But here I had to keep in mind that regardless of how much money I fundraised, that was all still going to help build sometime lasting in a community that needed it. So whether you raise $5, $500 or $5,000 you’re getting up and making a difference for something you believe is worth it. There’s no possible way to look at that with defeat.

So with those two things in mind I set out to talk to every person, I mean EVERY PERSON,  I could find and now, 2 months later I’m procrastinating packing my suitcase by writing this blog post.

I surely can’t begin to guess the impact this next week is going to have on me but I can’t imagine I’ll come home exactly as I left. I’m about to meet a whole bunch of those inspiring people in person, as well as a whole community of people I’ve heard amazing things about. And in the end knowing that I’ve at least already helped ensure the success of this project is enough. So, with that I’m sure I”ll have more to say as the week goes on, but for now, I guess I better go pack.

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