January and February are the months of HI-USA’s Great Hostel Give Back (GHGB) – a scheme encouraging groups of 10 or more travellers to get involved in the local community by offering a minimum of two hours of their time each day of their stay to a volunteer project. In return, volunteers get to stay at the hostel free of charge!
HI-USA hostel experts are happy to help your group get connected with a local service agency. Your group can volunteer in a variety of ways, such as serving meals at a homeless shelter, organising food and clothing donations, cleaning up a park, helping at an animal shelter or creating a mural to beautify a neighbourhood school. Every group has something to offer.
Volunteering is a fantastic way to give back to the local community and a worthwhile way to spend your time. It can also be beneficial to you and your group. You may be college or university students who would benefit from adding extra skills to your CV or resumé. Or you may want to enhance your teamwork skills, your people skills, or simply spend some time finding out what you enjoy doing. Whoever you are, volunteering is for you.
The hostels included in the project are:
- HI Austin
- HI Baltimore
- HI Boston
- HI Chicago
- HI Harpers Ferry
- HI Houston
- HI Los Angeles Santa Monica
- HI Lucas Malabar Farm
- HI Madison
- HI New York
- HI Philadelphia Chamounix Mansion
- HI Portland Hawthorne District
- HI Portland Northwest
- HI San Diego Downtown
- HI San Francisco City Center
- HI Santa Cruz
- HI Washington DC
Amanda Dwyer, national sales manager at HI-USA, says the Great Hostel Give Back is one of her favourite programmes: “As a non-profit, HI-USA is very focused on being involved with the local communities and getting our travellers to learn more about where they’re staying,” she says. “We have had so many amazing groups participate, most of whom are part of a university alternative school break programme where volunteering is the key component of their trip. By staying in a hostel, these groups are also bonding more with each other and getting the opportunity to meet really interesting travellers from around the world.
“Another reason that we like having the GHGB in January and February is that a lot of people are focused on volunteering leading up to the holidays, helping at food banks, homeless shelters, etc. but the early part of the New Year is generally a slower time for these agencies. Therefore, this is a great way to help them fill a need. Many volunteers don’t have a lot of money to travel so the GHGB helps fill that need as well.”
So far this year, the Great Hostel Give Back has seen 150 individuals in total donating at least 800 hours of volunteering – and there’s still plenty of time before the programme closes for the year in February to get a lot more hours in!
If a stay at any of the participating hostels around the USA, coupled with the chance to give back to the local community, appeals to you, apply here.
Not part of a group but still want to volunteer in the USA? No problem! HI-USA are always ready to welcome volunteers at any time of the year to take part in activities such as:
- Guiding walking tours in New York City,
- Taking fellow travellers to festivals at HI-Washington DC,
- Helping to make the hostel more eco-friendly in HI Houston
- Or even guiding hikes in Santa Monica!
Visit HI-USA’s Volunteer page to find out more and get inspired!