New Fathom Philanthropy Cruises

Fathom, Impact + Travel is Carnival Corporation’s new Voluntourism based cruise line that has launched itineraries to the Dominican Republic and Cuba for 2016. Here is a link to their website:

The VolunTourism Institute shared their opinion on Carnival’s bold move. Here is their perspective.

And if you’re interested in seeing a sample itinerary for the inaugural cruises, here is one of the Dominican Republic itineraries. Dominican_Republic_Journey_2_pg

We’d love to hear what you think of these cruise itineraries and whether you are likely to make this your next cruise experience. Share your comments below.

Back from Turks & Caicos

We are back from Turks & Caicos in the Caribbean and we had a wonderful Valentine’s Day sharing our love with family, friends, and the children of Enid Capron Primary School.

As planned, we spent most of our time enjoying the beautiful beaches and activities at the Beaches Resort. I took the resort dive course and experienced my very first dive at a site called Thunderdome close to the Amanyara Resort. However, I’m not convinced that diving is more spectacular than snorkeling considering I saw a sting ray while snorkeling just off the beach at Coral Gardens, a short walk from our resort.

As active as we were, it was still a very relaxing trip and certainly more fulfilling with the volunteer visits to the school. We brought 70 lbs of books and school supplies to donate and painted the inside of their new science lab which we can’t wait to see after it’s completed. On a different day, we spent a couple of hours reading to the kids in different grade levels and interacting with them, which was my favorite part of the “Reading Road Trip”. The Sandals Foundation is doing some great work supporting the local communities through activities not only with guest volunteers, but also the resort staff who join in whenever possible.

I also met a very inspiring para-athlete, Rick Ball, whose story I’ll share in a future newsletter, however, for today I’d like to share some pictures from our recent trip which hopefully will inspire you to take some time to give back during your next vacation.

Today’s Inspiring Pictures 

Valentine’s Day is about sharing love and we are so grateful that we were able to celebrate it while Having Fun, Sharing Memorable Moments and Giving Back.

As my brother said, “There was nothing more gratifying on my recent trip to Turks and Caicos then spending a half day painting a new science class room for the local elementary school….  It gave me a new appreciation for what we take for granted and made an impact in the lives of some amazing kids.”


Building a playground for children in Haiti

Here is a story by Andrew Martin of his volunteer work with an amazing Christian non-profit organization called Kids Around the World. Kids Around the World helps children and families who have been affected by war, poverty, illness, and natural disasters. They provide nutritious meals, teach bible studies to education workers, and build playgrounds for the children to ensure their physical, emotional, spiritual and cognitive development. They give children the opportunity to “just be kids” instead of victims of the unfortunate circumstances they’re faced with. I’ve personally had the honor of volunteering with this organization locally and it was an experience I’ll always cherish. Andrew’s volunteer work took place in Haiti. Please enjoy this inspirational story of his volunteer work abroad for the children of Haiti. This is the perfect example of how volunteering abroad can change lives not just today, but for years to come.

“This is life-changing!” reflected one of the volunteers after this morning’s playground dedication ceremony in Bonneau, Haiti.

That’s exactly how we all felt. Building a playground for the children of Haiti was not only life changing for them, but for us as well. But, let’s back up briefly, as the day before the dedication we met with some unexpected challenges!

All that was left to do the day before the dedication ceremony was to finish pouring concrete where needed, building the wheel-chair ramp, and carrying over sand to cover the playground surface.

Sounds simple enough right? Well, first try to imagine the scene.

You pull up to the side of a dirt and rocky road and look down, about 60 feet below and 100 yards out. That’s where the playground will be located. The only way to get there is down a steep dirt path past one leveled out area (that was dug out by hand) for the church that will be built there soon. You then continue further down the hill to the bottom where you encounter at least 15 large sand piles spread out over half of a football field. Only then do you finally get to the playground.

Still, things didn’t seem too bad. There were a number of sand piles within about 30 feet of the playground and we had two wheelbarrows and several buckets. We’d simply carry that sand over to cover the playground’s surface.

However, as we began filling the wheelbarrows with the nearby sand, we were quickly stopped by the local villagers. They explained that the only sand we could use was the sand from the pile that was the furthest away from the playground, about 50 yards away!

Well that wasn’t going to stop our progress. So for most of the day we carried bucket after bucket back and forth until the whole surface was covered by about 2:30 PM.

During this time, others in our team continued their Vacation Bible School with the large group of children that showed up every day. Today, they heard the lesson about Jesus welcoming the children and were told how our Lord welcomes each of them if they will only come to Him in faith.

After a group prayer the children went back to playing games and filling the air with laughter. They even taught us the Haitian version of the hot potato – instead of passing the “hot potato” each child slapped the palm of the child to their left as they sat in a circle singing a local children’s song. We were laughing right along with them as one by one another child was eliminated and those who remained celebrated their little victory.
We returned to the Northwest Haiti Christian Mission (NWHCM) campus exhausted but so excited because tomorrow was dedication day!

After breakfast we helped get the special needs children from the Miriam Center onto the truck for the trip out to the playground. They each sat on the lap of a team member and laughed their way to Bonneau as the wind blew in their faces and they bounced up with each bump in the road. It was a great preparation for the joy they were about to experience.

When we arrived at the site a few of the volunteers ran down the hill ahead of the children to decorate the playground and attach the final swings. We were followed by the many children and parents from Bonneau who had become a fixture at the site over the last 3 days. We saw many of the local men who worked side by side with us to help build the playground. We were proud to now call them friends.

The dedication ceremony began with a speech by Shannon Neel, whose Kimmy’s House Foundation (named after her daughter) had funded the playground in honor of her late father. She beautifully described the love that brought this playground to Bonneau and its children. I then said a few words and Shannon’s brother, Brandon Kirby, finished with a prayer for the children.

It was finally time to cut the ribbon! Shannon, assisted by her brother and son, had the honors.

Our team then helped the Miriam Center’s special needs children into the playground first as the other local children waited patiently (as patiently as they could!). Once each of the special needs children were able to slide down their chosen slide at least once the local children were “freed” to have at it.

We instructed the team members to guard the Miriam kids and make sure they weren’t trampled on by the local kids. We never expected one of the mothers to pose the biggest threat! She had been watching the children on the swings while the others stood in an orderly line awaiting their turn. But as soon as one boy got off the swing this mom came running in, pushed the next boy out the way, and jumped on the swing! The other adults started laughing until about 5 swings in when she leaned too far back and slid almost completely off the swing! The nearby adults caught her just before she fell into the sand. Everyone was laughing hysterically, including her. I guess a playground can turn adults into kids too!

We all continued watching, smiling and laughing, snapping photo after photo, and wiping tears. The pain of sore muscles and sunburned skin vanished with the joy of seeing the children playing with endless energy and laughter. We had such a sense of accomplishment and pride. I must say – job well done team!!


Thank you Kimmy’s House and NWHCM for allowing us to partner with you. And thanks to our team for being such an instrumental part of this wonderful project. Your hard work will allow these and many future generations of children to do what they do best – just be kids!

Happy Valentines Day!

Message from my Heart

It is only appropriate that on Valentine’s Day, I share a message from my heart. As I switched focus from planning typical vacations to planning vacations with a purpose, I was overwhelmed with the amount of volunteer service projects that are available throughout the world. Over the past couple of months I have connected with some amazing people who are doing incredible work through non-profit organizations, foundations, charities, churches and just on their own without any affiliations.

As I go through this journey of planning custom group vacations for all my clients, I will be sharing many touching and life changing stories with all of you. I know so many of you are already involved in giving through personal donations, participation in fundraising events for various organizations who support sustainable projects in education, health and supporting communities which improve people’s lives and preserve our natural surroundings. Taking a vacation and giving a little bit of your time to the communities you visit will only add to the satisfaction you get from these philanthropic activities.

I want my clients to not only experience amazing destinations around the world, but to have an opportunity for life-long memories and travel experiences that will move you deeply.  These vacations will immerse you into the local life and culture, and give you and your families greater appreciation for what we are blessed with.

I count my blessing daily for my good health, loving family and friends, and the opportunity to travel the world. I want to make a difference and I hope that you will join me in doing so. Today I’d like to share the story of an amazing person I met during a recent visit to Jamaica, Terry Farnham.

Today’s Inspiring Story

Can you believe there is more to Jamaica than sugar white sand, warm tropical sun and crystal clear turquoise water?  There is sunshine, beauty, love and warmth of a different kind. It is THE CHILDREN OF JAMAICA.  The c

hildren have stolen my heart and kept me coming back to Jamaica for the last 12 years.  Most tourists see poverty and rugged roads as they drive through the island to get to their hotels, but there is so much more beyond the mountains of Jamaica.  Once you meet the children you can feel the Jamaican love. A love that is vibrant in their wide smiles and bright eyes.  The children are the HEART BEAT of Jamaica. They have warmed my heart, and part of my heart remains in Jamaica.

My husband and I sponsor the cutest little boy, Reynardo with his education. I am also a surrogate mother to two older boys, Michael and Shamar.  We are trying to teach them how to be responsible and guiding them to become successful men.  I’m involved in other projects  which include building a school and starting a girls and boys club through a non-profit organization that I sit on the board called  Jamaica Cultural Alliance, (JCA). Feel free to visit our website, You can also make a donation towards building of the school through this website.


My main objective is not to give handouts, but to teach by way of self reliance.  Reynardo may live in poverty, but his mind is rich. We can stomp out poverty by education; one child at a time.  Michael and Sharmar are learning life skills. I am not just bringing new clothes, food and money to them. They are learning how to be businessmen in the areas of bee farming and chicken farming. They will not go hungry if they can learn how to be self sufficient.  I love the saying, “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.”I would say that is my motto.

I am hosting a group trip to Jamaica in September, 2011: Improving lives today for a better tomorrow, one child at a time.   If you are interested in joining this group, please contact Nina Patel. Hope to see you in Jamaica.

From the hearts of Jamaica, Happy Valentine’s Day!

Terry Farnham