How the Book Helps

My wife and I are investing my earnings from The Voluntourist in the organizations that helped me volunteer and the places where I worked. Any royalties will also be used to assist groups such as the La La Shou special education school in Xi’an, China, and the Calvary Zion children’s home in Kiembeni, Kenya. My advance money—plus cash from sales at book events—are being used in the following cities and countries:


Money from The Voluntourist is helping to create a fund for La La Shou, the special needs school where I worked in Xi’an through Global Volunteers. Once the fund grows, it will pay out at least once a year to help with the school’s expenses. We made our first donation in May 2012 and have since donated money from books sales at events in Washington, D.C.; Ames, Iowa; Arlington, Virginia; and St. Paul, Minnesota. We expect to reach our $10,000 funding goal in December 2015. To contribute, go to this La La Shou site or contact Michele Gran at


My wife and I are using funds from The Voluntourist to help create the Franco Lalama scholarship for Cross-Cultural Solutions volunteers (CCS was my volunteer organization in San Carlos, Costa Rica). Mr. Lalama was a Port Authority employee who was killed on 9/11 after leading the evacuation of engineering offices on the 64th floor of One World Trade Center. I became friends with Mr. Lalama’s stepdaughter and her future husband (James and Nancy in the book) through our volunteer experiences in Costa Rica. The scholarship will help would-be volunteers who need financial assistance to pay their program fees. In November 2015 we reached our $10,000 funding goal thanks to money from The Voluntourist, Mr. Lalama’s family, and the estate of my late mother, Sandra Budd. To contribute, please contact Cassandra Tomkin at 914-632-0022,


In November 2012, a $500 donation from The Voluntourist went to the Cloud Forest Institute. We made a second $500 donation in December 2013. The money is being used to help fund a research project by the Cambugán Foundation in Ecuador. The project has two goals, says Anna Connell, U.S. representative for Cambugán. The first is to use camera traps to document wildlife in the Cambugan Reserve (an extension of the SURVIVE Camera Trapping project that targets wild cats in the Choco-Andean corridor). The second is to develop a GIS for the reserve and to generate maps for navigation and publication. The project is led by Mika Peck, who is featured in the Ecuador section of The Voluntourist.


Volunteers for Peace was the portal for my experience in the West Bank, and my wife and I provided funds to VFP for a 2012 summer camp program in Haiti, in La Vallee de Jacmel, a rural agricultural area about three hours from Port au Prince. (My wife worked on a medical mission in Haiti almost 25 years ago.) Here’s an article on the summer camp project: Residents Help Organize Summer Camp for 1000 Haitian Children. For info on VFP go to


We made an additional donation with money from The Voluntourist to Global Volunteers for its India Classroom Sponsorship Fund, which assists four partner programs: Assisi Illam (a day care center and orphanage that cares for about 70 children), Grace School, Seam’s Children’s Home, and St. Joseph Matriculation School in Chennai, India. The fund is used for notebooks, uniforms, bunk beds, paint for classrooms, textbooks, and other supplies requested by the programs. You’ll find more info here: India Classroom Sponsorship.


For two weeks, my wife and I volunteered at the Calvary Zion children’s home in Kiembeni through Travellers Worldwide, a British-based organization. We’ve donated money from the book to the Calvary Zion Children’s Home Support Trust, which helps cover the home’s expenses. According to Susan Peattie, the lovely Scottish woman who created the Trust, our donations have covered annual school fees for 11 of the home’s children, including some of the children featured in the book. We continue to support the trust with an annual donation. You can contribute to the Trust by going to


In March 2012, money from The Voluntourist was donated to a student fellowship program in Los Angeles run by Earthwatch, my volunteer organization in Ecuador. The program sent 100 high school students from underserved communities on Earthwatch expeditions in 2012. The Voluntourist donation helped pay the program fee for a student from the Rosie the Riveter Charter High School. To contribute to Earthwatch, which conducts environmental research around the world, contact Megan Bransfield at


While appearing at a bookstore event in New Orleans in May 2012, my wife and I donated money from the book to Rebuilding Together New Orleans, and in December 2013 we embarked on a week-long social media campaign to help RTNO rebuild a house in Gentilly for homeowner Theresa Llopis. To make a donation to Rebuilding Together, contact


Since 1968, American Near East Refugee Aid (ANERA) has provided health care, economic development, and education assistance to Palestinian refugees in the West Bank, Gaza, Lebanon, and Jordan. Money from The Voluntourist has assisted its efforts in the West Bank. To learn more about ANERA, visit its web site at