Volunteer Profile: The Smith Family
Dana and Tina Smith strive to raise their two children, Oliver and Sabina (affectionately called Ollie and Bini), to be conscience of and thankful for what they have, particularly around the time of the American Thanksgiving holiday. Residents of Maine, the four have volunteered with Outreach360 on four separate occasions (once in the Dominican Republic, three times in Nicaragua). On their most recent trip, the Smiths spent some time sharing about their experiences as part of the Outreach360 family. This is their story:
How did you hear about Outreach360?
Tina: Several years ago we volunteered together as a family in New Orleans, [USA], and had a really great experience. So we went to the library and checked out a couple of books about volunteer vacations, to look for another opportunity.
Dana: We were really looking for something that we could do as a family, and it was difficult to find something that the kids could do with us. But then we read about Orphanage Outreach, and we were really excited about the program and the opportunity to do something together.
Tina: Soon after we first read about Orphanage Outreach in that library book, I read an article in one of my favorite magazines, Budget Travel, and I read a review about Orphanage Outreach again! I thought, “Oh, that’s it – we have to check this out!” It was also great that the program was in the Dominican Republic, because we’d already been there on a “regular” vacation, and we were excited to do something more service-oriented.
Your first time volunteering with Outreach360 was pretty special; can you share a little about that?
Ollie: I was the 10,000th volunteer! We were greeted at the airport with a lot of excited Outreach360 people holding a large banner and shaking maracas! It was a great welcome.
This was your fourth time volunteering with Outreach360. What makes you keep coming back?
Tina: We always have great connections with the students, the Outreach360 leaders, and the other volunteers. It really does feel like we are part of the Outreach360 family.
Ollie: We just love seeing Coco every year, so we just follow her wherever she goes! First to the Dominican Republic, and now to Nicaragua.
Dana: It’s basically a reality check, to be reminded of what we have and how things are elsewhere in the world.
Tina: And for me, it really renews my belief in humanity to be a part of something great.
Bini: I absolutely love it, and I want to keep coming back! Then when I’m old enough in a few years, to be a Caminos long-term volunteer.
You’ve had several different experiences with Outreach360; what sort of changes have you noticed, either of the program in general or in the students?
Ollie: The students improve so much!
Bini: Oh my gosh, they are smarter every year!
Tina: The level of curriculum is really impressive. The students know the expectations when curriculum is clear, and they know they are held to those standards. That’s really constructive.
Dana: It’s nice to see the consistency that the students have in the classroom, with their daily routines. That level of consistency leads to habits, and those habits become your life.
Do you have a favorite memory from any of your trips?
Bini: I can’t really pinpoint any one thing, because everything is memorable!
Dana: I think reading with the students is always my highlight, and to see that they also share that enjoyment. It’s phenomenal to work one-on-one or one-on-two with the students.
What is your favorite Outreach360 Principle?
Ollie: Poco a Poco, for sure!
Bini: Hmm…I’d say Poco a Poco. And Communicate Love. Ooh, and Jump Right In!! Okay, maybe all of them.
Dana: Communicate love is my favorite.
Tina: I think the principles are great for everyday life, not just for your time with Outreach360, and I like them all!