Many people fall in love with the island of Ambergris Caye, Belize, and become “repeat offenders” – a fun term that gets used to describe people who have visited multiple times. There is also a less talked about subcategory, ‘repeat offenders with big hearts’ – aka volunteer vacationers.
The following guest post comes from vacation volunteer Carol Taylor. She is a very loyal SAGA (Saving Ambergris Caye Animals) supporter and has always left Belize feeling rewarded by a great Humane Society volunteer experience. Of course, it doesn’t hurt when one of the big fundraising events you plan your holidays around is at the Palapa Bar and Grill. Live at the event was a popular singer, Kelly Mcguire, also a ‘repeat offender with a big heart. He has also long supported the SAGA Humane Society and leaves this beautiful country with a full spirit from the joy of performing annually for a very worthy cause.
I asked Carole if she would be willing to share her island stye experience with you about donating some time to a worthy cause while on Ambergris.
A Vacation Volunteer’s Story – by Carol Taylor
I’ve been a voluntourist with SAGA Humane Society for five years now. After receiving a record-breaking 12 feet of snow in Boston in 2015, I opted to run away from winter the following year and spent several months working remotely from San Pedro. Having worked with numerous animal shelters over the past 20 years, I contacted SAGA Humane Society, where I was welcomed with open arms & quickly inducted into a whirlwind of fundraising events via baptism by tequila.
My favorite one is the annual Kelly McGuire birthday fundraiser, which is held at one of my all-time favorite island hangouts, the Palapa Bar and Grill. Owners/animal lovers, Scott and Jodie Harnish have been generously hosting this birthday bash in their venue for several years. The party always attracts a great crowd, thanks to the Palapa Bar’s fun atmosphere, Kelly’s massive following, and a large number of SAGA supporters.
The last time I was here was a month before the pandemic shut the world down. That year, I dragged along one of my childhood besties, Cathy Kedski, who joined me in selling raffle tickets. This was Cathy’s first vacation abroad in years, and she had so much fun, she can’t wait to return to San Pedro.
This year, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I should have known better. The event was sold out, including the additional seating on the dock. People were in a great mood, looking forward to live music from the birthday boy, Kelly Mcguire — and ready to open their wallets for SAGA. Every table I hit up, responded generously. Kelly is not only an amazing musician but a great emcee and auctioneer — and generous to a fault. He even auctioned the shirt off his back for $500! This year we were able to raise $7,500 BZD, which will go towards SAGA’s spay/neuter efforts on the island.
SAGA fundraisers help maintain or local Humane Society and are very important Causes. As you can see by the infographic (courtesy of Saga fb page) below, operating costs for a humane society add up. SAGA is grateful to all its supporters.
Aside from volunteering while away, traveling is a great way to relax and recharge after two years of pandemic stress and shutdowns. Now that the rest of the world is starting to make travel plans again, why not celebrate your 2022 vacation in a more meaningful way? If you add some voluntourism to your vacation, you can do something good in the communities you visit and meet some wonderful people in the process.
Find out more about Carole’s interesting Ambergris Caye history and see previous Palapa Bar and Grill Party Pictures.
Another perk to volunteering here is the view, the pelicans could not resist the music – photo by Carol Taylor.
Even a stingray joined the fun – photo by Carol Taylor.
Easy Meaningful Volunteering
If you want a relatively quick, easy way to enjoy a heartfelt volunteer experience on the island, an opportunity is coming soon. The San Pedro Belize Red Cross (SPBRC) is hosting a blood drive.
Saturday, February 26, the San Pedro Red Cross will hold its first quarterly blood drive of 2022 at the Polyclinic from 8:30 a.m. to 3 a.m. Give the Gift of Life.
Healthy San Pedranos, ex-pats, and tourists aged 18-65 are all welcome!
To make an appointment call – 615 4300, 614 9115, 615 2005, or 630 2005. Walk-ins are welcome.
Please come well-rested, eat a healthy breakfast or lunch, and be nutritionally hydrated before donating.
Interesting Red Cross news – The Belize Red Cross was one of the partner agencies to help in a Southside Urban Garden Initiative in Belize City. The urban garden areas are meant to provide young people in a disadvantaged area, with a safe and educational neighborhood option.