On a Continental Road Trip to Promote Volunteerism With 50Give
Donohue is more than halfway to his goal of volunteering for nonprofit organizations in all 50 states; Washington, D.C.; Mexico; and Canada.
"I decided to do this after changing career paths," Donohue told AOL News. "Basically I want to encourage people in their 20s and 30s to volunteer, and I want to give recognition to local nonprofits on a national scale."
Before the trip, he spent about five months researching various nonprofits around the country, because he wanted to choose volunteer experiences that would reflect the broad spectrum of opportunities available. Donohue set out on the road in his Honda Element in February and so far has spent time volunteering in 32 states, blogging about each experience along the way.
"I wanted to do a little bit of everything," says Donohue, "to show people that there are millions of things you can do as a volunteer."
At times he has done more than he ever expected. While volunteering with Wellness in the Schools in Brooklyn, he had to take over a class on eating and cooking healthy when the instructor suddenly became violently ill.
"We were making and serving potato salad when the instructor looked at me a little funny and started vomiting," Donohue says. "I had to take over the next cooking class and teach it myself. Thankfully I had been paying attention!"
While he started this journey to promote volunteerism among young people, one thing that has surprised him is how many retirees are volunteering around the country.
"At Friends of Acadia in Maine, the majority of the men I worked with were retired and having a blast [volunteering]," he says. "That's one thing I've learned: Many retired people are volunteering and doing phenomenal work."
Donohue hopes that if nothing else, his one-man road show encourages volunteerism by highlighting the variety of nonprofits that are doing amazing, interesting work but need volunteers to continue to do so. As it says on his website, volunteering is the star of his trip -- he is just the sideshow.
"I want people to understand that when you volunteer, you can do so many cool things. And that when you give back, you give back to yourself."