How Being of Service Became A Way of Life
I initially experienced the healing power of service to others in September of 2005 in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. My personal life was in tatters and all I wanted to do was be consoled by my mother… who happened to be volunteering as a nurse for the Red Cross at a shelter in Baton Rouge, LA. I was able to travel down South and work as an independent volunteer in the shelter on the campus of Louisiana State University, assisting my mom (a nurse practitioner) in setting up a foot care clinic for diabetics and offering psychological first aid to others when needed. Not only did the strength and resilience of the people literally walking out of New Orleans help me put my life into perspective, but it gave me a model for how I wanted to live my life going forward and I knew I wanted to incorporate more volunteer work and humanitarian missions into my life.
For me, service is not only about having a passion to put some good in the world but to be able to also connect with others who find joy and fulfillment through the shared purpose of helping others. In 2012, at the age of 32, I commissioned into the U.S. Army, thinking it would be one long humanitarian mission! While it wasn’t quite what I expected, it remains one of the best decisions of my life. I left the military after five years and found myself struggling with feelings of isolation and loneliness as I adjusted back to civilian life. Once again, I found solitude in service when I began volunteering with Team Rubicon, a veteran founded disaster response organization. My mood immediately began to improve as I spent more time with others who believe in extending a hand to help when people are having the worst days of their lives.
In coaching for UGO, not only do I get to be able to help others have a transformative experience, but I also get to share in learning from different cultures. There has never been a trip abroad or domestic that I haven’t met someone amazing, heard an incredible story, and felt the power of community. In this day and age of social media and the 24-hour news cycle, it’s easy to get caught up in feeling as though the world is on fire, but through getting out of my bubble and finding others who live in service, I gained hope for humanity and a way of life. ~ Jess Kissane-Johnson
Jess is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker turned Life Coach who recently joined the team at UGO Impact. Seeking the desire to travel abroad and make connections with those also committed to making the world a better place, she was inspired not only by UGO’s Triple Change Effect but by the absolute passion both Jill and Nicole have for being a force for good. In her spare time, Jess also volunteers for Team Rubicon, an organization that focuses on serving vulnerable and at-risk populations affected by a disaster.
Jess will be headed to Costa Rica February 15th to the 23rd to work alongside UGOs local partner The Association of Producers La Amistad (AsoProLA) on a project that will change their community – repairing homes of low-income families. AsoProLa creates development alternatives for the communities surrounding the Biolley District, guaranteeing the conservation of the natural resources of the La Amistad International Park (PILA) and of the local communities.
If you are ready to get off the beaten path, find clarity or a sense of purpose within a safe and highly curated team program – UGO is for you. By harnessing the power of volunteering and personal development as a force for good, UGO gives you the opportunity to truly make a lasting difference. Over three months we provide pre-trip, on-trip, and post-trip programming ensuring that you come home with a deeper sense of confidence and clarity while becoming part of an extraordinary community of like-minded friends ready to support you and help you thrive. Message Jess if interested in joining the team at [email protected].
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