Alumni Spotlight: Vince Mirrione

Vincent Mirrione is a 70 year old, retired, serial volunteer. His last trip was from January 21st - March 17th in Guatemala City. He lives in Arnold CA, a small town in the Sierras in northern CA.

Why did you decide to volunteer with CCS in Guatemala?

Vince: I retired from work 15 years ago with an intention to travel. I looked at various vacation magazines and newspapers. Among them was one published by what was then called Elderhostel. I happened to notice a service program run by Global Volunteers. I signed up for a three week program in Poland teaching conversational English at a Polish tax center. I had such a great time that I decided to do a volunteer program every year. For the following four years, I signed up for Global Volunteer programs in Vietnam, China and Romania. I really wanted to stay longer than three weeks and checked the Volunteer Vacation site on the Internet and found that CCS offered 1-12 week programs.

I have now completed nine 8 week programs with CCS. Three in Russia (generally working in an orphanage basically providing day car to toddlers), one in India (working at a Mother Teresa's facility) and five in Guatemala.

Guatemala was chosen because I had taken a tour of the country and found the weather and environs perfect for a winter escape from the snow at my home in the California mountain (I love snow but only for 30 days).

Guatemala city

Describe your day to day activities as a volunteer.

Vince: I completed my fifth time in Guatemala City this past March. I worked at Comedor Guadelupe ( a soup kitchen) in the mornings for the first four weeks. I started at 8:00am and usually chopped vegetables, peeled potatoes or shucked peas until noon. Then I would help serve the noon meal until 1:00pm.

The last four weeks I worked at San Vicente (a home for elderly women). I worked with women who were wheel chair bound and brought them to meals or various activities (no elevators, just ramps up or down one floor). Conversation with the women was
great fun (bad Spanish from me and bad English from them).

The afternoons are generally spent visiting sites of interest (museums, farms, small cities and the like). Since I have been to most, I choose to work in the afternoons. I worked at Marina Guirola with folks aged 15-25 with serious disabilities like cerebral palsy.

They are unable to Speak, walk or feed themselves. So I acted the village idiot and clowned around with them for the first hour and helped with the evening feeding for the second.

How has this experience helped you grow personally and professionally?

Vince: Personally, I have found that the trips have reinforced my long held belief that nearly everyone simply wants reasonable food, shelter and comfort. Everything else is icing on the cake.