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2019 Top-Rated Nonprofit

Bright Light Volunteers International

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Arts & Culture, Children & Youth, Cultural & Ethnic Awareness, International, International Relief, Youth Development - Citizenship, Youth Development Programs

Mission: Bright Light Volunteers exists to promote cross-cultural understanding, volunteerism, and cultivate positive global leadership in the world.

Target demographics: provide struggling communities the funding and man power to increase access to education, improve community infrastructure, and work on environmental projects

Direct beneficiaries per year: thousands of community members, over 500 students, and 9 independent communities

Geographic areas served: Communities around the world, promoting cross-cultural understanding, sustainability, and fostering global leadership.

Programs: school construction, well building, community improvements, teaching and education initiatives, house construction, and much, much more!

Community Stories

40 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

Alex Van D.

Client Served

Rating: 5

My name is Alex. I got exposed to Bright Light through a great friend that I look up to and once I went on my first program I was hooked! Every program I have been part of has left me feeling filled up as a person that there are organizations like Bright Light that are doing powerful work and truly serving in our world. I can't wait to bring my family on more programs and expose my daughter to the global learning and true service through Bright Light.

2 GioTrinidad

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I had the great pleasure of cooperating with BLV while they were over here in Trinidad,Cuba.According I could witness their influence in the participants of their program is absolutely a positive one, I mean to say not only in the volunteers but also in the families that they assisted.
Per example, while others see obstacles they see opportunities to show solidarity, while others build walls they build bridges...
So,will be a great pleasure to say: welcome back to Trinidad BLV

Sherrye H.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

Three of my five children have taken part in these trips. All three have come back home with a new prospective on life and the desire to continue to help others. The youngest of the five is about to embark on her chance to do this and I am sure there will be more than one trip for her. The work these groups do is a life changing experience for the ones going and the ones receiving the help. This organization is changing lives every day, how many can actually say that they have made such an impact? Wonderful organization.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I traveled to Trebisht, Albania with Bright Light almost a year ago to the day. We rebuilt an elementary school that had been destroyed by fire. We were able to work alongside local masons, and participate in all aspects of the build itself, as well as spend time with some of the locals. We had a group of 12 adults. We all had such an amazing, and fulfilling experience. The way things were setup, we ate all meals together, and did group activities so that we all left feeling more like a family then friends, or in some cases a group of strangers coming together for a common cause. I worked alongside Catherine, the founder of Bright Light, and she was lovely. She was constantly coming up with ideas, and really helped guide us when it came to fundraising strategies, especially when things were proving more difficult on our end then initially anticipated. Our guides were fantastic women who were constant support throughout the trip. My entire group came back from the trip with a deeper sense of meaning, and appreciation, and we have them to thank! I cannot wait to work with Bright Light again!

2 Adrianne R.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Bright Light Volunteers is an extraordinary opportunity for all ages to broaden their understanding of the world and other cultures. The programs are engaging, hands-on, eye opening, educating, thrilling, fulfilling in many ways, and very well thought out and pre-planned by an excellent group of board members. Becoming a part of the organization has been the best benefit thus far. You gain so many new friends and make numerous connections from all over the world. Being a global citizens is very rewarding.

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

My name is Alexis Soria and Bright Light Volunteers has truly changed my perspective on volunteer service. Last summer I got the chance to volunteer in Peru with school children and create everlasting memories and friendships. Working in Peru taught me that there is more to value in life such as family and traditions which was truly an eye opening experience.

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Visiting a new place can be nerve racking! The first time I joined BrightLight was the summer of 2018 in Costa Rica. I then rejoined them this summer (2019) again in Costa Rica. Through this organization, I found the happiest country in the world. Through this organization, I found something that I truly love; helping others. BrightLight Volunteers helped me realize that there is more to the world than the small town you live in, or even the big city. In Costa Rica, we learned all about permaculture, we learned how to treat animals in a rescue center, and most of all, we learned how to adapt in a new environment! This year we stayed in Atenas, which was absolutely gorgeous! We visited Manuel Antonio National Park one day. This was such a great experience! It’s not everyday you get to see monkeys on the beach! Throughout the week, we helped in the local elementary school with an after school program. The kids were so energetic and excited that we were there to play with them! Looking back at my time in Atenas, Costa Rica, i know we were there doing great things and helping the community! BrightLight Volunteers has helped me understand the meaning of actually helping others through travel! I will always be grateful for this organization!

1 Natalie M.2

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Bright Light Volunteers has been an extraordinarily beautiful program since the day that it popped into my life here at Bethel University. I have travelled with BLV to some absolutely breathtaking places, like Cuba, Colombia, and most recently Costa Rica. Each opportunity holds so many lessons about life, allows the students to gain cultural competence and awareness, introduces a foreign language, teaches independence and courage, provides experience for future schools and/or jobs, and overall gives the students a better sense of themselves. I highly recommend this program to anyone interested in travelling and studying abroad because you are sure to leave with much more knowledge and experience of the world than when you came.

1 Vince B.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

This organization has allowed me to not only intimately experience places that most people can only dream of seeing, but it has also repeatedly provided me unique opportunities for global citizenship education and global service via didactic hands-on cultural immersion. From building cafeterias at an orphanage in the highlands of Peru to facilitating the rehabilitation of exotic animals at a shelter in Costa Rica and doing English learning workshops with grade school children in both locations, some of my most rewarding experiences are a product of the BLV's dynamic approach to service and learning abroad. They are truely passionate about and dedicated to making the world a brighter place!

1 Prachi P.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Had the incredible opportunity to serve with Bright Light Volunteers in Atenas, Costa Rica. It was truly a one of a kind experience that will stay with me for a lifetime!

1 VolunteerParticipant

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Art is an expression of one’s self. The projects we introduced to the kids at the two schools in Peru were magical to both volunteers and students. Making backpacks from t-shirts, decorating picture frames and having a professional chef teach a cooking class were some of the highlights of this trip.

However, the smiles and joyfulness of all the children was a life changing experience for me. I know our visit impacted the students but the interaction certainly worked both ways.

My most memorable moments were being offered a beautiful rose, upon enter the school yard, next watching a performance of dance and seeing the welcome sign with all the volunteers names on it.

Culturally, I observed a preparation of a meal being cooked in the ground, over hot rocks. Vegetables, fruits, chicken and guinea pig were thrown into the pit. This provided lunch for all the children at the school. They ate out of the new, metal bowls that Bright Light Volunteers bought for the students.

I truly felt like my mission of being a global citizen was accomplished.

1 BellaMCM12

Volunteer

Rating: 5

This program allowed me to gain a whole new perspective when I traveled to Ghana. Through Bright Light I learned to stop thinking of Africa as a collective and to view the many countries on this wide continent as beautiful and diverse. I came to Ghana with stereotypes already in place, all of which were blown away by the beautiful people I met , the delicious food, and the rich culture. Now, whenever someone states a generalized and obtuse statement about Africa, I will use my experiences I gained through Bright Light Volunteers to open their eyes as well.

Previous Stories
1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have volunteered on two programs with Bright Light Volunteers in Cuba and in Ghana. Both were unforgettable, amazing experiences. In Cuba, I met a welcoming people that has struggled to survive through the embargo and the power of their own government. Because of Bright Light I am able combat ignorance and stereotypes within myself and my community.

1 Allison R.1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have traveled and volunteered with BLV to Peru in 2017 and was extremely pleased with the entire experience! I was able to interact and teach local children while also helping with construction of a kitchen for their school. I highly recommend BLV to anyone who is looking to make a difference, and have an amazing time while doing it.

1 heykatie

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Hi! My name is Katie. I traveled with Bright Light Volunteers to Costa Rica in June, 2018. Prior to travel, I enrolled in a course (for 3 hours of college credit) through Bethel University where I learned about the history and culture of Costa Rica, as well as the issue of plastic pollution. Then, in Santa Teresa, I had the opportunity to take action. For example, one of our service projects involved a beach clean up where we collected bags and bags of single-use plastics, which we turned into art! I am currently working on a proposal for my principal requesting that our school eliminate the use of plastic straws in our lunchroom. Through my BLV program, I was educated, immersed, and involved. I believe this program helped me develop global leadership and citizenship skills necessary to make the world a brighter place! Highly recommend!

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

BLV has helped me, as a teacher, connect with students on a deeper and more personal level. Among the obvious lessons and skills learned through the service projects with BLV, students are able to make a connection between body, mind, and soul like never before.

1 Amanda M.6

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I recently completed my third service program with Bright Light Volunteers. Our group went to Costa Rica. We learned a lot about our need to conserve and reduce our use of plastic. We cleaned up beaches of microplastics and implemented permaculture farming at a local high school. This organization puts together the BEST global service learning programs! I highly recommend Bright Light Volunteers!

2 heystacie

Client Served

Rating: 5

I have been partnering with Bright Light Volunteers to facilitate Global Service Learning programs for my high school and college students since 2015. The organization delivers meaningful, sustainable, thoughtful experiences which are designed to facilitate the development of global citizens and leaders. I have not been disappointed! Also, my 100 plus student participants have reported a very high level of satisfaction with the quality of their BLV experiences. Highly recommend!

Previous Stories
1

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I have been traveling and serving nationally and internationally with high school and college students since 2007. I have partnered with a variety of organizations over the years to bring these adventures in service learning to fruition. Bright Light Volunteers, however, stands out among the others.

Programs are customized to meet the needs of the group, projects are sustainable and responsible, and the on-site, in-country leadership is top-notch. Housing is safe and clean, the food is healthy and authentic, and extracurricular activities are designed to further improve understanding of the culture.

Bright Light Volunteers experience true cultural immersion that they report results in a deepened appreciation for others, a better understanding of the interconnectedness of our world (and their place in it), and a stronger desire to serve others. Lives are being changed through these global service learning experiences!

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Visiting two schools in Peru was a life changing experience. Bright Light Volunteers had it completely organized. The trip also included some sightseeing, great traditional meals and meeting new people to share this journey with. There is always a mission with BLV. This time, we helped with a filtration system at one of the schools so that there would be clean, fresh water. Additionally, we bought tin bowls so that eating lunch for the children, would be more sanitary versus plastic plates, that could harbor germs.

The children at the schools enjoyed learning new skills, doing crafts with us, a hygiene lesson when we supplied toothpaste and new brushes and a host of other interactive activities. We brought sports equipment, games, clothing and other essential items for the children.

We experienced a very warm welcome at the school with a performance on their playground. The children's smiles were priceless, precious and plentiful.

Bright Light Volunteers makes a different in the world in a huge way. I highly recommend this way to experience a humanitarian trip. It is a heartwarming adventure and does the soul a lot of good. Making a difference in people's lives is the goal that BLV always accomplishes.

Kudos to the founder, Catherine Greenberg, for all that she does plus allows us volunteers to be global citizens.

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I can not express how amazing this organization is!!!! They allowed me to be apart of an adventure that I thought would never be possible in my life. their support and love for helping others bring aid and services around the world are beyond measure. Thank you Bright Light and keep shining your light of hope to generations to come! Thanks for the life changing experience.

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I went to Santa Teresa, Costa Rica and I absolutely loved it! I loved getting to know more about another culture and to help them with some of the projects that they were working on!

1 Billy.M.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I volunteered in Cuba last October with Bright Light Volunteers! The program was a great way to get to see a part of the world that I normally wouldn't have. The guides hired by BLV were top-notch. The work we did was meaningful. I would highly recommend BLV if you want to travel abroad and volunteer!

1

Client Served

Rating: 5

I joined Bright Light Volunteers on a service learning program to Costa Rica this summer. Getting to travel to Costa Rica, meeting the genuinely nice people there, enjoying the food, surfing, and zip-lining through the jungle were all great experiences. But the best part of it was the work that we did!

Me and 12 other high school students cleaned the beaches of harmful plastics, while learning from a local guide what changes we can make to stop the use of single-use plastics. We also planted and composted at the local school's community permaculture garden.

Prior to our program, we all were enrolled in a dual-enrollment Global Studies online college course that taught us about the history and culture of Costa Rica and how the country is leading the world in ecotourism and conservation.

Since returning from Costa Rica, I have put some of the things I learned to use. I no longer use plastic straws, and I try to limit my use of other plastics as well. Also, my family and I have started our own compost pile and began the process of creating a permaculture garden for next year.

With Bright Light Volunteers, students get a unique experience to travel the world, volunteer, and earn valuable college credit. They are committed to their cause. They are passionate about making the world a brighter place and influencing young people to become the global leaders of tomorrow!

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Bright Light Volunteers is an amazing organization that is doing fantastic things for communities around the world as well as trip participants. I co-led a group of high school students on a service project to Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands. Every detail was very thoroughly researched and planned to ensure a safe and fun adventure for all. Catherine spends the time to find out what the greatest local needs are and develops ways in which Bright Light can give back in the best way possible. The service projects are well organized with all the necessary supplies. She makes sure that the project is meaningful and those funds can be spread as far as possible to have a positive impact locally. While the core of the trip is service, there was also so much opportunity for cultural exploration. The students experienced traditional tourist things as well as local communities and cuisine to really get a feel for the country. The most rewarding part was letting the students take control of and own their projects to gain maximum personal fulfillment at the end when they had achieved their goal. I could see their emotions and perspectives changing when they interacted with the children who have far less than them, but also the personal satisfaction they received from completing their projects to help those children. I think students get more out of volunteering when they can see the faces of the people whose lives they touched. This was a wonderful experience for the students and the leaders and I highly recommend using Bright Light Volunteers!

jgcolor

Volunteer

Rating: 5

My friends and I volunteered with Brite Light in Cuba this year and it was a rewarding experience. Staying within the actual families in the community and sharing stories gave us a real connection. Giving back throughout the trip from Havana to Vinnales was rewarding & to grow those relationships was just a bonus.

Avery G.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

My experience working with Bright Light Volunteers and Adanu during our
Ghana Project metamorphosed the way I will live my life. The exceptional accommodation
and hospitality from each ground member in Ghana gave the group the opportunity to
experience a new country absolutely no travel discrepancies. Every part of the trip ran
smoothly and never failed to entertain us.
Our accommodations were ideal for the experience that The country of Ghana is one of the most hospitable places on the planet. Our encounters and experiences with the Ghanaian people fostered international friendships that will last forever. We entered as naïve Americans wanting to help, and left as family members to each and every village member. Our impact will help their future for education, but their impact will change they way we live our lives in our country.

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I took a group of students to Cuba this summer with Bright Light Volunteers. We had such a great time working on an organic farm in Vinales. There was a great blend of volunteering and cultural activities for our group. Our local guide, Eduardo, made this trip extra special. He was so warm, open, patient, intelligent and he told the best "yokes"! I plan to travel again with Bright Light to Peru next summer as well. Their prices are very affordable and everything was included.

Client Served

Rating: 5

Bright Light Volunteers is truly an amazing program. My students and I wanted a trip that made us feel part of the Cuban culture and this wonderful non-profit helped us do that. My students had the best experience of their life and are still in contact with their host families in Cuba. The Bright Light team is efficient, hardworking, honest, flexible, caring, and truly made everything easier for me as I planned this trip.
There aren’t enough words to explain this wonderful organization. I am just thankful that we were able to be a part of it.
Framary Delacruz
Teacher of Spanish in New Jersey

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I co-lead high school Cuban educational programs for Bright Light Volunteers. I am a lifetime volunteer of youth programs. Bright Light Volunteers is by far the most satisfying nonprofit organization for whom to volunteer. One can see the profound, positive impact it makes on a young mind. Students stretching themselves beyond their comfort zone is life changing. They return home seeing the world differently. Bright Light Volunteers is a 5-Star program.

Board Member

Rating: 5

I’ve had the opportunity to take part in service programs with Bright Light Volunteers, and one of the most rewarding aspects is hearing from volunteers and their loved ones about how their experience volunteering abroad has had a lasting impact on their lives. My life has been similarly changed, and I am grateful for the experiences I’ve shared and the friendships I’ve made as part of programs around the globe.

1

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

Many educators, like myself, seek ways to inspire our students to explore the world and reach out beyond the walls of the classroom. My recent journey to Ghana Africa with 8 high school students was an exciting and rewarding service experience for everyone. BLV provided us with this unique opportunity to immerse ourselves into the lives and hearts of community members in a rural village. We worked side by side with villagers to build a much needed sanitation station and elementary school. My students shared in the daily lives of the village children, playing games, teaching school, cooking with families and learning to weave traditional Kente cloth. Unlike some other organizations BLV staff work diligently to create the travel program that WE WANTED rather than a predetermined set itinerary. Global peace building begins with personal connections and cooperative efforts. BLV shares my passion and vision of making student dreams of international travel and service a reality.

Board Member

Rating: 5

Bright Light Volunteers is a great way to learn about the world. The trip leaders are amazing, and each program is tailored to the interests of the participants and the needs of the local community.

Jeffery Micheal J.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Travelling abroad is something I have always had lust for, and through Bright Light I was able to achieve that and take on several journeys that have changed my life forever. Such as two trips to Cuba and a week in Peru. Bright Light is a company that represents the service we all should be doing. They provide students with the opportunity for college credit as well as many resume building experiences. Not only do they appeal to an academic side, but it also widens the eye to other cultures in order to become more competent. Great company, and great leadership.

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Great group trips to Cuba. Wonderful food, lodging with the people, and service projects. All in-country guides were wonderful. All in-country costs were included. Everything was well planned.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

My daughter had the opportunity to go to Cuba with Bright Light with a group of classmates. My husband and I decided to go as a family and we joined her along with our son on this amazing trip! This experience was one of the best for us. We met the beautiful people of Cuba and enjoyed their great food and conversations with them. We were also able to give back by working on an organic farm. Bright Light Volunteers made everything so easy for us. All we had to do was enjoy the Cuban culture and people. All travel arrangements and activities were well planned and communicated. We always felt safe and well taken care of. We will always remember this trip and look forward to another opportunity to join Bright Light Volunteers on another adventure.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

bright light volunteers is an incredible organization with the mission of creating upcoming world leaders by exposing children to other cultures across the globe...i volunteered with bright light in cuba and the experience was life altering... we were able to be of service to others, but more importantly, we engaged with the beautiful people of cuba. they welcomed us with open arms and made us feel like part of their families. this is what's unique about bright light, our volunteers receive just as much as they give.. this is what begins the ripple effect of awareness and appreciation for other cultures which in turn creates compassion in our volunteers, laying the groundwork for them to become strong, influential leaders. petri b.

Sandy N.1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I traveled with Bright Light to Cuba and this experience changed the way Inwill forever travel. It was a culturally impressive experience that really allowed me to connect with local people, understand their culture, and give back! It was a very rewarding, educational and fun experience. Because of this experience I now look for volunteer opportunities every time I travel.

Amanda M.1

Advisor

Rating: 5

Bright Light Volunteers changed my life! I have volunteered abroad with this organization twice so far. Volunteering abroad really puts poverty into perspective. Global poverty is plaguing our world, and Bright Light Volunteers are helping, one program at a time. During my time volunteering with this organization, my team and I helped farm for local communities, taught English and art to children, donated supplies, and acted as United States Ambassadors, strengthening relationships and bridging cultural divides. I believe all high school students should be given the opportunity to serve abroad so they come back with a greater understanding of their place in the world. Bright Light Volunteers understands that the youth of today will be the leaders of tomorrow, and with some background knowledge in global service learning, they will be well-informed on how to lead us into the future!

Bright Light Volunteers takes care of everything with a minimal program donation. Program participants have no surprise expenses or expectations. They provide safe, comfortable accommodations in local home stays, giving their volunteers a chance to immerse themselves in the culture of the host families. The food is authentic and plentiful. Cultural excursions are relevant to the learning experience. And the staff are friendly, knowledgeable, and accommodating.

I've researched others, and Bright Light Volunteers is THE best service learning, volunteer abroad organization out there!

Client Served

Rating: 5

Bright Light Volunteers has organized incredible service learning trips for my high school students to Cambodia, Peru, Greece, Ecuador and the Galapagos. We’ve taught English to monks, built shelters for animals, provided supplies to refugees, improved school infrastructures, constructed a waterwell, and contributed significantly to reforestation efforts to name just a few projects. I’ve watched my students’ lives literally be transformed from these programs. They become true global citizens who are committed to make the world a brighter place. Forever grateful to BLV.