Welcome to GOAT Volunteers! I’m Justin, the founder of this small volunteer placement agency. After spending nearly a decade in the corporate world (ugh!), I decided to give up my comfortable, yet unfulfilling lifestyle. I wanted a life of adventure while making the world a better place. Consequently, I started volunteering and this is where I found my passion in altruism.
Partway through my first year of traveling, I found out that the placement agency I was volunteering through in Spain added a 20% markup to the program fee in addition to their registration fee. When I complained about this, their response was “nowhere on our website does it say all of the program cost goes to the project.” Now, I understand a business’ need to make money, but this made me angry. So much so, that I came up with the idea to create a volunteer placement agency based on ethical business practices and full transparency. This would give me the ability to achieve my overall goal of making a more extensive, positive impact on the planet. And so, GOAT Volunteers was born!
Why the GOAT?
Volunteering abroad is a challenging but wildly rewarding endeavor that anyone can benefit from. The inspiration for the name came from a small plastic goat figurine that my middle sister (who loves goats) gave me to take on my around-the-world volunteering journey. The goat is a great symbolic figure of a volunteer — they stand on unknown and unsteady grounds with confidence. Plus, a herd of goats can also be called a “trip”…and I thought that was a fun coincidence!
The acronym G.O.A.T. is often used in sports and entertainment. It stands for “Greatest of All Time”. While I’d love to say that about this agency someday, the truth is we’re just getting started. This breed of GOAT is a bit different; it stands for Global Opportunities for Altruistic Travel.
To learn more about why you should consider trusting GOAT Volunteers to facilitate your volunteering adventure, check out the Why GOAT page.
Providing individuals with altruistic opportunities to make a positive impact on the world through ethical volunteering projects.
GOAT Volunteers’ vision is to promote international social engagement while maintaining a commitment to ethical endeavors that improve communities and the environment.
Who is Justin?
Born and raised in Titusville, Pennsylvania (USA), I’ve lived in several states including Pennsylvania, Iowa, New York, Virginia and now Colorado. I received a BS in Business Management from Rochester Institute of Technology in 2004, as well as an MBA with a concentration in Marketing from the the Joseph M. Katz Graduate School of Business at the University of Pittsburgh in 2015. I’ve also earned Project Management Professional (PMP) and Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) certifications. You’re welcome to check out my resume / CV on LinkedIn if you’d like a glimpse at my professional background.
Prior to starting my around-the-world journey, I worked as an operations manager for an outsourced business services company in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. I spent most of the past decade working in managerial roles with forays into sales, marketing, and project management. Most of this time I was simply chasing bigger paychecks. But, like the Notorious B.I.G. said, “Mo Money, Mo Problems”. As paychecks grew, so did my bills and my unhappiness. I decided that if I wanted to be happy, travel was the best way to do so. That led me to sell my house, car, and belongings, quit my job, and set out on an around-the-world adventure. It was been the best decision of my life and I’m infinitely more happy than I was before…even if I didn’t get to eat as many steaks or always have access to hot water.
Currently, I’m living in Denver, Colorado and working as a project manager for a small digital marketing agency (to pay off those student loans) while also running GOAT Volunteers (to fulfill my altruistic needs). I’m also taking advantage of the incredible hiking, countless breweries, and local volunteering opportunities here when I’m not working.
Justin: the Volunteer
My travels have taken me to over 40 countries and I’ve volunteered in several of them. I have lived the life of a traveling volunteer, so I understand many of the challenges you’ll face as well as some of the feelings of joy and accomplishment. I have personally volunteered with many of the NGOs represented by GOAT Volunteers on various projects. These experiences allow me to personally vouch for the quality of most of the NGOs that GOAT Volunteers works with. Hopefully, I will eventually volunteer on them all or have a trusted GOAT Ambassador do so in my stead.
On this website, projects that I have personally volunteered on are “Featured Projects”. I provide a review of each project as well as my highlights, challenges, surprises, and frustrations as a way of giving prospective volunteers some personal insight.