05/07/2013 01:17 pm ET Updated Jul 06, 2013

A "Volunteer Vacation"

Catalyst Foundation has had amazing volunteers since July 1999. We have enlisted the help of hundreds of people from around the globe -- ones that found us during a random Internet searches, families that have adopted from Vietnam, young Vietnamese American college and high school students, war veterans, teachers and friends.

Our volunteers help us during sleepless nights at "Vietnam Culture Camp", coordinate fundraising events, design websites, take photographs, create videos for public relations, spread the news about us on social media, write grants or all of the above and more!!

More than 200 volunteers from the U.S., Australia, Singapore, Scotland, United Kingdom, France, Spain, Thailand, Korea, Japan, Belgium, and Canada, have traveled to Vietnam for the Aid Expedition. The "Vietnam Aid Expedition" is a good will, volunteer trip to provide direct assistance to the communities we serve in Vietnam. Our volunteers are required to fundraise and collect donations from their friends and families so that they can build schools and libraries, constructed playgrounds and new homes, raise gardens, distribute food, clothes and donated toys, chaperone field trips for hundreds on the beach, teach self defense classes, and provide basic medical examinations.

One of our "Aid Expedition" volunteers, Kevin Schmidt, sums up his experience in Vietnam.

"This trip really helped to pull humanity into focus for me. It gave me an appreciation for all that I have, all the opportunities I've had, and for the simple things in life. I didn't know how a smile from a child who was excited that you even noticed her could make you feel so good about life. They had so much strength and hope in their was just humbling. One of those rare moments in life when you're consciously aware of something amazing going on around you, something wonderful that you are in the center of and experiencing first-hand.

The kids have to know that we don't necessarily struggle for food, and yet they still put food in your bowl any chance they can get. They are so selfless; they give us gifts even though they don't have any money. They are incredible individuals. They are so respectful of you and each other.

It was very hard to see some of the poverty that we saw, some of the hurt we could see in the eyes of the kids when we learned about what happened to their parents. It's hard to even think about it now. You were right when you said this trip would be life changing in some way. I think I look at life in a different way now and probably always will. Thanks for letting me be a part of it."

For a few days our community is strengthened by our volunteers who overcome the language barrier by holding a child's hand, giving a hug to a sick grandma, sharing a meal with family, dancing or just taking the time to play with them.

It is a blessing to see these wonderful volunteers return to their lives but something has changed. For everyone it is something different but luckily for us almost all become impassioned about Catalyst Foundation's mission.

We know that our volunteers have never forgotten their time with us. They return back to their homes with a new appreciation for the blessing they have; some changed their degree or went back to university for another degree to work helping others; some changed careers to continue making a difference; some find new meaning in their own culture and heritage; some have adopted children from Vietnam; some have moved to Vietnam; some returned to focus on helping other children in their own communities, and some even return every year to spend their vacations with our kids. Many even return on later expeditions and bring friends. I have several supporters that were on the first "Aid Expeditions" and were on the very last one that build a cafeteria to feed the children.

We believe that everyone can make difference. We believe that each one of us can be a CATALYST for HOPE.

YOU can make a difference -- learn more today...