meet the real people from our office who are out there making a difference!
Follow the Leader; Shannon Wentworth, Co Founder of Sweet Vacations, a lesbian tour company with a focus on improving each community they visit.
1. What prompted you to start Sweet?
My business partner Jen Rainin and I wanted to transform the profound sadness and smallness we felt after watching “An Inconvenient Truth” into a solution for global warming that is fun and hopeful. More people will do the right thing, if it’s fun and easy. Plus it feels good to do good. We really want to increase the global optimism. We think that’s the key to solving most of the world’s problems.
2. What is your favorite aspect of owning this company?
Everything. Because we are mission-based, we attract the most passionate and compassionate people who are a joy and pleasure to serve. I love our guests.
3. How do you decide what the philanthropic mission is going to be each tour?
We ask. We find people in the communities we’re going to visit and ask what they need. Typically, we try to help the environment, animals, women and children, not in that order.
4. Out of the many good things Sweet has done for the communities it’s visited, which one has given you the most satisfaction?
I love a good beach clean up because you can really see a huge difference and get in a nice workout, but it’s the projects where we get to interact with locals that really fill my heart. The people we partner with overcome amazing obstacles to be able to provide the services they provide. On our last trip to Isla Mujeres, I really got to work with the locals who are trying to curb and care for the island’s feral cats. We trapped, neutered, vaccinated and de-flea’d 21 feral cats. It was a three-day project. The women who help the cats are amazing and they sacrifice a lot of their personal comfort to take care of the cats night after night. Dr. Delfino, the veteranarian, let me assist in several of the surgeries and it was amazing. He speaks Spanish, I can order Mexican food, but we managed to communicate flawlessly because our hearts were in the same place. It’s truly magical what happens when people connect on our community service projects.
I love when I get to hang out with the kids and talk to them about their lives and hopes and dreams. I’ve met so many wonderful children in my travels as well, but our project at the children’s learning center in Roatan, Honduras, was so special for me. These two baby daughters of a teen mom would not let me put them down. I carried them around for hours, which I was happy to do because it totally beats painting. The love we feel wherever we go is phenomenal.
5. O.K. you know I have to ask, what’s the funniest travel mishap that has occurred on these trips?
Hmm, we haven’t had many mishaps. We’ve had some really cool things happen, like Meredith Baxter coming on our first cruise and being inspired by Suzanne Westenhoefer to come out of the closet to Matt Lauer on “The Today Show.” Oh, and I met the amazing Dr. Denny, who has helped me reduce the pain in my neck from bulging discs. Hooray!