Commit to BE THE CHANGE!

Quiet Your Mind; Soothe Your Soul Pt.1

A little over three weeks ago I drove six hours to a foreign land where just after a week I left a piece- a large piece- of my heart. In about 20 minutes, I packed a few clothing items, tossed in some camping cookware and firewood, stopped to top of the tank and was headed west. My directions included four highways, about 400 miles and relentless unforgettable landscapes until I would reach destination- Moab, Utah. Unbeknown to me, my body, mind and spirit would be changed forever. Now, I know I am a traveler but I could never have anticipated this magnitude of an indescribable experience I was about to endure.

No, I didn’t set out to ‘soul search’ and I wasn’t trying to ‘find myself’ like many others would claim, rather I accepted the invitation by my good friend Lindsey which simply put was to ‘jump on rocks and howl at the moon.’ (Yes, that is exactly what we did!) The miles ahead lay quickly behind me as did the plethora of CD’s filtering through my speakers. I crossed the (boring) border into Utah and was quickly winding down ‘river road.’ As my distance to the city decreased, my excited vocal exclamations increased in view of each passing red rock formation. As I followed through the last stretch I was able to compose myself before stepping out to stretch my legs and meeting Lindsey at the Moab Brewery, trying not to look like this season’s ‘new-comer.’

It was nice to see Lindsey as always, thus it had been a couple weeks since surfing our couch- but prior to that it had been a winter’s passing since we had seen her last. Lindsey had met a fellow hiker (Nathan) who would be joining us over the next few days and- little did we know- adds some humor along the way.  We discussed over a pint to make a plan not to plan the next week that was ahead. Instead, we would see where each rising sun would lead us- and oh, how it turned out to be the best plan of all! We tipped our hats and our ‘tender and headed to the campsite about 10 miles north of town.

Following the brake lights faithfully through the dust and rocky trail, I was exceedingly impressed by my Subaru who had just rolled over 230,000 miles. (Apparently I missed the memo about some silver Toyota Tundra club, noted in the photo.) Shifting to park for the night, we stepped out and met the fourth member of the glee club- Kyle- who was resting after having a hard fall off his mountain bike a couple days prior. Like clock-work we set up camp, fashioned a fire and drew near to the heat. Kyle & Lindsey, guitar and banjer in hand bantered vocals and strums till the massive moon arose and the flames set down. My pearly whites couldn’t help but make me realize I was still awake and indeed was living a dream… TO BE CONTINUED..


Hey readers! Thank you for following Unexpected Moments of Magic Panama Volunteer Journals. My name is Josh and I am the social media and marketing intern for UMMP and would like to personally invite you to check out our website where you can become a volunteer today. At UMMP we care passionately about volunteering in the local community of beautiful Boquete, Panama and are seeking talented & dedicated individuals to join an experience of a lifetime! If you feel that you have what it takes to ‘Be the Change’ feel free to contact myself or Kaytee our Founder & CEO. Visit our Facebook page and ‘Like’ us for more frequent information on our one-of-a-kind program placement & volunteer opportunities. Stay tuned for Pt. 2 of my amazing journey to the desert where perhaps my experience will bring you some enlightenment & confidence in ‘change.’


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Generation of Change..

My  family knows me best as the traveler however, with the assistance of my gracious mother purchasing a round-trip plane ticket, my newly 18 year old bigger-little brother had the pleasure of spending his spring break with me in my neck of the woods, or mountains for that matter! Taner will be graduating high school come this June and, like myself at that age, was exploring the uncertainties of what do with his life afterward. Torn between culinary arts school and the busy ‘dog-eat-dog’ world of work, I began to reflecting on my yester-years spent enrolled in college, working and traveling; together, discussing the opportunities in volunteerism & travel..(muahaha!)

Looking across to the passenger seat, I listened as Taner caught me up on what he has been up to for the last 3 years since I had moved. Muddling through the oh-so-familiar separation from living under mom’s roof, I was seeing the younger version of me right before my eyes. All of my brothers had different situations at this stage in life and I wanted to let Taner know that he could rely on me as role-model and someone to confide in, something that I had wished for at that age. Having gone through our own struggles in life, we all lead different lives according what matters to us most. It’s hard being 1,000 miles away to offer support but thank goodness for today’s technological devices, well for most of them allowing them to bridge the gaps.

Having grown up in a small town in central Minnesota, I have always possessed the desire to see ‘what else’ is out there. I would admire National Geographic images and articles in magazines and all but think how wonderful it would be, just to have the opportunity. I wanted to experience more than the flat land, harsh winters and drenchingly-humid summers. Even if I wasn’t fond of a place, at least I would know for myself! (I could feel this sense in every aspect of Taner’s monologue.) I wanted to experience it all- the culture, the language, religion and customs of that ‘somewhere else.’

When I was about 8 years old, Taner being about 2, we took a family road trip to 13 states in 18 days (this was when there were only 5 boys in my family..). Although I don’t remember much, I can say that I have visited many western states. Getting older, I joined two of my brothers and my grandmother on an 8 day cruise down the Alaskan coast from Juneau to Vancouver (it was quite awe-inspiring). I have more pictures of floating glacier chunks than anyone could ever want– I used 9 rolls of film in 8 days. Besides a here and there spur trip to Texas or Wisconsin, I didn’t have another big trip until back-packing Costa Rica in January ’11 and, I knew I was in love with adventure..

I was never one to follow conventional thus traditional routines even more so of pursuing a degree straight out of high school, especially not knowing what I wanted to do with my life. I wanted to let Taner know that seeking secondary education was a serious choice considering years of his life plus the cost of receiving a degree, yet he is the only one in control if his journey. Equally as important are the serious decisions in life choices that get you through day-to-day. He knows how I had attended 1 year of online courses and finding that school just didn’t work for me at that time, I allowed myself to fall in the rut of the 9-5. On the flip side, my twin brother double majored in psychology and Spanish and has sought comfort in routine work- life. Like I said, we carry the variety in all aspect in our family!

Perhaps our generation is beginning to fall away from the traditional ways of what you are ‘supposed’ to do according to history yet I believe “Men do not learn a lot from the lessons of history, and that perhaps, is the most important lesson of all.”(Aldus Huxley) Meaning, why is (general) society so against exploring and seeking and volunteering and so focused instead on taking on debt, struggling to find a job to pay it off as rates and percentages are inflated beyond attainable levels? I could go on and on but don’t want any trouble but really- I encourage young adults to reconsider their life choices and view their goals and aspirations under daylight in making them real, not just a scribble on a wall-tacked piece of paper illuminated by night stand’s lamp..


P.S. I strongly encourage travel and volunteering! Contact us today to get started on your journey 🙂

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Price of Peace

A couple weeks ago I donated some time to a state park near my hometown doing some spring cleaning of the campsites to ready the grounds for the new season being carried in with the wind. I drove 10 minutes south on the highway, stepped out of my car and was met with a rake and a pair of gloves. As the park truck pulled away I took a moment to take in the scenery.

I looked east as the sun was just peeking over the horizon shedding its warm- welcoming light upon the  passive yet present clouds. The lake’s crisp morning breeze swept across the dormant earth, cautiously approaching me whilst soaking the bottoms of my lungs. Leaves danced and fumbled with excitement like a child on it’s parents morning bed, and the branches of Cottonwoods sway gentle as it’s sound. Snow-capped mountains (reminding me it was indeed still winter) and belittled Rockie’s foothills held the western ground, solid as it looked. True blue skies made out the illustrative scenic landscape, complimenting the contrast of the green Ponderosa Pines. Almost tripping over my rake I found my feet back on the ground and a day’s work lay ahead of me..

Using my peripheral vision to soak in the rest, I walked to the bench and set my water bottle down, slid into my gloves and let my smile present itself. Turning on some music I got to it, easily falling into the rhythm of  my uppity southern-soul bluegrass tunes. To myself I wondered, “Who couldn’t love this? and I get to be here all day?” I couldn’t help but think on a Monday like that day, how many people were driving, grudgingly to their 9-5 to sit at their desk in a cement building; thus inside walls away from the ‘outside world.’ Then I remember that I too, for a few years was tied to a lifestyle that I thought was ‘necessary’ to survive. I understand people make a living by bringing home a paycheck but at what price could buy you peace like this?

I think of volunteering as an opportunity to create a balance in life itself. Work is work and we do what we must but we should never feel that we aren’t in control of finding that balance that ultimately brings happiness and fulfillment to one’s life. If experiences are what makes a person who they are, shouldn’t we experience as much as we can? And what better way then offering your time, skills and interests alongside others- creating memories, relationships and lasting change in your life, not to mention others’ along the way?

I kept time by the trees and their shadows like the minute and hour hand of a clock. My rake strokes soon brought piles of twigs and leaves to piles, lining the road like a neighborhood of beaver’s dams. I would stop and taking my placement all in again, sometimes giving myself a little pinch just to make sure. After lunch I looked across the water and saw three bald eagles stalled in the wind. They soon were over head as distance took them away. –Birds amaze me, as any of my friends would tell you. (sorry, side tangent) They often remind me that life is a journey and sometimes you just gotta fly with it. As my day came to a close I was praised by the park staff having said, ‘most people don’t have as much diligence as you..’ And I just thought, if each person would make their 9-5 something they enjoy, maybe more would find that diligence…

-Josh Villaverde

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Read Sean’s beautiful entry!

Structured Roots

Went to my first real yoga class today. Took a test at Habla Ya, the local language school, and felt awesome on the pre-test because I knew almost all the answers – that is, until the cute teacher took me into an upstairs room to give me a private ‘demo lesson.’ Of all the times for my Spanish to fail me. At least I understood everything she said, which was quite a bit. After that five-minute infatuation, which I knew even then I wouldn’t follow up on, simply because I don’t have $250 a week to drop on formal conversation and the tendency to be corrected every six and a half words, I met the lady whose property I’ll be working on for most of my volunteer project. The family from Vail and Martha’s Vineyard haunted the pretty coffeeshop in the Floridaesque plaza, friendly as bees and birds, buzzing on…

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My volunteer reflections…

Each one of the UMMP volunteers come to us in different ways, some find us online, some are sent to us through Global Volunteer Network, some stumble upon a flyer or see our sign. However you find us and whatever draws you to participate, we are grateful to have you and we pray to continue to attract such amazing individuals into the program.

This is a new time for UMMP and many changes are happening. It is like UMMP has a personality on it’s own and each year it grows just as we do. This year is a year of growth for UMMP, we are taking many steps to get the word out to the world about our programs and have some amazing people helping us to do that, including each and every one of our volunteers.

Right now we have an inspiring group of volunteers. Each one of them has something special to offer to the program. To name a few: Heather is the type of person you can talk to for hours, not about the weather, but about life & the complexities. She is interested in exploring what life has to offer and lives it to the fullest. Sean is a seeker of truth and light and is on an amazing journey of finding himself and sharing himself with others. He always seems to have a smile on his face and loves learning about he local culture and language. Cherokee is a young, fun, open minded individual who is dedicated to helping others. She came to Panama and fit right in. Jessica, who is the daughter of another very special volunteer of ours, is a super positive, flexible spirit who is always a pleasure to be around. Chuck is an entrepreneur that is full of ideas and inspirers me with his dedication to health & connection with the local community and of course his willingness to work hard! Then there is Josh who has been a blessing to UMMP. Even though I have never actually met him face-to-face, I have thoroughly enjoyed working with him on the marketing for UMMP. He is a kindhearted man who is truly passionate about volunteering! I look forward to meeting him in March in Panama! Thank you Josh!

I could go on and on about the amazing volunteers we have, but I will end this post by saying, thank you. Each one of you teach me something new about myself, inspire me to move forward to increase volunteer opportunities for others, and most importantly, support me to be the change I wish to see in the world. UMMP is nothing without you and neither am I. Whether you are here with us now on your volunteer journey, have already departed Panama or are planing to come, you are a part of this volunteer family and together we learn and grow through service.

Kaytee Hoverson, UMMP Founder & Director

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Young to Old, Big to Small

Here I sit in a lively coffee shop, observing the collaborative ambiance and subtle audience dabble in shallow conversations, classical jazz music in the background and a blank screen coming alive with each “click-clack” coming from my keyboard. My friend Andy sitting across the booth flips aimlessly through his stack of books, searching for his ‘moment of magic’; hoping he’ll find his purpose and calling for his own journey. Reflecting in my own experiences, I recall fond memories spent with my grandma back in Minnesota. We would spend sun-up to sun down, working in the garden, constructing projects and re-organizing the landscape to fit the new selection of plants fresh from Dan & Jerry’s green house. Through her work, we would sign up to do ‘green thumb’ projects and volunteer with Hearts & Hammers and Volunteers of America. Although this may be the beginning of my now peaked interest in volunteering, there have been far more advancements in this topic than I could have imagined in those innocent years.

I have spent well over 100 hours planning, researching and organizing volunteer opportunities through my previous employer. As the volunteer and donation coordinator, I assumed responsibility in collaborating with local organizations big and small including the police department, parks services and United Way of Larimer County. I enjoyed reaching out to these organizations and coming together, ultimately forming and carrying outa plans to better our community. With each project I found satisfaction through completion as I do through all my work. Winterizing trees and shrubs, adding mulch and trim to the parks, painting low-income housing fences, and even library makeovers brought me a sense of ‘wholeness’ if you will. The sense of team work demonstrates how helping hands can transform a park, a library or a neighborhood into an inviting and functional space for all who pass to enjoy.It is within the experience that we find our selves in our own moments of magic that we cherish throughout our service-filled lives.

Becoming the social media and marketing director intern through UMMP is a way I actively bridge the gap between those willing and  helping hands with an amazing organization that understands what it truly means to volunteer.  With each volunteer that signs up for program placement, my passion for volunteerism and ‘being the change’ is carried out. Seeing the smiles on children’s faces as we pulled up to a school is reflected through the pictures of success from UMMP. Both in past and present, my life has constantly been transformed and enlightened, even as I watch the programs and their futures unfold. It is my hope that all populations from young to old and big to small find their Unexpected Moment of Magic. UMMP is a great way to start, so why not sign up today 🙂


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Full Steam Ahead!..

Hey there readers!

Thanks for coming back for an update on a wild week through UMMP volunteer journals. Last week as I made my debut to UMMP, I was lost as to where to begin. Finally putting my first post out there lead me to understand that “We are the Change” of the future we would like to see and by joining Unexpected Moments of Magic Panama volunteer organization, you too can Be the Change! 

Covering last week, I made a goal of reaching 500 ‘likes’ on our Facebook page as a way our fans could spread the good of UMMP. I was blown away at the overwhelming and much appreciated support that was rallied through YOU! Coming up to our goal at a rapid rate, I was forced to ‘up the ante’ in hopes to double our goal by close of the weekend. Starting out at just 174 ‘likes’ to today being over 630, it is proven that we all recognize the strength in social media. Although we have yet to reach 1,000 but knowing we will, I ask that we continue to spread the word of opportunity to volunteer internationally with UMMP.

Additionally, last week I introduced our ‘hot off the press’ designed window decals from Buddie Badges Custom Window Decals. These images, originally created by our Founder Kaytee Hoverson were transformed into a peel and stick image that is easily placed in any window you desire. We will be giving out two of the decals to our winners of the contest where we asked each of you to get as many of your friends to like our page. I am tallying up the support and will announce the winners soon. These window decals are a way to support UMMP through raising awareness of the program to you and your community. We invite you to share our information and homepage with those friends, ultimately signing up for the chance to “Be the Change.” Image“Visit our homepage and click the ‘Donate’ tab to place your order for our new window decals. Colors available include blue, pink and white (Black background is not included in the actual image). Support UMMP international volunteer opportunities today!”

ImageAs I take on another week in the social media and marketing world, I will be putting together a power-point presentation that illustrates the programs available, testimonials and the excitement of a program from beginning to end. This short power-point will be viewable through all of our media outlets as well as any business meetings I will attend. I hope this endeavor will add to the increasing number of volunteers signed up as that is my ultimate goal through all of my projects! Stay tuned for a mid-week update through a short story about my adventures…


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Nice to meet you..

Greetings Readers, my name is Josh!

Like most bloggers, I had questioned where I should begin my introduction being the newest member to UMMP as the Social Media & Marketing intern.  Over a week’s time, I was constantly lost  in each ‘beginning’ that lead up to the point of where and how I got to where I am today. Still not knowing exactly where to start, it became clear; its not about the beginning, its about the end or future, right?  Unexpected Moments of Magic Panama uses  “Be the Change” and “We are the Change” as their catch phase and purpose. I love this because change, by definition means to make the form, nature, content or future course of something different from what it is,  from what it would be if left alone.

“I agreed to partner with UMMP because I am the change, too, and I want to see the future of volunteerism grow inside of every individual as it has in me; ultimately changing the future.”

I’m not using a future reference to cop-out of giving you a little background about myself, which will come in time, instead I will maintain my focus on updating this blog with current updates and where our program is heading in addition to explaining how I am the change through volunteering. Currently living in the foothills of Colorado, I am able to keep in touch with Kaytee and the volunteers through each media site we oversee.  UMMP is a way for me to keep in touch with my passion for volunteering internationally, from a distance. I can’t wait for the day I anxiously arrive at the Starfish Volunteer House to continue my active service. My goal is to constantly update and advocate for UMMP and the change they are making not only in the lives of less fortunate communities of Panama, but equally in the lives of each and every volunteer. For those of you who need a little catch-up on what exactly UMMP is all about, please visit our website ( Here is an excerpt from UMMP’s Founder and Executive Director, Kaytee Hoverson:

“What volunteering brings out in people is profound. It has been a magical experience watching each & everyone of you grow over the years. I have watched followers become leaders, dreams be defined, passions be discovered and goals be set & accomplished! 

We have laughed together, cried together and been there for each other through this process we call life. Thank you for sharing these magical moments with the community of Boquete, the place I call home, and myself. I am so grateful to have you in my life.”

~Kaytee Hoverson
Founder & Executive Director

I can’t express how grateful I feel to be a part of such an amazing organization that possesses the dedication, determination and Change we need and want to see. Each program opportunity that UMMP offers allow world class individuals to experience a change of a lifetime. We invite you all to “Be the change” by becoming a volunteer today- whether you start within your community or a friends’ or familys’ neighborhood, we hope to see you in the future. Please ‘like’ our Facebook page to spread what is good! Stay tuned for next week’s update!


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One of my favorite quotes!

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brillant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of the Universe. Your playing small does not serve the world. There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of the Universe that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. As we let our light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we’re liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

Marianne Williamson

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UMMP Volunteer Journals

The Unexpected Moments of Magic Panama Volunteer Program

At UMMP we are dedicated to you, our volunteers. Our desire is to create a friendly, open & trusting environment where you can explore yourself while serving others.

Volunteering with UMMP is not about coming to Panama to change the world. Rather, it is about coming to Panama to change yourself. We believe the best way we can create change in this world is to create change within ourselves. By serving others, it teaches us to be selfless & grateful. By donating our resources, it teaches us to be benevolent & generous. By experiencing another culture, it opens our hearts & eyes to new ideas & ways of being human. By working with people in challenging situations, we gain a new perspective on things we may be taking for granted in our own life. By putting ourselves outside our comfort zone, it teaches us to overcome our fears. By challenging ourselves to do something different, we build confidence in ourselves & in our abilities to fulfill our hopes & dreams.

The volunteering itself will not change your life, but the experience in its entirety will.

While learning about yourself, you get the opportunity to brighten a child’s day and put smiles on their faces. To teach an eager student something new by sharing your knowledge with them. To connect with someone of a different culture helping you to realize, we are one. To learn new ways of communicating while learning another language. To help a child to forget for a moment that they have cancer. To hold a motherless baby. To be there for someone in the good times and the bad. To lead & be an example for others. And most importantly, to empower them to fulfill their dreams & goals.

We connect you with the opportunity, you create the experience. Join us as we learn & grow together united for a brighter tomorrow.

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