Southern’s Voluntourism Program
Volunteer on Vacation with Southern Vacation Rentals
Are you looking for ways to volunteer on vacation? “Voluntourism” opportunities are popping up all along the country now, and the Gulf Coast is no exception. Voluntourism allows visitors to give back to a local community they may be visiting on vacation. This includes volunteering at animal refugees, helping clean up our beautiful beaches, or dedicating some time to a local school or non-profit.
Since our Southern team is so active in the community through our Southern Cares program and Volunteers in Action, we wanted to give our guests a chance to give back too! That’s why we launched our Voluntourism Initiative. We’re excited to celebrate our 25th anniversary by giving back to the communities that support us. We’re proud to live and work along the Gulf Coast; this is our home, too! Learn more about some of the ways below you can volunteer on vacation while visiting the Gulf Coast.
If you’re staying in a 30A vacation rental, then you won’t want to miss out on the chance to volunteer at Alaqua Animal Refuge. Located in Freeport and about a half-hour drive from Santa Rosa Beach, Alaqua provides protection, shelter, and care to animals in need. They also advocate for animal welfare through educational outreach and community programs. This incredibly rewarding experience allows you to work closely and play with the animals, help at special events, and assist other volunteers with office work.
During your vacation in Destin, take some time to volunteer with the Choctawhatchee Basin Alliance. This non-profit promotes swimmable, fishable waterways in the community through monitoring, education, restoration, and research. Volunteers can garden for oysters, monitor water quality, create reef breakwaters, and more. In addition, the Choctawhatchee Basin Alliance is introducing a new bird-watching initiative for volunteers to monitor native Emerald Coast birds – coming soon!
You can also volunteer on vacation in Fort Walton Beach with the Emerald Coast Science Center. If you’re traveling with kids, they’ll love this interactive experience that puts science at their fingertips and also allows them to meet some incredible creatures. The center promotes STEM education and public outreach in Okaloosa County. Volunteer activities include exhibit development and maintenance, caretaker opportunities, and more!
Stay in one of our Panama City Beach vacation rentals and spend some time volunteering at Friends of Camp Helen State Park. This is a Citizen Support Organization dedicated to preserving, maintaining, and improving the park through volunteer projects, community events, and fundraising. You can volunteer with them every Thursday during their Volunteer Workday from 9 AM – 12 PM. Volunteers focus on maintenance and natural resource management in the park.
Meanwhile, if you’re staying in a Pensacola Beach or Perdido Key vacation rental, you can partake in the Keep Pensacola Beautiful initiative. The program works to educate citizens and visitors to Escambia County to take action and beautify the area. In addition to cleaning over 80 parks and boat ramps, they also focus on beautification, recycling, and litter awareness and prevention.
Another foundation we love to support is the Mattie Kelly Arts Foundation in Destin. Their mission is to build the foundation of art and culture in the community. Known for its cultural events and children’s educational outreach program, Mattie Kelly Arts Foundation also partners with over 50 schools in Northwest Florida to deliver a diverse art education curriculum.
Voluntourism isn’t all we do to give back! We also donate regularly to the Alzheimer’s Association and Ronald McDonald House of Northwest Florida and also give guests the opportunity to donate at the time of booking.