Giving back. Paying forward.
Glenda Hills has been in the travel industry for 21 years and has done mission work through her nonprofit organization, Millennium Sistahs Inc., for almost as long.
Early on Glenda worked as a social worker, and arranged travel for her team and student volunteers. She was often asked to book for church groups or a friend’s family reunion. After years of time and effort, a friend suggested Glenda make her living as a travel agent. Glenda agreed, and began studying the travel industry more intently. She officially started HH Luxury & Mission Travel in 2007.
Millennium Sistahs Inc. was established in 1997 and incorporated in 1999 by Glenda, a Trinidadian and missionary, to provide services to women and their families. The organization provides free preventive medical care in the United States, the Caribbean and Africa, and will soon work on South America; it donates toys, clothing and medical supplies to individuals and other agencies.
The organization’s services comprise programs such as a Medical Missionary Program, Community Food Pantry, a Back to School Program and a Baby Beginnings Layette Program. Low-cost airfares are available to missionaries and volunteers through its Mission Travel Service. Millennium Sistahs Inc. works cooperatively with other organizations and supporters. It is run entirely by volunteers, who come from social service agencies, schools, churches and other groups.
“Years ago, in Trinidad and Tobago, where I am from, there was a shortage of sheets and supplies in the hospital. Someone from Trinidad called and asked if I could get sheets donated from where I was employed at that time.” Glenda asked staff and was successful. More people began to call. She kept asking and sending. The expense was too much for her, yet she loved what she did. “It was like God had awakened something with me. I always say that he turned on a ‘volunteer switch.’”
Millennium Sistahs Inc., took on a life of its own. The organization’s tag line is “A Million Women, A Million Children, A Million Chances”—those they hope to serve. Glenda’s latest venture is a community store, Pandora’s Treasure Corner Boutique, whose sales go toward Millennium Sistahs Inc. community programs. The boutique carries only brand-name new items, offered at 50 – 70 percent off suggested retail prices, every day.
“Giving back or paying forward can make someone’s life go in a different direction.”
Glenda feels it important to give back. “Although we all face life challenges and think about how tough our life is, there’s always someone who has to face or has faced challenges tougher than ours.” Her perspective is changed by things she’s seen while doing mission work and volunteering.
“Giving back totally is a selfless act—where you give or hand over, nothing happens, you don’t expect anything back. There are no benefits for you—no recognition, nothing gets sent your way, no tax exemptions. Nothing.” Your biggest and only reward may be waking up one morning and realizing you’ve made a significant or positive change in someone’s life.
“It takes a single act of kindness, and it can change someone else’s life forever.”
Written by Amy L Charles.