BALTIMORE — By the time she began formulating plans for her nonprofit three years ago, Patti Smith had already decided to visit underdeveloped regions in Costa Rica where she observed many of the local children and their families who lacked important resources.
The former news director and talk show host was inspired to help families by encouraging travel and tourism in those regions by writing about what she termed were the magnificent settings of those areas and getting the word out to others.
Today, after traveling to locations like Sweden, Denmark, Paris and Italy and having her “eyes opened to the arts and history of those places,” Smith’s nonprofit, Serenity Expeditions, is seeking to help Baltimore children learn the uniqueness and appreciate the importance of culture and heritage.
“I started this in my mind about three years ago. I thought we could make a difference for the children here and do trips first to places like Washington and New York,” Smith said. “I want the children to understand the importance of heritage and the importance of recognizing similarities and differences, because those are the things that will help them get along with other individuals and it will also provide them a sense of accomplishment.”
Smith says her program will begin by taking up to 10 children on trips to broaden their horizons and help to provide them a sense of accomplishment and understanding.
The mission of Serenity Expeditions is to promote world citizenship, inter-cultural exchange, and diplomacy through travel partnerships, according to Smith.
When given a better understanding and respect for the varied differences and similarities, the world can grow together harmoniously, Smith said.
The vision for Serenity Expeditions is to involve at-risk students while inspiring them to have the ambition to learn, the perseverance to achieve any goal in life; as they communicate their experiences of travel with their peers and the world.
The organization will host a “Taste of Serenity” fundraiser on Sunday, June 28, 2015 from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. at Groveton Green Clubhouse in Owings Mills that will include foods from various countries, a raffle and silent auction.
Proceeds will benefit Serenity Expeditions mission to promote cultural harmony throughout the world by promoting history, environmental awareness, culture, tourism, youth relations, and recreation of UNESCO heritage site locations throughout the world.
“Bringing a better understanding and mutual respect of these areas, creates world harmony while allowing at risk students the opportunity to see the world and build a portfolio that will allow them to grow in their education and professional endeavors,” Smith said.
Additionally, Smith’s plans include a global classroom and she will produce a show on location at various UNESCO World Heritage Sites that will highlight the need to preserve historically significant sites and showcase activities and events in six UNESCO World Heritage regions, Curacao, Belize, Panama, Ecuador, Costa Rica and St. Kitts and Nevis.
Serenity Expeditions will provide an entertaining and educational variety of show topics including, recreation, culinary experiences, music and arts, eco tourism, health and wellness, and charity work, Smith said.
The topics recognize the prominence of each UNESCO Heritage site and how to preserve it, and bring tourism to those regions.
“As I started to talk to more people and I got to see how many more were interested in the program, it continued to motivate me to do this,” Smith said. “Then, you see what happened with the Freddie Gray situation and seeing all those kids without much hope and I knew that programs like mine could be effective.”
For more information about Serenity Expeditions, visit: www.Serenityexpeditions.org