CHANGERS PROFILE: Katherine Fisher—Destination:PEACE

Without getting too smarmy, the most amazing experiences I get from doing this blog are the interconnected webs of relationships with people I’ve met who are up to the same things as I. There are deep friendships that have been forged with some people who I haven’t even met yet, but we create a connection through work and through networking that lets us keep up with one another. Katherine Fisher reached out to me via the blog a while ago, and I honestly feel so supported by her, and am so inspired by the work she does in Mexico, she feels like family…and we’ve never been in the same place at the same time…YET…That’ll all change when I am lucky enough to join one of these fantastic volunteer trips she does, bringing folks into communities in Mexico to work, and giving folks a little downtime and yoga practice too. Her story, and the story of Destination:PEACE, is inspiring as I learn more about someone who saw a place in the world that needed an infusion of energy and support, and she recognized that nothing would fill that gap quite as perfectly as she herself…and now she holds the door open for us to join her as well.

KATHERINE FISHER: Destination:PEACE

Katherine Fisher is a visionary businesswoman who has creatively found a way to balance her life’s passions and practical skills into a social venture. After many years as a PEACE volunteer and multiple years serving on the Board of Directors, Katherine saw an opportunity to bring mind, body, and spirit together and founded Destination:PEACE Volunteer Vacations.

When Katherine discovered Bikram Yoga, she fell in love with the practice for both its meditative and physically challenging aspects, changing her perspective on what it truly means to be healthy. It was this outlook that led her to believe that like-minded yoga participants would enjoy combining this healthy practice with the opportunity to bring support to struggling families and animals in Mexico.

Katherine combined her background in business and sales with her passion for Yoga and has committed herself full time to build, organize, and promote Destination:PEACE, bringing funding to non-profits in Mexico while allowing volunteers to serve the local community and fulfill their own vacation and inspirational needs.

Mission Statement: To provide an opportunity for volunteers from all walks of life to experience different volunteer programs, to become immersed in another culture, and work side-by-side with other volunteers and residents to create and further sustainable community initiatives.

Read the interview after the jump.

Tell me a little bit about the genesis of Destination:PEACE. What possessed you? There must have been easier things to start—why this?

I was looking for something more meaningful and rewarding to do in my life. I wanted to create something where I could consistently be involved by giving back to the communities I love so much, and thus Destination:PEACE was born.

Destination:PEACE was sprouted from an idea to create a volunteer experience with local non-profits all while enjoying the beautiful backdrop and culture of Mexico. Originally, it was founded on the terms of working with one non-profit, PEACE Mexico, but that quickly changed when we realized we wanted to expand and move out into the heart of Mexico.

We had a great connection. PEACE Mexico, a non-profit located in Punta Mita, is an organization that is very close to my heart and founded by my Sister, Molly Fisher. This relationship made it easy for us to create something great, the platform was there.

What work or pursuits led you here? Did your youth/upbringing/family life seem to put you on this path, or did you come to it later?

Before Destination:PEACE I worked for a yoga company on a corporate level, and before that I was in the corporate arena for nine years working in sales. During my yoga corporate journey, I was lucky enough to receive my CYT, Certified Yoga Teacher certificate. I have been an avid yogi for over 12 years and continue to teach and be taught. I have always dreamed of doing something with yoga in my professional career and voila – we offer Yoga in all our Destination:PEACE volunteer vacations. I not only get to be the hostess of the trips but I also get to teach all the guests. I love that interaction.

My upbringing had a lot to do with where I am today. My parents helped to foster in me a love for giving back and connecting with community. My family continues to support me and always keeps me going with courage. Work hard, play hard continues to be a big motto in our family.

What was your awareness and experience with Mexico before you started this program?

I was lucky. After high school I had it in my head that I wanted to learn the Spanish language and envelop myself in the Mexican culture. Not to my surprise (my parents are really cool) my parents allowed me to go to Merida as an exchange student for one semester. I spent over 6 months in Mexico with a great family and I  immersed myself in the culture. From that time on, I spent a lot of time in Mexico.

What obstacles along the way almost stopped you?

I really can’t think of any major obstacles along the way, knock on wood, but if I had to choose something it would be learning the world of social media. I always believe that if you follow your heart, happiness and success will follow.

In a nutshell—what is the problem facing the communities you serve? Why is the program needed?

Destination:PEACE serves in several communities and in my opinion the number one problem in each of the communities is lack of education. Programs are needed because it provides the children and adults opportunities to develop skills to be successful, confident humanitarians.

Honestly, what is lacking the most with most organizations are funds, they need a consistent flow of funds to continue the programs.

Does the work of this organization ever end? Is there a measurable result that makes the need go away?

No, giving back to one’s community will never end.

When deciding to dedicate yourself to this, did family and friends support you or think you were nuts?

In the early stages of creating Destination:PEACE, I received support in the form of  accolades such as “great job, keep up the great work.” I did receive a huge amount of support from a friend who strongly believed in me and created the marketing plan for Destination:PEACE. Thanks JEN! After several months I started creating relationships with just about anyone who had positive input. I have made some phenomenal connections and friends and receive a lot of support.

What is your earliest memory of volunteering or dedicating yourself to someone or something else?

I can remember hours of enjoyment playing cards with nursing home residents.

While there won’t ever be a standard, what is an example of a typical day for a participant on one of your trips?

Be awakened by the beautiful sunrise, enjoy a yoga class underneath a palapa on the beach, savor a light, fresh breakfast, meander on the beach, read a book or relax by the pool, eat a delicious, healthy lunch made by local hands, give back to the community and keep your hands busy by helping at a spay / neuter clinic, nurture a gentle dog who has just come out of surgery, take her vitals and ease her back into the world, put your feet up after several hours of challenging, energizing work, enjoy a light guided hike, yoga class, or Ayurveda cooking class, and then kick back and appreciate the food and drink, all freshly, locally prepared in the community.

Is there an ideal client for a Destination:PEACE trip?

Yes, you must want to give back AND want a little self indulgence.

Any advice for others wanting to create a service organization or charitable effort?

The people who I surround myself with are my inspiration. My advice is to do something that touches ones heart and go for it, the possibilities are endless.

If not this, what? (What might you be doing if not Destination:PEACE?)

If not DP, another dream of mine would be to build a yoga sanctuary from the ground up.

How can the rest of us get involved? What about from home?

The rest of “us” can get involved by helping to spread the word about Destination:PEACE and all the organizations with whom we partner. From home? Social media and…donations.

What has been the best reward for the work you do?

The best reward I see, for both the volunteers of Destination:PEACE and the local people, are the smiles, hugs, and love. I also want to acknowledge the relationships and connections that have been created.

What has been the greatest disappointment along the way? Hardest lesson?

One of the hardest lessons has been learning how to start a business, keep it up, and get people excited. I am in a constant classroom and I am loving the ride.

What’s next?

Destination:PEACE is a baby and growing every day. We are coming out with new themes and locations as well as new partner organizations. For example, we will offer Ayurvedic treatments and consultations for interested guests and with our new Pick Your Own Dates program one will have the opportunity to choose dates and locations. We are moving into the heart of Mexico and welcome all, so come join us!

6 responses to this post.

  1. A wonderful interview with a wonderful and inspiring woman!! Bravo!!

    Reply

  2. Posted by Elaine on September 20, 2010 at 11:29 AM

    I’m so amazed by the work of this wonderful woman!! What an inspiration!

    Reply

  3. I would like to offer my school as a volunteer destination for Katherine and the PEACE: destination vacations. We teach English to local people on Isla Mujeres, to help lift them out of poverty. Volunteer/observers in the classroom need only to speak English. We will be in touch with her!

    Reply

  4. OOPS! Here is our website: http://www.folges.org – for La Gloria English School on Isla Mujeres near Cancun, MX.

    Reply

  5. Posted by Christian on September 21, 2010 at 6:03 PM

    I love this interview and especially the work that Katherine is promoting through Destination Peace, it has so much heart and a spirit of selfless service. May this “baby” grows healthy and strong for the benefit of so many!

    Reply

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