Serendipity Traveler’s mission is to enhance the lives of women travelers around the world by providing thoughtful, imaginative and enriching travel experiences. We offer you unmatched personal service by taking small groups of women to places of great natural beauty and culture. Our handcrafted itineraries afford the luxury of a tailor made journey with careful attention to each detail. Women travel together in comfort and safety to explore, discover, and experience our magnificent world. We invite you to join like minded women to travel together.
Peggy R. Coonley is the founder and President of Serendipity Traveler. Her spirit for life and zest for exploration, along with that of her husband, three children, and grandchildren are ever present in their family travels. Volunteer work in Costa Rica and Thailand, academic studies in China, cruising in the British Virgin Islands, numerous trips throughout North America and Europe, and traveling throughout New Zealand demonstrate this ongoing collective passion.
As an entrepreneur, Ms. Coonley's life has been immersed in the arts. She founded a series of Fine American Craft galleries in Boston, Massachusetts, Palo Alto, and Carmel, California. A lifetime of travel and a passion for people along with years of research, planning, and collaboration led Ms. Coonley to launch Serendipity Traveler - a company providing inspired travel for women travelers. Ms. Coonley's background in the arts is ever present in her choices of exquisite destinations, authenticity, and informed attention to all details.
Ms. Coonley is an active community volunteer. She is a founding member of the Humor Us Healers at Dana Farber Cancer Institute in Boston and serves on the Art for Kool Kids committee at Children’s Hospital also in Boston. She is a member of her local garden club. Along with travel, Peggy’s interests include the arts, gardening, reading, kayaking, and walks by the sea with her husband and family.
In my words “Travel Philanthropy” is quite simply described as people helping people around the world. Travelers everywhere can make a difference in the well being of the people in countries they are visiting. Choosing to share resources with locals, learning about native ways, cultures, and needs affords a rich experience for the traveler. Furthermore, deciding to help lend a hand to a community initiative provides a lasting impact for everyone.Some folks term traveler’s philanthropy as a new source of international aid. In essence it is caring about those we meet along the road. We all learned to share in kindergarten at which time we were taught to give the “bigger half”. Travelers today want to experience the places they visit on a local level and travel philanthropy can help to make that happen.
Serendipity Traveler has initiated support for a community project on the island of Dominica. The project is called The House of Hope. Please read their story for more details and call me if you wish to become involved.
House of Hope Project
Before visiting the island of Dominica, I had decided to integrate travel philanthropy into Serendipity Traveler’s mission and researched what needs myself, and perhaps the women traveling with me, might explore. It was not long before I learned of The House of Hope story in the nearby tiny village of Delicies and soon thereafter arranged an optional morning visit for Serendipity Travelers to meet the staff and residents of this community initiative. The House of Hope in Dominica is a home that provides twenty four hour loving care for persons with severe physical and mental disabilities. The impetus for beginning the House of Hope arose when two severely challenged sisters, in their early thirties, who had been cared for by their loving mother, were left orphaned when their elderly mother died. The villagers felt the need to protect and care for these girls and went to the government, the wider community, and media in an effort to educate the public to the need that existed. In January of 2005 the doors opened in a small, rented building to care for these women. Since then, a younger child with severe cerebral palsy is also being cared for. The heart and spirit of this humble place is inspiring. The women travelers who visited were all moved by the dedication and commitment of the caregivers and the hope that is alive. The House of Hope has a dream to build a twelve room facility and needs much financial support to realize this vision. The Director is Mr. Heskeith Alexander, who volunteers his time. In keeping with my commitment to travel philanthropy I presented a small check and tears of thankfulness trickled down Mr. Alexander’s weathered face. Before leaving the island, other women also offered resources to help with this project. We all left Dominica as travelers having been touched by the generosity and warmth of the islanders who have little and yet their spirits are vibrant and hopeful. The days on Dominica were woven into a rich tapestry of explorations, laughter, reflections and learning while snorkeling, hiking, touring, and renewing our bodies, minds, and spirits.
On Chirstmas Eve, 2007, I learned that the House of Hope has broken ground for their new building. When visiting the island in November 2007, I met again with Heskeith Alexander and two of the Board Members. Before going to the existing humble facility, we met at the land that has been appropriated for the new orphanage. I am hopeful Serendipity Traveler can inspire others to support this worthwhile project.
Update 2008 The House of Hope is nearing completion and has an ongoing wish list for equipment and continuing needs.
This spring The House of Hope is planning to transisiton residents into the new 12 bed facility. There are many miles to go with this project and it is amazing to me how the persistent spirit of the locals in Dominica. The unitiring efforts of especially the villagers in Delicies are inspiring. The need for support continues and will be ongoing.
Update December 2009
I will visit The House of Hope this winter and any women traveling with me are welcome to come along and see the ongoing and heartfelt work being done.
Update January 2010
We did visit The House of Hope and spent the morning interacting with the children and caregivers. One cannot help but feel the love and care that these children are being given. The building is complete and functional and the need for continuing funds ever present to care for the residents. More children are waiting for a room as soon as funds become available to sustain their care. I would like to see some local art and more stimulation on the white washed walls too. Perhaps some mobiles and paintings. The laundry was drying in the breeze and the cook was in the kitchen preparing lunch. A heartfelt ongoing committment by a handful of wonderfully dedicated folks. I look forward to our return.
Update December 2010
I am looking forward to our next return to Dominica and once more visiting the children and staff at The House of Hope. Memories linger of the children served there and of the ongoing need for funds and support.
If you would like to talk with me specifically about helping The House of Hope project or join me on a trip to Dominica please call me directly at 978 879-7464.
Please go to our Reservation page now and begin to make your travel plans with us. We look forward to traveling with you.