Serendipity Traveler’s mission is to enhance the lives of women travelers around the world by providing thoughtful, imaginative, and enriching small group custom travel experiences. We offer you unmatched personal service by taking small groups of women traveling together 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 and experience authentic travel.
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 women's travel company providing inspired travel for active 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 a community volunteer. She is a founding member of the Humor Us Healers at Dana Farber Cancer Institute in Boston and served on the Art for Kool Kids committee at Children’s Hospital also in Boston. She is an active member of her local garden club, library book group, and The Royal Horticultural Society. Recently she has served on the Steering Committee for the Rockport Cultural District. Along with travel, Peggy’s interests include the arts, gardening, reading, kayaking, sailing 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.
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 I, 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 the 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 so 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 to see the persistent spirit of the locals in Dominica. The unitiring efforts of 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 there.
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 is 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. 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 about helping The House of Hope project or join me on a trip to Dominica please call me directly at 978 879-7464.
Update January 2011
Words do not adequately describe how the islanders take care of each other. The residents here are well loved.
Update January 2012
The Christmas Party was delayed and so I was lucky enough to share in the festivities this January. Delicious home cooked island specialites, Christmas punch, dancing, and music filled the living room and porch. I felt most humbled to be included in this lovely afternoon.
Update January 2013
The House of Hope continues to thrive and the clients basic needs are well cared for. The staff inspires me. Each year when I visit I am amazed with the love and care that happens in this place. The need for support continues and I welcome you to learn more of how you can contribute to this island project.
Update January 2014
Visiting the House of Hope on Dominica one never knows what they will experience. On this visit it was bath time. I am continually impressed with the dedication and hard work of the staff. Two women are on 24/7 shifts to take care of the 6 physically and emotionally challenged people whose home is The House of Hope. Ranging now in ages from 17-58, each person has significant issues to work with. I spend most of my time singing with one gal who is now 17. She was ten when I first met her in 2007. She is beautiful and severely physically and emotionally handicapped. She adores the touch of rubbing her hands, arms and legs which are gnarled and unusable. Her days are spent on her back or side as she cannot walk or sit upright. Her smile lights up the world and would melt anyone's heart who is fortunate enough to know her. I wish I could be there weekly to share time with her. The need for support to care for these folks continues both in practical and prayerful ways. The love witnessed here is exceptional. I welcome anyone who may be interested to learn more about how to support The House of Hope to email or call me.
Update January 2015
Returning to visit the House of Hope each January is always a meaningful experience. My update from 2014 is similar to what I would write this year. One beautiful young woman lies flat on her back with a smile that lights up the world. Yes, she teaches me much in our short visit. The staff continue to do God's work here making do with the limited resources they have. Support is continually needed and welcome. I am blessed to visit here each winter and share, for a brief moment, the heartfelt work that is happening here.
Hurricane Erika devastated parts of Dominica in the fall of 2015. Thankfully The House of Hope was spared and continues to operate. I am not traveling to the island this winter and therefore do not have current reflections to share. We will continue to support the House of Hope and look forward to our next visit.
The beautiful island of Dominica was once again ravaged by another hurricane. The resiliency and resourcefulness of the islanders is outstanding. The sense of caring for each other is strong. Rebuilding is happening everywhere.The House of Hope continues it's mission.
I am excited to think we will return to Dominica in 2019 and visit our friends at The House of Hope.We will be bringing supplies for the local schools as well. We started bringing school supplies in 2015 and both students and staff were deeply appreciative.
Hillcrest Aids Centre Trust South Africa
On our first trip to South Africa we had the pleasure of stopping and visiting the notable Hillcrest Aids Centre Trust. The work they are doing is filled with love and care amidst one of the world's epicenters of HIV Aids. I am especially fond of the program they have to support the 2,000 GO GO's or grannies who are involved in caring for their families. We intend to have a trunk show to support this organization when we return from our 2019 trip to South Africa. Some of the best beadwork is being done by local women and is sold to support the work of the Hillcrest Aids Centre Trust.