In just three days, you can change a family’s life in profound ways. You can give them shelter, security, support and compassion. I recently had the opportunity to experience this firsthand with my 13-year old son, Connor, on a trip just south of our hometown of San Diego’s border to Tecate, Mexico. During this trip, we worked alongside a team of volunteers to build a home for a young family. We worked side-by-side with this family, hammering nails and sharing stories. Together we built the home where they will make new memories and nurture their family. In return for this service, we received the gifts of experiencing how it feels to truly give back and the realization that we are more capable and independent than we could have ever imagined.

Our home building experience was coordinated by the non-profit organization, Amor Ministries. The program takes groups of dedicated volunteers to communities in Mexico, South Africa, and the U.S. and builds an eligible family a home, all in a few days. Many families live in shacks and improvised conditions, often with no paved flooring. With the help of the volunteers, Amor gives well deserving families a solid, substantial home to shelter and protect their families.

As the managing editor of Ocean Home magazine, I am fortunate to travel to the finest coastal resorts around the world. I understand and appreciate luxury. As a participant in the Amor home building initiative, I can now better understand and appreciate poverty and the importance of basic shelter.

“Profound” is the best word I can find to succinctly describe this experience. Please follow my group’s three-day journey of building a home through my personal photo slide show, which is posted at our Ocean Home Facebook page.

Find out how to sponsor or join a trip by visiting or these other non-profit, shelter-giving organizations.