Inspiring Forward: The Healing Power of Volunteer Work

We connected with Pierre Mounier (PM), who volunteered for an organization called Para la Naturaleza on a mission to help create a better and sustainable future for Puerto Rico. During his Day of Giving, Pierre became a part of this mission by helping the beach breathe better and cleaning the environment by picking up unnecessary trash.

AC: What organization or local cause did you volunteer for?

PM: I volunteered for an organization called “Para la Naturaleza” which is Spanish and it means “For Nature.” They do a lot of work like planting trees, preserving wildlife and habitats, among other similar things.

AC: Can you please provide an overview of their mission?

PM: The organization has a clear focus on Nature. On their website there is further info on whom they are.

“For Nature brings together all people who seek a sustainable future for Puerto Rico, where our children can grow up in habitable cities, swim in rivers of crystal-clear water and feed on the fruits of our land. We facilitate transformative experiences in nature. We conserve land of high ecological value. We encourage the taking of responsibility for our natural resources and promote public policy for their protection. With more than forty years working together with other organizations for the protection of nature in our islands, we have identified a common goal for all Puerto Ricans committed to conservation.”

AC: Was this your first time volunteering for this organization or cause? Please elaborate.

PM: Yes, this is my first-time volunteering with them. I needed to create an account with them and sign up to reserve an event with limited volunteer capacity.

I knew that I wanted to do something charitable before the end of 2023, but I wasn’t able to really find a good event. I guess I found one at the last minute before the end of the year. That was one of the worst weeks I’ve had, and I needed to distract my mind.


AC: Where there any requirements for this type of volunteerism?

PM: We had to arrive at Manati at 7AM AST my time, which is 6AM EST for the purposes of this form. For context, Manati is an hour drive from my house (no traffic), so I had to wake up very early. The volunteer work required decent physical condition. They recommended closed shoes and comfortable clothing. I got real comfortable in my bathing suit. I mean, it’s the beach, come on. They provided us with the yellow gloves, some trash bags, snacks, and water. I brought my own trash bag just in case, my black gloves (but their gloves were cooler and cleaner), a backpack with water bottle, my lunchbox with a juicy, homemade, steak burrito, some Cameos and other snacks.

AC: Why did you choose to volunteer here for your Day of Giving?

PM: Okay, I’ve been trying to find the time and energy to complete this Day of Giving form and now I am finally able to respond: It’s a long story, so grab your popcorn…

Last Christmas was the worst Christmas I’ve ever had, full stop. I was all day taking care of my sick dog. On Tuesday, December 26, 2023, I had to go to the vet to put my beloved dog Friday to sleep for good. He had cancer: lymphoma. They were clusters of round masses around his neck that spread to his lungs. Just that morning, Friday had diarrhea about 5 times. He was suffering and there wasn’t much the veterinarian could do. I’m grateful the vet was my uncle, because he and his team were beyond compassionate and patient with me. My uncle told me to touch Friday’s belly: it felt like a snake was in his stomach, but it was the lymphoma consuming him from the inside. I was never going to have the mental fortitude to work that day. I needed to get out of my house that week, being at my house reminded me more of him. I sometimes cannot get used to his absence. Never in my life would I imagine feeling this way about a dog, but he was my best friend. (Breathing…) Yup, crying right now as I type this. I’ve been feeling better recently, but he meant so much to me. Rest in Peace, Friday… It’s not all sad, he did live over 12 years, so we had many years to enjoy his presence. I still have pics of him if you’d like to see, he ALWAYS kept a cute puppy face, it was so adorable. <3

AC: Can you tell us about your volunteer experience? What did you do? Did your time volunteering meet your expectations?

PM: Just had to mention; what a BEAUTIFUL and sunny day it was on Dec 29th, Wow! At moments, not even a cloud in the sky.

So, we spent the morning cleaning the beach and picking up items that people had irresponsibly left behind left behind. I also found a cool stick! I carried it like a trusty staff. Nothing illegal nor inappropriate was found that I knew, thank God. There was a lot of glass around the rocks, I was the only one to climb up there. What was interesting that day was that I encountered a friend of my sister there, her name is Kamile and she was with her sister as well! They both studied at my high school and were around my same grade. We caught up and they’re doing well for themselves (they helped me with taking my pictures, tee hee).

AC: What would you like to share to encourage others to volunteer their time and energy locally?

PM: I’ve always liked to help others. At high school when the requirement to graduate was 100 community hours, I achieved 207 hours (about 1 week 1 and a half days). I want to continue helping people for as long as I live. Perhaps for my next Day of Giving I can go to an elderly shelter and help old people like my Mum did until she retired. My mother is my greatest inspiration for helping people and I’m very grateful to my family and my job.

AC: Is there anything else that you would like to share about your experience?

PM: When I was an ETC, I had many more responsibilities and tasks; it was very time-consuming and I was always trying to get ready for the next week. Now as a Mentor, I feel less stress, more relaxed, and I can focus more on myself and my goals on the weekend, this includes helping my community. If Activus deducts from my Day of Giving hours of last year, 2023, I would love to do another Day of Giving this year, preferably not at a beach again, Lol. I’d like to do something else like give food, clothes, or help people directly.

Thank you very much for the opportunity, Activus Connect. No other employer has offered me this benefit.

AC: Are there any links to the organization, additional educational resources, etc. that you would like to share?

PM: Yes, here’s the link to the organization –

Check out other #InspiringForward stories here –