North Shore resident Jenny Karmali has long been passionate about philanthropy and travel. “I’ve been brought up to always give back to the community,” she says over the phone. So in 2008, the travel consultant, who for over 30 years has been arranging trips for her personal and corporate clients, decided to combine the two passions by founding the volunteer-run travel organization, Journeys with Heart.
Journeys with Heart offers customized trips to small groups (usually under 24 people) to destinations near and far, all while supporting Lower Mainland charities. What sets Journeys with Heart apart from other organizations offering similar fundraising trips is the fact that the excursions are hosted by local personalities.
The first journey, to India in 2008, benefitted the BC Women's Hospital and Health Centre Foundation and was hosted by renowned chef John Bishop, owner of Bishop’s restaurant. Karmali first approached the U.K.-born chef about the gig at a one of his book signings, taking place at Whole Foods, and he’s been involved with Journeys with Heart ever since, hosting one to two excursions each year.
Fast-forward to 2018 and the organization has raised $130,000 for local charities. There are four trips planned for 2018—one to Italy with former CBC-Radio-Canada personality Monique Polloni, one on a Rhine River Cruise with award winning cookbook author and psychologist Dr. Theresa Nicassio, another to Newfoundland and Labrador, and another to Israel and Jordan. Bishop will host the latter two. “(The Newfoundland trip) will be John’s eighth trip, and his trips usually have a culinary emphasis,” Karmali says.
Journeys with Heart makes a point of supporting lesser-known charities that may not benefit from as many contributions as higher-profile organizations. Two of the trips in 2018 will benefit North Shore charities. While participants of the Newfoundland and Labrador excursion will make a donation to the North Vancouver City Library, those joining Bishop on the Israel and Jordan trip will support Aunt Leah’s Place. The Rhine River Cruise will benefit the ADHD Adult Clinic at the HOpe Centre and Monique’s “Permesso Avanti” tour will benefit the Italian Cultural Centre.
Although the journeys—which in the past have also explored Bhutan, Japan and Iceland—support charities back home, Karmali ensures that local people in the regions where the adventures take place are benefitting from the visit as well. “We try very hard to give back to local charities in the countries we’re visiting,” says Karmali.
For more information about Journeys with Heart and to register for one of the 2018 trips, visit journeyswithheart.com