Ill. man volunteers in 48 states in 48 weeks
by Charli Engelhorn
contributing writer
Sep 06, 2012 | 616 views | 0 0 comments | 4 4 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Sedig
Sedig
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Charlie Sedig was a typical Midwestern teenager, attending college in his home state of Illinois, and pursuing the American dream. But after a trip to Peru with Child Reach USA, a non-profit organization that matches college students with developing nations to rebuild schools and work with youth, Sedig’s “normal” life seemed to be lacking something.

“I feel like if I go through this life and don’t make a difference, it is a life wasted,” Sedig said last week during a stopover in Moab.

He dropped out of college and spent a year figuring out what to do with his life. Then, he remembered a story about a man who had traveled to the 48 continental U.S. states in 48 weeks to volunteer his time in whatever way was needed. Sedig decided to do the same.

“I already knew the head of Child Reach, and I contacted the man from the story to find out more about what he had done,” Sedig said. “I want to start my own non-profit in the future, and this seemed like a good start to see what is out there already and get a name out there for the type of work I want to do.”

At 21, Sedig packed his bags and headed out to volunteer his time for a week at a time in each of the 48 contiguous U.S. states. Along the way, he is also raising money for Child Reach USA.

He started in Wisconsin and headed north, looping through the Pacific Northwest, down the western coastline, and back through the West before stopping in his hometown of Morrison, Ill., for a brief break on his way to the East Coast.

“I thought I had a basic plan, but as I go, things are working out differently. The fundraising efforts have been great,” Sedig said. “I had a big fundraising event in my hometown before I left, and along the way, people have just basically been donating money to me.”

Utah is the 15th state on Sedig’s journey. Throughout the first 14 states he has volunteered weeding or landscaping, picking up trash, teaching English to refugees, working with Habitat for Humanity, herding cattle in Montana, and serving as a shuttle to the Grand Canyon for international visitors. In preparation for Moab, he called the National Park Service to see what sort of work he could do in this region.

“They didn’t have much set up that I could do because of the timeframe and paperwork involved, but they did give me recommendations on who to contact in the community,” he said.

Sedig was given Sara Melnicoff’s name and joined her to help out with Moab Solutions, a local organization that provides green job training for the homeless in the community and works to keep Mill Creek Parkway clean of recycling and trash.

“I think what he is doing is pretty cool,” Melnicoff said. “I am amazed at how young he is, and doing what he is doing. He is an impressive young man.”

Sedig also had the opportunity to work with the Moab-based Community Rebuilds for two days. He helped the group work on a current home rebuild on 200 East and the group provided him with a place to stay while in Moab. He also did trail work in Negro Bill Canyon along state Route 128.

His family has mixed feelings about what he is doing, Sedig said. But they are proud of him for doing something worthwhile with his life.

“I’m looking forward to seeing a familiar face. It isn’t as easy being on the road as I thought,” Sedig said. “I’m trying to keep my expenses low, so I’ve been sleeping in my car a lot. But people have been very friendly and have offered assistance when they could.”

To donate to Sedig’s cause, offer assistance or a volunteer opportunity, or to find out more about Childreach USA, visit www.childreachusa.org/48states.

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