After graduating from the University of Pittsburgh in 2006, Adam Kunes took a service trip to New Orleans, where he spent four days gutting homes damaged by Hurricane Katrina.
“It was extremely hard work,” says Kunes. “The bonds and friendships that were formed that week made a lasting impact on me. There is something about giving of your time and talents to help those in need that can’t be explained.”
The trip inspired Kunes, a young entrepreneur who previously served as the CEO and founder of the Squirrel Hill-based media conversion company Rewind Memories, to create Have Fun Do Good, a new Pittsburgh-based travel company that provides young travelers with opportunities to combine vacation and volunteer work.
Founded in 2015, Have Fun Do Good works with dozens of nonprofits to organize affordable, socially conscious group excursions geared towards the millennial crowd. Their projects cover everything from disaster relief efforts to animal welfare, and incorporate partnerships with organizations such as Big Brothers Big Sisters, Ronald McDonald House, the National Park Service and many others.
Right now, the company offers packages for New York City, Southern California, the American Southwest, and Costa Rica.
Kunes and his small team connect with their target demographic primarily through the company’s Instagram account, which Kunes says has amassed more than 16,000 followers in less than eight months. “We receive a lot of messages each week from people asking how to get involved and sharing genuine positivity towards our model,” he adds.
It was through Instagram that Liz Michael became familiar with the company. After following the Have Fun Do Good account for a few months, she saw a post for the company’s National Park Tour and decided to sign up. Over the course of five days, Have Fun Do Good shuttled her and 15 other travelers through the Grand Canyon, Antelope Canyon and Zion National Park, where they volunteered at a nursery repotting young trees and completing other tasks.
“It was something I would never be able to do on my own,” says Michael, an Ohio State grad who’s now studying at Columbus State University to be a sign language interpreter.
The company made the trip easy by handling transportation and accommodations, which included stays at an Airbnb and a houseboat at Lake Powell, a reservoir located on the Colorado River. In total, the trip cost her a mere $500.
More than anything, Have Fun Do Good gave Michael the chance to connect with new people who shared her passion for giving back.
“There was a lot of community building,” she says, adding that the majority of the people on the trip were initially strangers.
She enjoyed the experience so much that she signed up for the company’s recent So-Cal Road Trip. The five-day-long journey from San Diego to Santa Barbara included working with the Best Day Foundation, a nonprofit that uses adventure-based activities such as surfing or skiing to build confidence in children and young adults with disabilities.
“The response thus far has exceeded expectations,” says Kunes, who wants to expand Have Fun Do Good’s mission by adding more trips and partnering with more nonprofits. “People are extremely open to the idea of traveling with purpose.”