When he’s not busy portraying Lt. Danny Green on the set of Michael Bay’s “The Last Ship,” Travis Van Winkle dedicates his life to service. Giving back is something that he is incredibly passionate about and spends a lot of time working with awesome organizations like buildOn and Big Brothers Big Sisters.
The “Accepted” star took the time to chat with GoodCelebrity.com about his work as Global Ambassador for buildOn and how his role as Big Brother to his pal Lyrik showed him the meaning of mentorship.
Travis Teams Up with buildOn
buildOn is a global organization that takes inner-city youth from the United States over to foreign countries to build schools in communities that desperately need the educational resources. After experiencing the organization’s benefits first-hand, the 33-year-old actor said that he “fell in love with the experience they created.”
After his first “trek” with buildOn, Travis said that he was blown away by the people he met overseas. They don’t have the same luxuries we have in the US, but “they are so much richer than me in so many ways,” he added.
He said that after coming home, he knew that he had to “rearrange his life” and that’s when he became dedicated to buildOn and its service. He is now a Global Ambassador for the organization and leads treks of his own.
Travis dished about the awesome opportunities buildOn creates for kids living in urban environments similar to Detroit. They face hard times in their personal lives, but are empowered by the organization to “be of service in their cities,” he said.
“The kids paint murals and clean up the city, or work with veterans and feed the homeless,” Travis added. “They can be the change that they want to see in their life.”
Once these inner city youth work with buildOn in their hometowns, they are then invited to go on a trek overseas and build a school in a developing country.
“They get to go to this place that is very economically poor, where some of the kids aren’t even wearing shoes, yet they’re rich in family values and they’re rich in culture,” he explained. “Our kids in the US get to experience this tapestry of well-being.”
Travis recently hosted a fundraising event titled “Lovelife: Livestream” in which he raised more than $100,000 to build three schools in Senegal, Africa. He also established a partnership between buildOn and Big Brothers Big Sisters Los Angeles, which is another organization he’s actively involved with.
Travis even brought along his Little Brother Lyrik, who performed for the guests and was surprised with an opportunity to join Travis on a trek to Senegal this summer.
Travis Finds Inspiration from Big Brothers Big Sisters
The “Transformers” actor loves to be around kids. He said that they bring him a unique energy and fill his soul with happiness. In addition to working with kid-friendly buildOn, he’s also a strong supporter of Big Brothers Big Sisters Los Angeles.
“I have this desire to make people comfortable, to feel loved and feel amazing,” he said. “A lot of times, kids get in their heads and feel insecure. I want them to feel like they’ve never been insecure before. That they are loved and they can laugh.”
“Kids teach us so much, Travis continued. “That’s why I joined the Big Brothers Big Sisters Program.”
As mentioned, Travis works closely as a mentor for his Little Brother Lyrik, but the actor argues that Lyrik is just as much a mentor for him.
“Mentorship is allowing someone to gain a different vantage point on life that they would not see otherwise,” he said.
Travis explained that they both get to experience life through each other’s points-of-view, and it’s extremely rewarding.
“It’s a beautiful introduction to a new kind of service that introduces you to a new kind of community and it’s really powerful,” he said.
Travis’ Goals for his Future Service
The 33-year-old said that his life was transformed for the better thanks to service. He plans to continue his treks, and already has two scheduled for the upcoming year. In addition, he wants to work on uniting Los Angeles.
“Hopefully, buildOn has a program here in Los Angeles and our youth have another outlet for creating the change that they really want to see,” he said.
Also, Travis wants to continue to bringing buildOn and Big Brothers Big Sisters together, because the two work towards a similar goal, which is improving the lives of underserved children.
“Both of these organizations have filled my life and I want others to experience this,” he said. “These organizations have ushered me into manhood and will continue to. They’ve opened my eyes to new ways of experiencing the world and seeing the world and engaging with the world.”
To further display the importance of buildOn’s mission, Travis is currently working on a documentary called “GROUNDWORK,” which showcases his experience on a trek. It’s currently in production and is expected to make the festival circuit later this year.
Finally, the actor wants everyone to know that “service can be cool and fun.” He said that everyone should get involved with an organization or help a cause they care about.
“Service is a mutual exchange and everybody wins,” Travis added.