The idea of seeing all 50 states in a matter of 100 days seems pretty daunting. Now, add a volunteer job to each of those places, and the trip can seem even more stressful. Also, you have to keep your supporters updated on Snapchat, and then you have to write a book about the whole experience. Sure, this might seem like a crazy venture, but one Binghamton University alumnus describes it as “the most magnificent thing I could think of.”
Two years ago, Chris Strub, ‘07, made a drastic decision.
“In the summer of 2015 I quit my job as the general manager of Sbarro in Greenville, South Carolina and visited nonprofit and community youth-related organizations in all 50 U.S. states,” Strub said.
But Strub didn’t just visit. From May 15 until Aug. 21, he volunteered, consulted, snapped and live-streamed his way through the country.
“I used Snapchat and live-streaming social media technology to share the stories of all of these organizations with a global audience,” Strub said.
Besides just highlighting each organization, Strub made a point to help these groups with their own social media presence.
“Nonprofits and organizations like these have magnificent stories, but often lack the resources or the technical know-how to express them,” Strub said.
Through his Snapchat stories and live videos, Strub wanted to give viewers a close-up view of how organizations can be helped.
“I wanted to embody the volunteer experience as much as possible, and really give people, locally and internationally, an idea of the sort of need that a volunteer could fulfill.”
Besides just snapping and making videos, Strub also wanted to do the work himself.
“During the trip I offered at every organization to actually do some volunteer work,” Strub said. “In addition to going and having a meeting and doing the interviews, I was there to work.”
Strub moved mulch in Alaska, served food in Mississippi and also came to the city of Binghamton to visit the the Magic Paintbrush Project, a local organization that helps those with developmental disabilities.
This stop seems fitting, as Strub said that the inspiration for his trip has “some heavy Binghamton University ties,” and he even wore a BU cap during every visit.
Strub was inspired by his friend and former resident assistant Lee Karchawer, ‘05, who began an organization of his own called Pay Away The Layaway, which donates money toward paying off holiday presents purchased through layaway programs. In 2014, Strub volunteered with this organization.
“It was an incredibly inspirational and really life-changing morning for me,” Strub said. “The emotion that I felt that morning really inspired me to want to do more with my life and try and replicate that emotion as much as possible.”
Another inspiring piece for Strub was BU Alumni’s Global Day of Service, where he worked with a group in North Carolina.
“The idea of a global day of service was really interesting to me, and I said, ‘OK, how can I do a whole bunch of days of service, how can I do a day of service of my own, in all 50 states.”
Two years laters, Strub has published a book titled “50 Days, 100 States: The Book.” Strub details his travels in this collection of writings.
“It tells you, through my eyes, the experience of a 29-year-old visiting all 50 states on his own without any corporate sponsorship, but being welcomed over and over again by some really phenomenal people with some great stories to tell,” Strub said.
Now, with a published work to his name, Strub is looking to keep helping nonprofit organizations and to inspire them to use the platforms that they have.
“Social media is becoming more and more important in our day to day lives,“ Strub said. “I’m trying to continue to inspire nonprofits to embrace social media and to recognize that social media is not just a great stage to tell your story, but it’s also an important place to engage in conversation.”