A Teen Who Changed Lives

Matthew Farrow did what most people his age, (or even people twice his age!) have yet to accomplish. He made a significant impact around the world at just 16 years old.

Matthew first volunteered in Cartago, Costa Rica with his mom and grandma, and realized the impact that he could make in less fortunate countries. After his experience volunteering in an orphanage, he couldn’t shake his desire to give back and help those in need. Matthew’s desire to help others led him to do something truly incredible--changing the lives of over 5,000 people! He partnered up with Global Grins to provide a basic necessity to those who need it the most: toothbrushes.

Through these ten questions, Matt shows the world that age doesn’t matter when making an incredible difference around the world.

Child Smiling With ToothBrush

CCS: Tell me about the donation that you organized before your CCS Trip.
Matt: After my trip to Costa Rica, I was so inspired by the impact that I made. My perspective of the world was changed in such a significant way, and I had this strong desire to give back to others. I came across Global Grins, an organization which provides toothbrushes to students across the world, and I immediately thought about my experience in Costa Rica. I wanted to give back to the orphanage who taught me so much about the world and gave me an incredible experience. Cross-Cultural Solutions was about to launch their dental health project - the timing couldn’t be more perfect! At first, I was able to secure a donation of 200 toothbrushes, which was so incredible. I then found out that there was a need for even more materials, and I reached back out to Global Grins. They were able to provide 5,000 toothbrushes--I was so ecstatic! I got in touch with Farhana from CCS after I got the donation, to finalize all the details! Since my Mom owns a UPS store, we were able to ship them out for free, everything lined up so well.

CCS: What inspired you to partake in this?
Matt: Being involved with CCS, it opened up my eyes to the world. To see what everyone has been through and despite that, I was able to help put smiles on their faces--I wanted to continue to help. Through volunteering in Costa Rica, I became so grateful for everything and I wanted to give back to them for that. At first, I wanted to just help Costa Rica, but I was even happier when I found out that my donation would be going around the world!

CCS: How and why did you get involved with Global Grins?
Matt: I found out about Global Grins through my family, and the organization was so willing to help! My cousin does podcasts, and she did one about Global Grins. It turns out that she was one of my Aunt’s friend’s, and it was easy to make that connection. I researched the organization and saw that they were doing such incredible things around the world, like CCS! I knew that they would make a great partnership. We both found each other on the grounds of our desire to help other people.

CCS: What made you interested in making an impact in the field of dental health?
Matt: The biggest reason why I wanted to make an impact in the dental health field is because many people don’t realize that people around the world lack such a basic need. It is a basic necessity to have a toothbrush and toothpaste, and many people take this for granted.
By providing a toothbrush, even though it is a small step, it can really change the lives of those who need it physically in terms of their hygiene, and mentally knowing that they are taking care of themselves. Small steps can make the biggest difference.

CCS: How did volunteering abroad change your perspective of the world?
Matt: My original trip to Costa Rica changed my perspective of the world in such an incredible way. I was as never exposed to things outside my bubble in the United States. It was eye-opening in so many ways to see other places in the world that don’t have basic necessities. I was able to understand that people go through different situations in different countries throughout the world. I truly recognized how privileged I am to live how I do, and I was ignited by a desire to continue to make an impact around the world.

CCS:Being so young, how does it feel to make an impact of this scale?
Matt:It is really moving to make this impact so young. Young people may not think that they are not capable of doing things of this scale, but they really can. It’s so moving to know that you can make a difference just by working hard and trying to make a difference. Some people let age be a setback for the difference that they want to make, but even if you’re young you can still make a difference.

CCS: How do you want to continue to inspire others to your age to make a difference?
Matt: I would love to keep doing projects similar to this to inspire others.It was so rewarding to see the difference that I could make and also overcoming the challenges that I faced. I realized that this is something that not many people would think to do, but I want to continue to make movements and show others what they can do with hard work. I wanted to start more things in my local community, and show that you can really make a difference. Making a difference is like a chain effect--when one person makes a difference, it inspires others, and their impact becomes immeasurable.

CCS: How did you grow from volunteering with your mother?
Matt: It was truly incredible volunteering with my mom, it bonded us so much closer together. To see how lucky we were together to live the lives that we do, then make a difference in the lives of others together was such an incredible experience. Through our shared new experiences we were able to learn so much about each other and learn how to work together.

CCS: Why did you choose CCS?
Matt:My mom and I were looking for international volunteering opportunity and CCS kept coming up. It seemed like the safest option, that incorporated such a wide-range of activities. It was such a great experience, I felt a sense of community and safety while going abroad. Going abroad with CCS once, I would never go abroad with another organization. CCS is catered in a lot of ways and someone is always there to make you feel comfortable and safe in the different impoverished areas that we went to. The impact they helped us make was incredible.

CCS: What message would you leave someone interested in volunteering abroad?
Matt: Absolutely do it! It can be intimidating to go abroad and go into a difference experience, but a program like CCS is SO Amazing and so enjoyable. It is so life changing and so rewarding to be able to see a place of poverty and see how people still make the best of all situations. It was so moving and touching. I would love to do a program with CCS every year! My favorite part of the experience was seeing the genuine excitement of the children. It was so easy to see the impact you can make with just a short amount of time.

Matthew Volunteering


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