On a bright and beautiful spring day, I had the pleasure of meeting with one of our wonderful members, Toni Devreaux, at the Huntington Library, Art Collection, and Botanical Gardens in California. We were surrounded by lush plants and creatures that seamlessly existed among numerous buildings on the campus. Knowing that those buildings were treasure troves of knowledge made the experience that much more exciting.
In addition to the beautiful botanical display, The Huntington is a notable cultural, research, and educational center. Their buildings house a vast collection of rare books and manuscripts as well as distinguished art. Scholars from around the world visit the Huntington to conduct advanced humanities research.
And this is why the location of our meeting was so meaningful. Toni hosts Huntington Fellows in her nearby Pasadena home. She enjoys working with Professors and feels like they are trustworthy. “There’s something intuitive about the process of meeting people and making a match,” she adds that the people she meets are nice, clean, and respect her space.
Toni worked for Disney for many years and is now retired. “I have the luxury of time and like to meet new people.” Even when a match doesn’t work out time-wise, Toni enjoys kindling friendships with the people she meets on Sabbatical Homes. She describes her guests as grateful and trustworthy. “As a retired person with limited income but a nice house in a desirable city, SabbaticalHomes.com is allowing me to make some extra income, travel beyond what I could otherwise afford, and meet lovely people while doing so.”
Given the location of Toni’s Pasadena home, she has hosted numerous Huntington Fellows and their families. Sometimes she rents, but other times exchanging has worked out. Just last year she did a combination rental-exchange with a Professor and his family from London. “They rented my home for a month, then we did an exchange for 2 weeks.” The Professor was visiting on a paid fellowship to The Huntington. “He has another fellowship next summer and they will come back again.” While they come to live in her Pasadena Bungalow, she is excited to escape to their family home in London, which is nestled in the heart of the city.
While listening to Toni’s stories I realize that she has developed many wonderful relationships through inviting people into her space and traveling to their homes. The human element involved in the process is evident. “It’s great to be open to life’s adventures!” exclaims Toni, “I love to travel. And I couldn’t afford to travel without doing these things. It’s fun.” She clearly has the right attitude.
I created this site for people like Toni—she’s excited about working with scholars and understands that to sustain our service she gives back contributions when she’s had successful matches. The reason I structured SabbaticalHomes.com as a commission-free listing service is because I trust our members to handle financial transactions between themselves and want to cater directly to people who have ethics to give back. It’s a special place on the internet for people who are of an academic mindset and want to help fellow professors, students, and scholars cultivate a stronger knowledge-base through travel. I want every professor to know about Sabbatical Homes!
Founder on the Move is a series written by Nadege Conger, Founder of SabbaticalHomes.com. She created the site in 2000 to help academics worldwide pursue their research by providing a home exchange and rental website. Connect with Nadege on Facebook.