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Seattle company working to do good with 'experteering'

SEATTLE -- Jaime Van Horn is a corporate strategist that had a desire to use her skills for a good cause. While searching online, she stumbled upon a website she thought would be a match for that she needed.

The company, 4-year-old MovingWorlds.org, is based in Seattle and brands itself as offering an alternative way for experts to volunteer their time in a foreign land. The company calls it "experteering".

"It's like a dating site, we recommend projects for you that best match your profile and preferences," said co-founder Mark Horszowski.

That's an oversimplification because his company does a lot more than that. For a $125 lifetime membership, experts with skills to offer can be matched up with organizations in need of those skill.

Van Horn was matched with a non-profit in Buenos Aires, Argentina that needed her professional expertise.

"You get to experience the culture, the people, and I had the benefit of working on projects that I know something about," said Van Horn.

Graphic designer Deana Jirak found a match with some Mayan women needing help upgrading a website that sells their clothing.

"I wanted to build wire frames instead of a house," said Jirak, who has volunteered for Habitat Humanity before but would rather use software that she's an expert rather than a hammer.

"It's really hard to find those opportunities especially in the design area for something halfway around the world," she said.

Jirak paid for her flight and food, while the group she was volunteering for provided housing. That's usually the exchange, although Horszowski says some organizations may provide the volunteer a cash stipend.

Horszowksi is also taking advantage of Washington State law that allows for "social purpose corporations," which MovingWorlds has become.

"Its articles of incorporation are about its mission, the difference is it doesn't have the strict IRS guidelines about around reporting, we doing have a lot of the restrictions that a 501c must follow," said Horszowski.

MovingWorlds hopes to capitalize on a generation of young urban professionals who seek to do more than just earn money.

"The most important thing everybody has is their time and their brain and the fact you can give those in meaningful way to create long term change is a really exciting place for us to be," said Horszowski.

Both Jirak and Van Horn would do it again, but there's something that is always in the way of a professional -- finding the time.

"Coming back with a new sense of confidence and the ability to speak to a whole new experience was really satisfying," said Van Horn.

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