A few years ago, I traveled to the Dominican Republic and had a life-changing experience volunteering among the people of that beautiful country. I participated in several volunteer experiences, but perhaps the most impactful to me was teaching English in an elementary school. We played baseball, we sang songs, we drew pictures, and all the while we tried to communicate through broken English, inadequate Spanish, and impromptu sign language. We played baseball with a stick and a rolled sock. The school didn’t even have resources to afford a baseball and a bat. Later, as we were preparing to load our bus and return to our sanitary lives, the sweet little Dominican children clung to my arms and begged me not to leave, and I didn’t want to. I wanted to stay. With tears freely flowing down my cheeks, I hugged each of my new friends and reluctantly boarded the shuttle. Why was it so impactful, so life changing for me? Because, at once, I could see both the need, but also the great love and happiness with which these beautiful people live their lives. I wanted to stay and do something. I decided that I was going to do something to ease even a small part of their burden. At the very least I was going to get them a proper baseball and a sturdy bat!

Later, I contacted the director of the Carmen Sofia Villalona in Bani, a small city on the southern coast, about 60 km west of the capital. Carmen Sofia is a small, poor school and while they also lack adequate sports equipment, they also have other needs, including repairs to the school, repair or replacement of equipment, basic school supplies for the children, and teaching supplies for the teachers.

We have been working with Carmen Sofia for 4 years. We have come to love the happy children and the dedicated staff. We have supplied sports equipment, school and teaching supplies, we have purchased projectors, and refrigerators. We have purchased many, many books and furnished a proper school library. To date, we have donated over $20,000 to this very deserving project and in 2021 we will return to continue work around the school. We are excited to return and share stories and pictures!

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