On May 20th a group representing Cornell Hockey made our 5th service trip to Don Juan in the Dominican Republic. The group consisted of five players, Jeff Malott, Zach Bramwell, Brenden Locke, Kyle Betts, and Cody Haiskanen. Also making the trip for the fifth time was Tony Eisenhut and his daughter Emily and her husband Tom D’Alessandro, Sean Flanagan and his girlfriend Heather Philip, and my daughter Michelle. We also had a local priest, Father Daniel Ruiz, join us on the trip and further help with communication as he is from Columbia and fluent in Spanish. The trip was very rewarding and we had a great experience. Over the five days we had many projects to complete.
Rob Manfred from Major League Baseball was kind enough to donate over 180 uniforms, bats, gloves, and balls. We distributed the uniforms to 3rd through 7th grade teams. The hats were in such high demand that the principal asked to use many of the hats as rewards for academic achievement, effort, and improvement. The equipment will be used by the school and by local teams. We also brought over 100 pairs of cleats collected from Cornell Athletics.
Project Days for Girls
Provided by All Saints Church, we were able to bring over 120 kits for girls to the school in Don Juan. Emily, Heather, and Michelle were able to present and distribute these kits. These kits empower women and girls worldwide through sustainable menstrual care and health education. Learn more about the Days for Girls mission here.
Project Water Filters
We were able to research and find water filters in the Dominican Republic that have been proven to be effective. We purchased, cleaned, and delivered filters to one of the poorest areas near Don Juan. Dominican local, Eddy Herra, trained the people on how to assemble and care for the filters. Seeing them use the filters for the first time and seeing the families have clean water was an unbelievable experience. The group was so moved that they donated more money to purchase over 250 pounds of rice for the ten families in the rural village.
We only helped build three latrines but everyone was able to see the ongoing project. Over 700 latrines have been built through the foundation and we continue to employ two men through a micro-loan program. They will continue to build 120 more latrines over the next 6 months. This is a win-win situation as it continues to improve the sanitation of the people living there and is also providing employment.
Project House Building
Our main work was starting a house for a mother and her child who has autism who were living in conditions that cannot be visualized. Father Ron heard of her situation and we provided the materials to the family. Our group, along with men from the village, were able to begin the foundation of the house. It was a humbling experience to dig a foundation by hand in those conditions, but our group had a lot of fun together and working with the local people.
Project Deliver Clothes and Shoes
We brought over 26 hockey bags with us to the Dominican. Many of the bags included shoes and clothes collected from local schools and Cornell. We also had over 180 towels and hats and shirts from the NCAA hockey championship that the NCAA donated. The three Haitian villages we delivered these items to were very excited.
Project Baseball Diamond
We raised money to donate new dirt to the baseball diamond across from the school. This project took a little longer to spread the dirt as they dumped five truck loads on the diamond rather than spreading the dirt around. In the end, we were able to get in the dirt spread, but the game that night provided for some really bad infield hops.
Our last experience was a trip to Project Rachel, which is a school in Santo Domingo. This school has the same mission as the Racker Center here in Ithaca. It was the highlight of our trip dancing with the children and meeting the teachers who are unbelievable and committed to the school’s mission.
Overall the experience was one that our group will never forget. I want to thank many of you that have supported this trip over the years and even for some of you that have made the journey to Don Juan. Thank you so much!
- Mike Schafer