To date, the donations made through Martello’s Employee-Directed Gift Program have stayed pretty close to home. This has been great because we have really been able to see the impact first-hand. However, the reach of a recent donation stretches a bit further and the dramatic, hands-on way it is changing the lives of those in that community is nothing short of amazing.
Most students cap off their high school graduation with an epic, fun-filled trip somewhere down south where it’s warm and wonderful. Since 2010, students from All Saints High School in Kanata have been heading down to the Dominican Republic (DR) to be a part of something that’s not only fun but meaningful. The All Saints Dominican Republic Experience (ASDREX) gives students the opportunity to stay with local families in the town of Consuelo and work in a fully supported, early childhood education centre called Todos Los Santos. The program fully supports the centre which is attended by 30 students from the community and employs two teachers that work at the facility. As part of their efforts prior to leaving for their trip, the students collect basic first aid items and toiletries as well as school supplies to donate to local families. During their time there, the students work on projects at the centre, tour homes in the community, and spend time in the local sugarcane fields where most of the fathers work in the heat of the day to support their families and tackle local housing renewal projects.
When Martello former CFO Paul Chatigny’s son Bennett expressed an interest in attending this year’s ASDREX he was excited to have him participate and also immediately knew where he wanted to direct his Employee-Directed Gift. “We wanted him to see first-hand how the families in the DR live and to see the dramatic impact that one individual can have on a community.” When he returned, Paul said, “Bennett not only had a good time, he will never forget the first-hand experience of life in a developing country.”
“We wanted Bennett to see first-hand how the families in the Dominican Republic live and to see the dramatic impact that one individual can have one a community” – Paul Chatigny, Martello former CFO
Danielle Baillie, the librarian technician at All Saints has been one of the trip coordinators since the program’s inception. Of the experience, she says: “Taking part in the All Saints Dominican Experience trip for the last eight years has been an honour and a rewarding experience. Each year I have the unique opportunity to take students on this Third World experience to show them life outside of the privilege we are born into as Canadians, and watch these students really “get it”. It also warms my heart each year to be welcomed back to Consuelo by the people I have connected with and our ability to give back to that community by funding the early education centre Todos Los Santos and other projects we and the students have worked hard to raise funds for over the years.”
This year, Bennett and the other students were able to tackle a housing project for a widow who had nine children. They painted her home and did some repair work that she needed to be done. The students were amazed that such a large family were living in such a small home, and how in ten minutes they were able to remove all of the family’s sparse belongings. For these students, it was an eye-opening experience that could not have happened anywhere else and for those that made the trip, the effects of what they saw and did will last a lifetime. To build something, paint something or hand a child an item that you know will make a significant difference to them touches the students in ways that we can only imagine. Martello was truly inspired to have the opportunity to see the lasting impact that these students have on the families in this small community.