Since 2004 Lavender Fields Day Spa has been active in the community by donating time and money to grass root and national charitable organizations with various needs.
We would like to continue this process and ask you to help. When contacting us for a donation to assist your non-profit organization, we ask that you fill out a tax form found at our front desk.
You will also see organizations large and small that we have contributed to.
Charitable Giving 2009
Many of you know that while traveling I like to get to know the culture. This visit was no different. Usually I'll prepare half of my allotted travel luggage as donations to the local school teachers.
This year was a bit different. We chose baseball equipment as our theme. If you didn't know, some of the best baseball players on your favorite teams are from the Dominican Republic. Yup, they love baseball in the DR. I started out looking for baseball stuff the same way I would have for the school teachers, by shopping in discount and "dollar" stores. And by talking to the girls at quality department store cosmetic counters. That method wasn't working for baseball equipment.
So, I did a search on craigslist.com and was contacted by a baseball training facility in Bristol, CT called Diamond Kings Baseball and Softball Academy and they helped me by donating baseball equipment for the locals in the Dominican Republic. A special thank you to Mike Church and his team for helping us put smiles on a few lucky kids in the DR.
That's just the beginning of the story…
During our two weeks in the Dominican Republic we found our new group of "Shoe Shine Boys." (See group picture at bus stop) The reason I say new group is because as the boys get older they are no longer able to beg on the street, tourists are more likely to give a smaller child money as opposed to an older child.
We found that one of those boys who's name is Natanael spoke English and we hired him to be our translator on a day trip to Samana, east of Cabarete on the North Coast. We agreed to pay him 1000 RD about $35. We went to see his Mother to ask her permission, she agreed and was pleased. (see picture of Natanael's Mom at home)
It was great to have the other boys see the value in learning a second language as a means to support themselves and their families.
We took the boys to lunch after our morning of baseball and were approached by an American women who knew the boys and introduced herself. She was curious to know who Carmine and I were and why we were hosting this unlikely group of street kids to a bountiful lunch of arugula salad, soda and pizza.
Come to find out she is the head of the largest Dominican Republic Education and Mentoring Project, her name is Patricia Thorndike Suriel, she is the Executive Director and one of the founders of the DREAM Project. Many of you have asked how you can help, well here is the Dream Project's website: www.dominicandream.org
I can assure you that this project really does help the people of the Dominican Republic, I have seen it first hand and will be contacting Patricia before our next visit to see if we can deliver anything specific. Our next trip will be December 2009.
We told her we have hired Natanael as our translator for a day trip and she was excited for him. Patricia pointed out one other boy at our table named Chi Chi and said of all the boys at the table he would benefit from our help as he is one of 15 living in a one room house. Chi Chi has a rough exterior but we soon found that he was a sweet 14 year old boy who just needed a break. Home life for Chi Chi is not easy, as you can imagine.
Carmine and I decided to take Chi Chi on our day trip to Samana and got permission from his mother. He was so excited we could see a change in him immediately. The next day we picked up the two boys at 8:30 in their village . I am going to skip our day trip for now as it was really uneventful and we realized although Samana was nice, Cabarete is really the place for us.
We told Netanael and Chi Chi that we were going to take them into Puerto Plata the next day and buy them each a bike, but that they needed to be like a "silent fox" and not tell any of the other boys as it would have been impossible to leave without all the boys clinging to the car and wanting to go as well.
The next day we pick the boys up again and headed to Puerto Plata 45 minutes west of Cabarete. We asked Natanael and Chi Chi to think of a kitchen item their Mom's would like or needed and we would purchase it so they may give it as a gift to her when we returned.
So the boys picked out their bikes, they were the type used for stunts, which the boys could immediately perform. We then headed to Casa Nelson, the DR's answer to a department store. Inside the boys picked out plastic cups, bowls, plates, big tubs, strainers, and more. Their Moms were getting a whole new kitchen! They were so excited and so were we. Needless to say the Moms both love the gifts and the boys their bikes.
The next day we set both Natanael and Chi Chi up with their own email addresses and accounts at the local internet cafe, bringing the boys into the new world of communication and discovery. They will need help in paying for time at the Internet Cafe, if any of you are interested in helping with this please let me know and I will facilitate this and you can have the boys email addresses so you too may communicate with them.
We also set Natanael up with a savings account. This was one of the most difficult things we have ever tried in the DR. We needed the assistance of our bank in the States in order to make this happen and we thank long time friend Diane Stewart from Webster Bank for helping us get this done. This savings account will help Natanael save a small portion of whatever money he makes as a Shoe Shine Boy and the other will go to help feed his family. He can save money for a motor bike and provide taxi service or for additional education.
Chi Chi does not speak English so we purchased one year of English classes for him at a school just next to his regular school. The classes are from 7 to 8 am each morning before regular school. We can't wait to see how he makes out. He and his Mom were so grateful. The class is too expensive for the parents to pay for as it is about 9000 RD about $250 for the year. If Chi Chi stays in school and does well we will open a savings account for him when we return.
One of my goals in 2009 and before I return to the DR is to learn Spanish.
Thanks for letting me share.
Charitable Giving 2008
Sweetheart Ball/ Silent Auction
Saint Anthony School, March 2008
Plainville Rotary, March 2008
Scholarships to high school graduates.
Plainville Food Pantry, March 2008
Plainville Fuel Bank, March 2008
Plainville Girl Scouts, March 2008
Student Loan Funds
PHS Baseball Team, March 2008
Connecticut Sports Management Group, March 2008
CT Senior Games
Burlington Little League, April 2008
Almada Lodge-Times Farm Camp Corporation June 2008
Annual Garden of Hope auction
Howard H. Belkin Memorial Golf Tournament, July 2008
Greater Waterbury YMCA, July 2008
5th Annual WestConn Poker Run-Benefit
YMCA Camp Scholarship program
CT Breast Health Initiative, August 2008
Beauty Entourage, September 2008
Sickle Cell Anemia, October 2008
CCAR, September 2008
(Connecticut Community Addiction Recovery INC)
Gishrei Shalon Jewish Congregational, September 2008
Annual Action Fundraiser
Klingberg Family Center, November 2008
New Britain, CT
Plainville Food Pantry, December 2008
Cabarete Dominican Republic Village School, December 2008
Baseball equipment delivered donated equipment by Mike Church of Diamond Kings baseball/softball academy, 54 Dolphin Road, Bristol CT http://www.dkacademy.com/
American Cancer Society's, Relay for Life
Show Us Your Inner Beauty & We'll Show You Ours
On June 14th and 15th at Norton Park as we walk around the track for a continuous twenty-four hours. It will be fun. Please join us. Or, If you would like to join Barbara's Angels in our walk, sign up at the spa.
Can't make it to the event?
We will be collecting donations at reception, purchase a relay nametag, enter to win a special edition pink beach cruiser bike or a lavender ipod shuffle for a dollar and we will make the donation for you.
This year one of our dear Lavender Fields Day Spa employees had to say good-bye to her Mother. Kaitlyn's mother (Barbara) lost her fight with cancer and we all are rallying to support her. We have teamed up as "Barbara's Angels", Lavender Fields Day Spa employees Relay for Life team.
Barbara's Angels will donate their time and Lavender Fields Day Spa will donate 100% of sales on Sunday May 4th to raise money for the American Cancer Society's, Relay for Life.
- All of the Staff at Lavender Fields Day Spa