ITC Chief Operating Officer Volunteers in the Dominican Republic
This August, the ITC’s Jim Lingberg, along with his wife and two daughters, spent their family vacation on a service trip in the Dominican Republic. For 8 days the family helped patients at local medical and dental facilities, distributed food, clothes, and supplies to families, and helped with community-improving construction projects in the province of Quisqueya.
His trip, sponsored in part by the ITC, extended the AFL-CIO philosophy of community improvement and job creation to those in desperate need, regardless of borders. Those helped by Jim and his team of church volunteers are still being affected by the catastrophic earthquake that ravaged Haiti and the Dominican Republic in 2010, and over 34% still live below the national poverty line.*
“It sounds cliché, but it’s the truth – you don’t know how lucky you are until you do something like this – until you see how people live, on dirt floors, without bathrooms or drinking water,” said Lingberg. “I am grateful to have just had the opportunity to help. The small changes we made will have a big impact. I hope this experience stays with me and my family, that we can all remember just how blessed we are.”
Lingberg and fellow volunteers helped to pour concrete floors in the homes of two families who previously had dirt floors and no bathrooms. They also built a communal latrine for the neighborhood. These small improvements will make a world of difference for the health of these families, keeping insects and parasites from their homes. The construction team also built an enclosed community center in one of the poorest areas of Santo Domingo and turned an empty building into a convenience store to bring goods and revenue into a rural neighborhood.
The family also assisted in giving showers, haircuts, new clothes and food to over 120 children in the community. For many children, it was the first shower they have ever had. They also introduced kids to lacrosse, teaching them the fundamentals of the sport with equipment donated by local athletes and a Maryland-based equipment supplies company.
Lingberg hopes to return to the Dominican Republic to continue working with these families in the coming years, a sentiment echoed by his daughters. “That’s a proud moment for a father when after asking your daughters to spend their summer vacation helping others, they ask you when they can get to do it again.”
*According to The World Bank.