A group of Beach hockey-loving dads will be travelling to the Dominican Republic in February with their teenage children, to offer time, labour, supplies and money to an orphanage, with the added hopes of providing their children with a life-changing experience.
Ryan Vincent has taken employees and franchisees of his Nutrilawn company to the orphanage for several years, through Friends of the Orphans Canada. He realized that the experience might benefit his family, as well.
“I thought this would be a great experience for my kids,” he said.
Vincent took the idea to a group of friends he plays hockey with, and next thing he knew, 10 dads and 14 teens were signed up for the trip. The group will travel to the Nuestros Pequeños Hermanos (NPH) facility in San Pedro de Macoris, from Feb. 8 to 15.
“Obviously it's going to be pretty amazing for the kids,” said Tim Casey, who will be bringing his daughter along. “There's so many good reasons to do this, and the message it will send to the kids will be nothing but positive.”
Each person making the trip is paying $2,500 – about $1,000 of that covers the expense of plane tickets and cost of living while at NPH, with the rest serving as a direct financial donation to the orphanage. The group has also raised about $20,000 through numerous fundraisers, including a charity hockey game played at Kew Gardens, a movie night at the Fox Theatre, and t-shirt and bracelet sales by the younger participants. Added to that will be roughly $40,000 in personal care products (shampoo, conditioner, soap and toilet paper), donated by a Beach business that wishes to remain anonymous. A shipping container filled with the items will be sent out next week.
Aside from its work at NPH, the group will also hold a barbecue at a remote sugar cane village, said Vincent, where the level of poverty may be a bit of a shock to both the teens and the adults on the trip.
“That's going to be a real eye-opener,” he said.
All the teens on the trip, including two of his three daughters, are bringing along an extra suitcase filled with notebooks, stickers, hair elastics and other gifts to give away to the hundreds of children they are expecting to feed at the barbecue.
Vincent said the first time he travelled to NPH “changed my life.” He realized that one person truly can make a difference in the lives of others, and hopes the teens on the trip will come home with the same lesson learned.
“I'm hoping to open their eyes to how other people live and how very blessed and fortunate they are. Not every kid in the world has an iPod, or an iPad. Not only do they not have those, they don't have the things that our kids take for granted every day – shelter, fresh water, food, clothing, education,” said Vincent. “Hopefully it starts with them a culture of giving back and donating to charity and supporting great causes.”
The group of Beach families taking part in the trip have set up a website at renourish2013.com .