Earlier this month I attended a great fundraiser event in New York city celebrating the 20th anniversary of the Dominican Foundation. I was invited by Paul Schenkel, a Microsoft colleague who is also a board member. You see, last year I traveled to the Dominican Republic to attend a CEO retreat at a resort in Punta Cana and had to fly into Santo Domingo instead of Punta Cana. This resulted in a 3 hour drive from Santo Domingo to Punta Cana where I got to see a glimpse of this small island nation and the struggles of the Dominican people and I was touched. Although it was just a short ride it doesn’t take long before you start realize just how different life is on this small island compared to our own lives and how difficult life is must be.
A couple months ago at a Microsoft event I had mentioned this trip to Paul at one point after learning he had lived in the Dominican Republic for a number of years and Paul started to explain to me what he had been doing over the past few years as part of the Dominican Foundation and all of the good the foundation was able to accomplish. So when the opportunity came to learn more about the Dominican Foundation and the work they were doing, I jumped at it.
At the gala I saw how the Foundation and its implementation partners IDDI and the Cigar Family Charitable Foundation have been making an impact in local communities across the island through their programs in education, healthcare and water/sanitation. A highlight for me was meeting Carlos Fuentes Jr. who has channeled millions of dollars from cigar profits into a K-12 school in Bonao, a poor, rural community. Students from the school spoke passionately at the event about how the support has changed their lives, and opened doors to a college education and professional opportunities. One of the most touching stories was a young teen who had a massive brain tumor and was only given a few months to live. Mr. Fuentes, through his charitable organization, helped arrange for proper medical treatment for this young man and today the young man is doing extremely well and has a long and bright future ahead of him. Then there were the other students. Full of enthusiasm, with an unending thirst for knowledge and a passion to succeed and not for wealth and riches but rather so they too can help elevate their communities. Truly the children are at the center of everything these organizations do and for good reason. That was the true inspiration of this event.
Among the Dominican Foundation’s priorities this year are upgrading the computers and software at the school and adding new services at a hospital in Paraiso, a town near the Haitian border. Paul recently approached me about helping the Foundation upgrade its website and I’m working with him to help take their online presence to the next level. I believe we all have a duty to help those less fortunate than ourselves and because of this I’m asking for your help to join me in supporting the Dominican Foundation by making a donation of any amount.