Dear Friends,  Spring is one of our favorite seasons – bringing hope and new life into our world!  A lot has happened since our last newsletter: This winter, we celebrated a month of holiday outreaches and events up through Dia de los Reyes. In January, Missionary Lucille met with all our Whole Child and High School Leadership students individually, as she does annually. And, in March our D.R. team and High School Leadership students hosted well-attended Semana Santa outreaches and events!

While special events bring us all great joy and provide terrific photo moments, it is the everyday work that is the glue that holds it all together:

All three sites are running well – Casa de Hilda Central Kitchens & Community Center, the Tamarindo Children’s Center, and the El Saman Children’s Center.  Our care team in the D.R. is beginning to prepare for summer when schools are out of session and numbers historically balloon at our Lunch Plate sites.  We not only will need more meals but they are creating safety plans to make sure that our centers stay orderly and well-run when the headcount increases.

After school, students head to our Learning Circles to do homework and receive tutoring help with reading, writing, and other subjects as needed.  Learning Circle leaders and individual tutors are making a big difference every day in kids’ lives by listening, mentoring, teaching, coordinating with school teachers, and sometimes even caregiving.  Learning Circle leader, Nuris, has been watching over a family of four girls for several months as the Aunt they lived with has not returned from a trip to Haiti. Nuris has been making sure the children have meals, clean laundry for school, and a safe place to turn. These times of going above and beyond truly inspire us.

At the Rooted in Love garden we are planting more guandules, pumpkins, bok choy, and chinola to supplement the lunches with fresh vegetables and fruit. As food prices continue to increase, we are praying for an increased harvest of produce from the garden.

In March we lost a dear friend and faithful co-laborer, Delva Geffrard.  Delva tended the Rooted in Love Garden in Las Ciruelas for many years where produce is grown to supplement our Lunch Plate program.   Tragically, he was injured in a motorcycle accident and died in the hospital several days later.  We mourn along with his family as we miss his daily presence with us.  We are grateful for the great care he gave and for his heart to serve.

This Spring we wanted to spotlight some of the recent ways that our U.S. volunteers are making a difference:
One Father/Son team has been creating and building bunk bed kits and shipping them to the D.R. So many children have been blessed by this labor of love that we call “The Manger Project”.  Once kits arrive in the D.R. they are assembled and delivered.

Several church groups organized crayon and craft supply drives that provided items for craft kits for kids.  On March 12th,  23 volunteers gathered to assemble seasonal craft kits for kids in the D.R.

A recent widow worked with her sewing circle to create adorable “pillowcase dresses and pants.”  These clothing items, sewn with love by the “Sewing Sisters”, became very special gifts presented to children living in poverty.
Volunteers have helped translate letters from sponsors to their sponsor kids from English to Spanish helping sponsors and sponsees connect and share about their lives.
Thank you for praying, caring, and giving in so many ways!
Burnedette MacDonald (Executive Director) and Lucille Wilson (Missionary)