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On Saturday February 22nd, a wonderful celebration was held at the Casa de Campo villa of Xiomara and Ramon “Papo” Menendez, and with a grand sum of US$1,190,000 raised for the Hogar del Niño there was certainly an incredible reason to celebrate!
The elegant gathering held annually in the magnificent oceanside terrace of Xiomara and Papo, was on this occasion transformed into a mystical green garden with glowing green and white lighting, as well as ornamental trees and crystal candle holders on the tables which looped around the pool.
Greeted at the threshold by Xiomara and Papo themselves, every inch the elegant hosts we have come to love, the several hundred guests flowed steadily into the party until it felt like the entire Casa de Campo community were present. It is at times like these, when the unity and love shared among our Casa de Campo community really shines, when people of different nationalities, cultures and languages come together in support of a cause that is striving to improve the future of the Dominican Republic, that I feel most proud and honored to be part of this beautiful group of giving caring people.
As donors of the Adopt A Crib scheme, every single person present donates at least US$1,000 every year to the cause, with many more making considerably more generous donations. When Casa de Campo villa owner Phyllis Berney founded the Adopt a Crib scheme in 1998, she did so with such passion and conviction that it is now the Hogar del Niño’s most successful fundraising endeavour.
Following cocktails, the guests enjoyed a delicious dinner and later live music and dancing with Victor Mitrov, yet the most memorable moment of all was the speech presented by Phyllis Berney herself…
“Thank you Papo for your generosity. The fact that you give so generously each year is extraordinary. And our thanks to you and Xiomara for hosting this dinner for the past 17 years. It is also extraordinary. Xiomara, your dedication to the Hogar over so many years is a gift of love.
The Adopt A Crib program this year raised raised one million, one hundred ninety thousand dollars. This is $112,000 more than last year.
I would like to thank Sharon Zuckerman for her great leadership as chairperson over the past year. Her expertise certainly showed as we had the best year we have ever had. Thank you again, Sharon.
This could not be done without the help of our dedicated staff, headed by Sandra Alvarado. She does so much to make our fundraising a success. And of course Xioma Matos, our president. We are so fortunate to have her working on behalf of the children of La Romana. Her leadership is absolutely outstanding.
I’m very proud to announce our chairperson for this year: Anne Engelhorn. Perhaps some of you remember the great Octoberfest that Nina put on for the Adopt-A-Crib dinner several years ago. She’s been one of our best supporters and we look forward to working with her.
When you consider making a charitable gift, it is natural to ask “Is this gift needed? I can assure you that your support of the Hogar del Niño is both needed and appreciated.
The Dominican Republic invests under 3% of their gross domestic production education. Today, only 52% of the children of La Romana complete primary school. We are changing this statistic and the key to our ability to do this is through your contributions.
In 2013 our goal of expanding the school, updating technology, and improving the infrastructure so that our kids can go to school full days rather than half days became a reality. We now have a total of 21 classrooms, with 13 new rooms built in the last year. We have purchased 120 computers, so each classroom has several, and there is a computer lab with 40 machines. Our dream of becoming a model school where the most needy children get the best education is well on its way to becoming a reality.
Phyllis with Claudio Silvestri and Jeannette Sanchez-Lopez
Your generous support is helping us to develop leaders and productive citizens who feel a strong connection to the Hogar. Two graduates of our college scholarship program have returned to work at the Hogar del Niño, one as a dentist and the other as a teacher. We have 21 students on scholarships at university right now, and this program is life changing for these students and their families and in the long term for the Dominican Republic.
An investment of $20,000 will pay for a scholarship for four years. I hope we can expand our support for this important program in 2014.Now with the physical infrastructure and facility improvements in place, what we need most of all at the Hogar del Niño are great teachers. Xioma is working to identify and recruit superior teachers from other countries who have the ability to transform students lives. It is not that our teachers do not care, but they have come through a system that does not prepare them to teach at a higher level. We need experienced, committed teachers who have a passion for their subject matter and can collaborate with and train our current staff. If you have any suggestions for finding these teachers, please be in touch with us.
So, tonight I am asking for your help to create endowments for teachers salaries. With a gift of $20,000 or more we will create a fund in your name which will be a savings account and will support the teachers in the years to come and will definitely impact the future of our children.
William Arthur Ward, who wrote Fountains of our Faith, said “Mediocre teachers tell, the good teacher explains, the superior teacher demonstrates, and the great teacher inspires.”
We need the kind of teachers who will inspire our students to take full advantage of the opportunities they have at the Hogar del Niño.
Thank you for your friendship and support.”
And that is what the Hogar del Niño and the Adopt A Crib Scheme is all about. Thank you Phyllis and thank you to you all, it is your spirit of giving that is building a better, brighter future for everyone.
The following collection of photos were taken during the Adopt A Crib dinner on Saturday February 22nd at the Casa de Campo villa of Xiomara and Ramon “Papo” Menendez in the Bahia Minitas area of Casa de Campo: