Don't Do For Others...
In our generosity, it’s very easy to start to do things for other people that they could do for themselves. We want to create an environment where we are empowering people, not disempowering them.
Americans and Canadians often see the poverty of material things in the areas where we work, and want to fill the need by collecting and giving away things – baseballs, clothes, food, toys, etc. The people we are working with will get along without all our “stuff”, and will probably be better off without it. At Outreach360, we want to be alert to the poverty of opportunity, and fill those gaps. We feel the best way to do that is through education.
Focus on Relationships
We also want to focus on person-to-person relationships in the areas where we are working. We want the children to look forward to seeing the volunteers not for the stuff they bring, but for the education they provide and the relationships and interactions that are made possible.
Meet Real Needs
We avoid “make work” for our volunteers. We work to meet real needs in the communities where we work with the unique resources of the volunteers who join us. We believe the number one need that our volunteers can meet with their unique resources is in the area of education.
As an organization, Outreach360 focuses on maintaining sustainable development practices that engage and empower volunteers and donors to make a difference in developing countries.
Outreach360 was originally incorporated in 1995 as Orphanage Outreach to assist an orphanage in the Dominican Republic. As the Orphanage Outreach volunteer program grew, much more of our effort expanded on on supporting disadvantaged neighboring communities. The focus was on education—English, literacy, and community health. To more accurately represent our community efforts, Orphanage Outreach began doing business as Outreach360 in 2011.
As generous as it seems, it is actually very arrogant and condescending to travel to the Dominican Republic or Nicaragua to “work with the poor people, or the poor children”. The people we work with are very alive, vibrant, intelligent, dynamic, and capable. They are rich in many areas where Americans and Canadians are poor. Look beyond the material poverty. We are there to serve, and usually they are there to serve as well. It is a two way street, the inter-cambio (interchange) of the different cultures is a very important part of our program.
Relief vs. Development
A relief organization is one that exists to serve for a very short time, in the event of a catastrophe or emergency – when people urgently need food, clothes, medicine, shelter. A development organization works more long term, to provide a more lasting change. Outreach360 seldom serves as a relief organization, passing out food, clothes, etc. – only in the case of a temporary local emergency. Our efforts are long term, focusing on education to make a lasting change.
Involve Local Resources
A desire of Outreach360 is to involve local resources in the work that we are doing, not just as paid workers and vendors, but also as volunteers and partners. Long term, our direction is that our programs will be administered and managed by local people, perhaps the children growing up studying at our Learning Centers. We will honor all volunteers and people working with Outreach360 by maintaining high expectations and standards in all that we do.