Due to civil unrest that started in April 2018, our Learning Center in Nicaragua has been operating with minimal funding and without international volunteers for almost a year. The funding gap this has created is significant and needs to be closed in order for us to keep our Learning Center in Nicaragua open through the end of 2019. That’s why Outreach360 will be participating in Arizona Gives Day for the first time since 2015. By scheduling a donation to Outreach360 through Arizona Gives Day we can not only raise the necessary funds together but also help Outreach360 win an additional $1,000 for having the most pre-scheduled donations on April 2nd.
Despite having to close our Volunteer Program and therefore going without international volunteers and the funds they typically bring with them, we have worked hard to ensure that our students are able to continue learning with us; we have maintained our regular Monday – Friday schedule for all of our students. Our in-country staff and local volunteers are stretched and have shown great perseverance and creativity as they work with our students. They are doing a great job keeping our students engaged and learning. Currently, our students are studying hard for their final exams for their English levels. We have placed a lot of emphasis on their English writing skills as well as promoting good reading skills. In addition to our English programming, we have also been able to continue focusing on Spanish Literacy and Math.
Last year we held a successful fundraising campaign called “87 Heroes” and raised the funds needed to operate our Learning Center through to the end of 2018. We don’t currently have enough monthly sponsors to cover the full costs associated with operating our Learning Center and now that we are approaching almost a year without our international volunteers, we have an urgent call to raise the necessary funds to cover our funding gap of $40,000 in order to keep our Learning Center open through the end of 2019. We can’t imagine having to close our doors on our students but that could become a reality if we aren’t able to raise the necessary funds.
Your donation will help ensure that our students in Nicaragua are able to continue to attend Learning Center classes Monday through Friday, have access to the incredible educational opportunities Outreach360 has to offer, and ultimately, have a path towards a Life of Choice, be it vocational training or a university degree, through Outreach360’s Adelante+ program. Participation in this fundraiser is very easy: 1. Go to https://www.azgives.org/outreach360 2. Click the “Donate” button. 3. Fill out the donation form on the following page and be sure to click the “Scheduled for AZ Gives Day” button under Donation Type. 4. Share this incredible opportunity (and instructions) to keep our Learning Center open for the students in Nicaragua with your personal network!
For those of you who traveled as an Outreach360 volunteer to the Dominican Republic between 2015 and 2017, you’ll remember OLÉ Leader turned Team Leader turned Site Director, Beth Anderson. For the first time in nearly two years, Beth will be returning to Monte Cristi as a Group Leader on her alma mater’s alternative break trip.
Beth is currently the Assistant Director at Southern New Hampshire University’s Chandler Center (formerly the Center for Community Engaged Learning). SNHU sends student volunteer teams down to Outreach360’s site in Monte Cristi, the Dominican Republic annually and it was on one of those trips that Beth was first introduced to the organization. Naturally, she jumped at the opportunity to support in leading her students on the exact trip that had such a big influence on her just four years ago.
Our Development Director, Audrey Sharp, who served alongside Beth for their first six months on staff in the Dominican Republic interviewed Beth on her upcoming return to Monte Cristi.
Audrey: Pretend we’re not best friends and I don’t know everything about your life. Beth: Ok. Woo! Here we go.
Audrey: Hey Beth! Beth: It’s good to see you! Audrey: How are you? Beth: Good! Thanks for taking some time to talk to me today. Audrey: No, thank you! So, how long has it been since you were last in Monte Cristi? Beth: Umm… let’s see. I left May 30th, 2017 so it has been a little over a year and a half. Yeah, it will be two years this May. Audrey: And so you’re heading back on March 9th. And who are you going with? Beth: I’m going down with Southern New Hampshire University’s alternative break team. Audrey: Does it feel full circle for you to go from volunteering as a student to working for Outreach360 and then coming back with students of your own? Beth: Oh it does feel so full circle! It’s weird. When I think about it… I’ve almost done every single piece of alternative break. Right? Like I was a participant and then I was a trip leader and then I was a community partner and now I’m an advisor. And so… aside from running the alternative break program, I’ve really done every piece of it. And that’s especially true with Outreach360, going from volunteer to an OLÉ volunteer to Team Leader and right to Site Director and now as someone who still stays as actively involved as I can in the goings-on, it’s kind of interesting.
Audrey: Do you feel in every layer of the alternative break world that you get into that you’re still getting something new out of the experience? Beth: Yeah! I think it’s all how you look at it. Every time I have a different experience with Outreach360, I’m asking myself what I can bring to it but also what I can get out of it. As a first-time volunteer with Outreach360, it was very much like, “I don’t know anything here so I’m just going to jump in and see how it goes.” Whereas now the experience is more about the volunteers and making sure that my students are getting a lot out of the experience. I could go into it acting like I already know everything; that’s a really easy mentality to take on, especially after having been there for two years and being the community partner, but for me, this still is a new experience. I’ve never been an advisor before so trying that on and making sure that the students are basically having that first-time experience that I did is important for me. Audrey: I think with alternative breaks, we tend to use hyperbolic language, like “It was life-changing,” or “I’m bringing so much back from this trip,” but you don’t necessarily get the specifics. So, I’m curious… What are the specific thoughts or memories or concepts you want your students to come back with? If you had to pick three, what do you think they’re most likely to get out of it and/or you’re hoping they get out of it? Beth: That’s a great question! I think what I hope they get out of it is: 1. A deeper understanding of themselves and their roles and responsibilities as it relates to the community. I want them to walk away feeling like even though it is a different community with a different culture, they can still have successes and triumphs. 2. I hope they build some meaningful relationships with people in Monte Cristi. It’s a really special place in my heart and those people have forever changed the way that I think and view the world and other people from other cultures. I hope they are able to gain some cultural competency from that. 3. Deeper connections with each other and themselves; I hope they come to understand that nobody can do this work on their own and that the week that they have together reinforces their belief in humanity and that we all need each other. Audrey: That’s such an important lesson! Beth: Yeah! Audrey: On a personal level, what are you most excited about? Beth: I’m most excited to reconnect with everyone there! The Outreach360 staff, students, and community members. It feels like visiting family I’m overdue to see! And of course, the food.
Audrey: What are you most excited to eat? Beth: Oh, literally everything! I’ve been thinking about this a lot actually… no surprise. I just want all the food, like rice and beans, stewed chicken… like I can’t. Sweet plantains, tostones, and I can’t wait to visit Mecho and have some juice. Audrey: Are there any souvenirs or Dominican treats that you’re already planning on bringing back? Beth: Yes! Chokis, it’s a chocolate chip cookie, kind of like a Dominican Chips Ahoy but it also has chocolate in the middle. And I’ll definitely bring back some Santo Domingo coffee. I’ll try to bring back as much as I can. I miss that coffee a lot. Audrey: So, you’ve stayed a Touch the Future student sponsor this whole time, starting back when you were an OLÉ. Why do you continue to sponsor students in both our programs? Why is that important to you? Beth: That’s a great question! It’s because I believe in the work that’s being done. And when I was there, it was really easy to see the work the volunteers were doing, it was easy to make that connection in real time. But I also understood that we couldn’t have done that without the support of donors who had decided to stay involved. So for me, it is a no brainer. I am, of course, going to stay involved however I can. The students clearly want this opportunity so why wouldn’t I do anything in my means to make that possible? Audrey: Finally, what is your favorite Outreach360 principle and why? Beth: Man… they’re so near and dear to my heart and I say that with no sarcasm. I love those principles so much. I think it’s a great way to live your life. I still think “poco a poco” is one of my favorites… just because it speaks to the work of social change. Things don’t happen fast and they don’t happen easily but it doesn’t mean that they’re any less important or that you should give up and stop doing it. So, little by little, every piece of the puzzle matters and every person contributes to something and I think when people realize that and connect to it, a lot of change can happen because you have so many forces working towards it. I think people can often get frustrated with progress. And I’ve been there too. So I think it’s important to have something to fall back on and for me, I think “poco a poco” does that. It keeps me humble.
Beth and Audrey will both be in the Dominican Republic next week so connect with Outreach360 on Facebook and Instagram for live videos and updates from the program!
Aidil Acosta (21) is an Adelante Plus student with Outreach360. She is currently studying medicine at a university in the capital of the Dominican Republic, Santo Domingo, on her way to becoming a doctor. During her breaks from school, Aidil returns to her hometown, Monte Cristi, to teach English and Spanish literacy to Outreach360 students in the Learning Center where she spent much of her own childhood! As a Serve-Study student, Aidil receives an Outreach360 sponsorship to cover the costs of her schooling.
Since I was around 8 years old I was participating in Outreach360 camps, but officially I started at the Learning Center when I was 12. I graduated from the Learning Center in 2012 and now I am studying medicine at the Autonomous University of Santo Domingo (UASD).
What does Outreach360 mean to you? Outreach360 means hope to me, it means future and an open door to limitless opportunities.
Why is education important? For me, education is important because it gives us knowledge of the world around us and changes it into something even better. It develops in us a perspective of looking at life. It helps us build opinions and have points of view on things in life. It makes us capable enough to understand the world and its habitats and respect everything and everyone in a better way.
How do you see Outreach360 volunteers making an impact in Monte Cristi? The work done by the volunteers throughout the years has impacted my life. From teaching me English and showing me, always with a smile and a good attitude, that there is so much more than what I could see in this small city, that there was so much more out there that I could see and experience, and that my dreams were never too big, because everything is possible for those who believe and work hard to pursue their dreams. I believe this kind of impact is what the volunteers are having with all of the kids they come in contact with and not only them but also their families.
What is your favorite memory growing up with Outreach360? My favorite memory growing up with Outreach360 is getting to meet so many wonderful people (the volunteers) from different places and that I had the opportunity at such a young age to make many friends from other parts of the world that I never even knew about.
What is your dream for your future? My dream is to become a doctor and help my people and change people’s lives by giving back with what grace I have received: love and service.
Is service important to you? Service is very important to me because service teaches one to be selfless. An act of service allows a person to think first about the needs of others and then to consider how he or she may be of help. Service is the selfless act of giving others what they could not provide for themselves. The act has the potential to transform not only others but also the person who performs the service.
We are so excited to announce that we have an anonymous donor who will be giving $10,000 to Outreach360 at the end of December when we meet our year-end fundraising goal of $30,000! So, to kick off an exciting month of fundraising, we are launching, for the first time ever, Outreach360’s 14 Days of Giving! It’s a daily contest in which donors like you enter daily to win amazing prizes, like Outreach360 water bottles and t-shirts and even some vintage Orphanage Outreach gear. It’s easy to enter, all you need to do is donate to the 14 Days of Giving fundraising page.
For every $10 you donate, we’ll enter your name into a daily drawing and an additional name in our Grand Prize bucket. At the end of each day we’ll pull out a name, announce the winner and then start over the next day, but throughout the two weeks, names will accumulate to win the Grand Prize. The Grand Prize is a $1,800 credit towards an Outreach360 trip! To put that into perspective for you, $1,800 would cover the cost of two individuals volunteering for a week, the cost of one person volunteering for three weeks or would cover more than 50% of the cost for an eight-week Caminos Internship (see a breakdown of our volunteer costs). There are only 14 days to win the daily prizes so spread your donations out across multiple days or go all in on one of the days for a higher chance of winning, but no matter what, we’ll continue adding your name to the Grand Prize drawing!
As 2018 comes to a close, and we reflect on the past year, we can’t help but feel overwhelming gratitude for all that our supporters have made possible. In Nicaragua, despite current unrest, we’ve managed to not only keep the Learning Center open to our students but have also expanded programming to include university prep for our high school students! And in Monte Cristi, we had a record-making summer with a vocational-themed six-week Dare to Dream Camp for our Learning Center students, in which they learned about professions in STEM, the performing arts, and tourism and were even able to take field trips around the country relating to the professions that they learned about. For many of our students, this was their first opportunity to travel outside of Monte Cristi.
We already have a lot to look forward to in 2019. We are hopeful our volunteer program in Jinotega will reopen in the summer and volunteer-run English lessons and neighborhood camps will start back up. In the Dominican Republic, we are preparing to enroll a whole new class of fifth-grade students into the Learning Center. In the first few months, they will be learning how the program works and preparing for their English education with an intensive Spanish literacy program.
With so much to look forward to, there’s also a lot of preparation that needs to be done. That’s why our December goal is so important and why an anonymous donor has stepped up to help make our 2019 goals possible! It’s not lost on us that we couldn’t do any of it with you, that’s why with the 14 Days of Giving we’ll be able to give back some to you for all that you give. Never forget, YOU are Outreach360! We’re so proud to have you in our family.
This holiday season, Outreach360 would like to celebrate with our service family. Your support has upheld our organization in Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic throughout the years. Without you, Outreach360 could not hope to have served and educated over 10,000 students since 1994. This means that the students who have worked their way through our English language learning programs may have a life of choice; a life of their own making outside of the limits of poverty; a life where their dreams will become reality.
The Outreach360 Nicaragua staff has seen your service in action. Because of you, we are on own way to having a new Learning Center built in Jinotega, Nicaragua. In addition, Outreach360 was able to accept 50 new students into the Nicaragua Learning Center program in late September 2017. This would not be possible without your dedication to seeing our program grow.
Outreach360 would like to celebrate the holidays with you, as well as our triumphs in 2017. The Outreach360 Nicaragua staff has put together a video for you to wish you happy holidays. Click the photo below to watch:
How can you stay involved?
Support our year-end fundraiser! The 2017 Outreach360 Holi-Yay Fund Days campaign is a year-end fundraiser. Your donation will be used where it is needed the most. The Holi-Yay Fund Days fundraiser supports the Outreach360 mission of providing opportunities for underserved children in Latin America to live a life of choice.
Our year-end fundraiser ends on New Year’s Eve. Invite your family and friends to celebrate the 2017 Outreach360 Holi-Yay Fund Days campaign, and donate yourself. Do not miss out on this opportunity to give back to underserved children in Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic. Together, we can continue to make a difference on a global scale.
Outreach360 volunteers are the heart of the organization. Without their dedication to serving year after year, Outreach360 would cease to exist. We continuously tell our volunteers, “You Are Outreach360“. This principle sheds light on the motivated individuals who aspire to make a difference in the world: Outreach360 volunteers. The majority of labor and funds integrated into the program come from volunteers, and Outreach360 is forever grateful for their support.
Pictured here is Audrey Sharp, the Outreach360 Associate Marketing Manager, surrounded by Nicaraguan Learning Center students.
Audrey Sharp, Outreach360 Associate Marketing Manager, explains,” Outreach360 doesn’t exist without you. It just doesn’t. The hardest part of an Outreach360 volunteer trip is having to leave at the end of it. I remember coming back from my first trip with Outreach360 and feeling a little lost. I decided to start donating monthly to the program thinking that if I couldn’t be with the students then at least I could be contributing in my own way to their education. It wasn’t until I came on staff that I truly understood what Outreach360 had been trying to tell me when they said to volunteers YOU are Outreach360. The truth is that our donors are as integral to the organization as our volunteers and our students.”
Putting on the Outreach360 volunteer t-shirt further inducts you into the “You Are Outreach360” circle. Outreach360 volunteers are recognized by local community members in Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic. When volunteers wear the Outreach360 t-shirts, they are representing Outreach360 in the communities they serve. It is common for volunteers to be welcomed by a chorus of students and locals saying “hello, teacher” while walking through town. The Outreach360 name is as recognized as our volunteers.
“It is important to remember volunteers are not here to ‘help’ Outreach360, they ‘are’ Outreach360. Outreach360 relies heavily on its volunteers, and every single individual matters. Being a part of Outreach360 can and will contour your perspectives and inspire your knowledge of the culture and life in Nicaragua [and the Dominican Republic],” Adrian Nguyen, a former volunteer from Virginia Commonwealth University, said.
Outreach360 strives to make your volunteer experiences memorable. Outreach360 staff is mindful of your expectations. We are conscious of our volunteers’ desire to learn throughout their time in the Dominican Republic and Nicaragua. Volunteering with Outreach360 will facilitate your development in the knowledge of a new culture, as well as help to improve your leadership skills. This growth all ties back into the “You Are Outreach360” experience. While “You Are Outreach360”, we know you are also an individual who is eager to expand their global awareness. Outreach360 will serve you to achieve your goals.
Outreach360 Leader Andrea Deleo Urcuyo teaches a Nicaragua Learning Center student during class.
Outreach360 Leader Andrea Deleo Urcuyo says, “The volunteers are Outreach360, and I can see that especially at the Nicaragua Learning Center. The volunteers share their love and their knowledge with the students. We remind the volunteers about the principles, like “You Are Outreach360″, during meals. We get to help them realize that they are Outreach360 during debriefs at the end of the day. The debriefs are a really a special moment where volunteers get to talk about the teaching lessons and the impact they are having on the students. Debriefs really help volunteers understand that without them, the Outreach360 program would look entirely different. We are so happy to have volunteers here because they are experts in the English language. It’s a great opportunity for our students and for children around the world to learn English.”
The service organization search can be overwhelming; however, with Outreach360 it makes for an easy decision. Outreach360 can calm all of your pre-volunteering-jitters by providing you with a safe and affordable service experience in the Dominican Republic and Nicaragua.
According to BreakAway.com, there is a list of criteria that service minded individuals should consider when researching international volunteer programs. Their list evaluates housing standards, on-site security, program amenities, community partner connections, the capability to work with a volunteer team, language, the potential for long-term relationships, need, issue specificity, education and direct service, community development and sustainability, an intermediary organizational model, and reorientation.
We know what you are thinking. That’s a lot of ground to cover. Contemplating the items on this list is essential to ensure that you find a service organization that is right for you. Although this list is long, Outreach360 promises to meet each standard ultimately providing you with the best volunteer service experience in Latin America. Here is a break down of each criterion:
Outreach360 volunteersshare simple, comfortable rooms with modern bathrooms, and enjoy common areas ideal for relaxing or visiting with other volunteers. Meals are served at the Outreach360 volunteer centers and include both local favorites and North American classics prepared by our professional staff. There is always plenty of clean, purified drinking water available. Check out some video tours of our accommodations here!
Outreach360 volunteer safety is our top priority! We manage our own facilities and have full-time international and local staff leading our volunteers in each country. They live and work full-time in-country, and facilitate the volunteer experience. Working with people who live in the country where you are serving is key to ensuring your safety – they know the country, the community, and the neighborhood where you will be volunteering. Their first priority is your safety! We also orientate all of our volunteers on basic health, safety and respectful living guidelines that ensure volunteer safety. We know that traveling abroad can raise some concerns but please know that Outreach360 considers all of our volunteers to be members of our service family. We keep our family safe and out of harm’s way during their stays in the Dominican Republic and Nicaragua.
3. On-Site Amenities
Housing, meals, ground transportation and medical insurance are all included as a part of your minimum program donation with Outreach360. We employ trained cooks, drivers, and manage our own facilities to keep you healthy and safe.
4. Personality of Community Partner Connection
After over twenty years of working with students, families, and individuals, Outreach360 knows a thing or two about working with volunteer groups – it’s what we live for! We’ll do everything in our power to make it a powerful experience for you and the communities we serve. Our volunteers are affectionately recognized in the community and are embraced by community members.
5. Capability to Work with a Volunteer Team
Outreach360 has a well-trained staff of leaders that are accustomed to supporting between one and a couple hundred volunteers in a given week. We work hard to also accurately optimize the impact that each volunteer team has on the community. Many of our volunteer teams return year-after-year and we welcome them with open arms. We hope our program inspires large groups of volunteers to travel with us again and again.
Don’t speak Spanish? No worries! Outreach360 is working with students in learning English; the more exposure they have to the English language the better! And, if you are joining us to practice and improve your own Spanish, there will be plenty of opportunities for that as well! Outreach360 staff members are able to communicate in both Spanish and English to support you with any needs you might have
7. Potential for Long-Term Partnerships
Outreach360 doesn’t just have a long-standing relationship with the communities it serves, but also with the volunteer groups that come down regularly. We are proud of the relationships we maintain with dozens of middle schools, high schools, colleges, families, and individuals. Outreach360 encourages volunteers to return to serve each year. The presence of Outreach360 volunteers alone in the communities it serves has had an enormous impact on local organizations, businesses, and cooperatives. We have partnered with local cooperatives and businesses for a significant amount of time to promote sustainability in the communities we are located in.
Outreach360 works to understand the needs of each community where we are serving. We encourage all of our volunteers to embrace the principle Serve, Don’t Help as a guiding force in our programs. We work to implement our programs in a way that is in line with good sustainable development practices.
9. Issue Specificity
The Outreach360 core purpose and the reason for Outreach360 to exist is to Release the Hero Within. It starts with Releasing the Hero Within the kids we are working with, their families, and the communities where they live. As we work to Release the Hero Within them, we Release the Hero Within ourselves, and within all the friends and family involved in this effort. Education is at the core of our direct service work. We believe that education is the most sustainable way to make an impact in the world. Through education, our vision is a transformed world where every person grows up to live a life of choice. We’re constantly striving to make the greatest and most direct impact possible through education.
10. Education and Direct Service
Although providing direct service is the primary focus of our volunteer trips, we also offer cultural and educational experiences throughout the week. Volunteers will participate in powerful, rich cultural experiences as a means to enhance their volunteer experience. Get ready for an adventure of a lifetime in which you will make an incredible impact!
11. Community Development and Sustainability
Involving and engaging community members is a priority for Outreach360. Many of our staff members come from the communities and countries in which we work, including our teaching staff, our kitchen staff, and community members hired for facility maintenance. Our volunteers are vital in providing resources, services, and a cultural interchange otherwise not accessible to the community. Outreach360 emphasizes the principle “poco a poco,” or little by little, to show volunteers that their week of service is an important link in a long chain of change and progress. Read this Outreach360 blog post to discover more ways Outreach360 values sustainability: https://outreach360.org/blog/sustaining-sustainability-outreach360/
12. Intermediary Organization Model
The communities Outreach360 serves and the organization itself are wonderfully intertwined. The organization acts as the medium through which volunteers make connections and partnerships with the communities in which they serve. An important balance of service, cultural immersion, reflection, and appropriate guidelines (highlighting health, safety, and respectful living) are all maintained and facilitated by Outreach360.
At the end of the week, your team will participate in an all group reflection about the week. We encourage all volunteer teams to take what they have discovered back to their communities, campus, and networks to expand on the work they have started with us. Reorientation is a powerful way to continue making an impact by spreading awareness of key global issues.
Pictured here is Beth Anderson, n former Outreach360 Dominican Republic Site Director.
It is essential to the Outreach360 experience for volunteers to acknowledge themselves during their time with us. The ability to acknowledge yourself and the impact you have abroad will open doors to domestic and international service opportunities. This is why “Acknowledge Yourself” is the first Outreach360 volunteer and staff principle.
Acknowledging yourself can mean different things to different people. Beth Anderson, the former Outreach360 Dominican Republic Site Director, explains, “To me it means taking a moment to reflect and be proud of what I’m doing, knowing that I’m making a commitment not everyone is willing to do but then, once that moment is over, it’s time to get to work and serve. To volunteers, I think it holds a very similar meaning. On a more basic level just being proud of yourself and patting yourself on the back.”
Without first recognizing the steps you have taken to serve internationally, the significance of your involvement in the education of our students will alter. The money, time, and the willingness to push outside of your comfort zone should not go unnoticed, especially by yourself.
Beth says, “I acknowledge myself in different ways, mostly through self-care: taking time to read or listen to music and taking moments to disconnect and be gracious with myself. In a more public way, it would be verbalizing what I am doing and just acknowledging it out loud in a conversation.”
Outreach360 wants to acknowledge our volunteers for the difference they are making in the Dominican Republic and Nicaragua. Very few people are willing to do what our volunteers have done. Their dedication to raise or donate funds, take a week or more of their time, and give up other options to go to another country for the benefit of children in a community unknown to them is remarkable.
Graham Hunt, an Outreach360 Communications OLÉ Volunteer, states, “I suppose that when I think about the principle ‘Acknowledge Yourself’, I think about some of the wonderful moments I’ve witnessed in the classroom, in both Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic. And then I think about all the many pieces that came into play to make those golden moments possible, from the hours spent lesson planning to the months of fundraising and preparing that volunteers invest to make their work with Outreach360 a reality. This principle is about recognizing and celebrating that.”
University of Missouri graduate and former Outreach360 volunteer, Tessa Miles, overlooks mountains in Nicaragua while volunteering with Outreach360.
University of Missouri 2017 graduate and former Outreach360 volunteer, Tessa Miles, is a volunteer worth celebrating. Tessa has volunteered with Outreach360 three times, once in the Dominican Republic and twice in Nicaragua. In January 2017, she led a group of 18 classmates to volunteer in Nicaragua.
Here is what Tessa has to say about the Outreach360 principle “Acknowledge Yourself”: “To me, it means taking the time to think about what you’re doing here at Outreach360 and why your service is important. It’s realizing that you’re making a difference because you have chosen to be here, perhaps while overcoming obstacles that may have deterred you from volunteering. I acknowledge myself by telling others about Outreach360 and its mission, as well as my amazing experiences while serving with them.”
Outreach360 understands that many volunteers had to overcome fears and obstacles including exposure to a different language, not knowing anyone, only knowing Outreach360 from the internet, and potential parental concerns, etc. It is a big deal that our volunteers spend their time with us, and Outreach360 could not be more proud to shine the spotlight on the passionate people, like Beth, Graham, and Tessa, that allow our organization to flourish.
When searching for a sustainable volunteer program, it is important to consider the footprints that the organization leaves behind. Outreach360 believes education is the best sustainable solution to combat poverty in Latin America and provide the children we serve with long-term opportunities to transform their own lives; however, we recognize that is more easily said than done. In order to ensure that our organization is sustainable in the communities we serve in Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic, we take measured steps towards educating groups of students who might one day take over our program, allowing us to pass on our teacher torches. Poco a poco.
Outreach360 recognizes that finding an ideal volunteer program that values sustainability can be difficult. So we decided to make it easy for you. Here are 7 reasons why volunteering with Outreach360 is sustainable:
1. We offer services, de-emphasize materialism.
There is a subtle difference between serving and helping, one that can easily be misinterpreted. Outreach360 is in Latin America to serve, not to help. Our volunteers are directly instructed not to give away money, food, or drink to students or community members in Nicaragua or the Dominican Republic. Outreach360 believes that education is the best sustainable form of service. With education, our students will be able to sustain themselves without help. These are not poor, sick, helpless people. Outreach360 volunteers share their strengths and blessings with community members, and they share their blessings with volunteers. It’s a two-way street.
2. We let the good times grow.
At our two properties in Nicaragua, Outreach360 will be implementing projects involving sustainable agriculture. The agriculture program will provide an opportunity for our students to serve and learn. Students will have the opportunity to learn about agriculture by growing foods like bananas, avocados, and mangos. Outreach360 students can use this knowledge to plant their own gardens at home, providing their families with home-grown food and resources. The food production in our Agriculture & Sustainability Program will provide food to the Outreach360 volunteer program, to the on-site student program, and may be used to generate income for the local program.
3. We buy locally.
Outreach360 embraces a farm-to-table philosophy. The food and produce that Outreach360 purchases for staff and volunteer consumption are purchased in community markets and stores where local farmers sell their food. Additional products that we buy (volunteer bunk beds, furniture, cooking supplies, etc.) are also bought locally. In addition, Outreach360 encourages staff and volunteers to support local businesses while staying in Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic.
4. We hire locally.
The Outreach360 permanent teaching staff in Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic is made up entirely of local community professionals. This is also representative of the kitchen staff at both locations. Outreach360 employs community members for facility maintenance and repairs as well. Former volunteers will affectionately recognize the Nicaraguan policemen that voluntarily escort them up Peña de La Cruz, a mountain located in Jinotega, Nicaragua that volunteers’ hike while staying with Outreach360. Whereas former Dominican Republic volunteers will recognize the local drivers that Outreach360 continuously hires for transportation.
5. We value direct service, not voluntourism.
“It’s not about you.” The countries in which Outreach360 serves are beautiful and worth exploring; however, it is of the utmost importance to Outreach360 that volunteers understand that their time abroad is used to serve. In order to create a sustainable program in which students can become Outreach360 teachers, volunteers participate in direct service, not voluntourism. The impact that Outreach360 volunteers leave on students will pave the way for more knowledge and growth in Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic.
6. We support local co-operatives and industries.
Outreach360 collaborates and works with local co-operatives and industries to support local commerce and culture. Outreach360 brings volunteers to experience local co-operatives and a variety of other local industries. For example, Dominican Republic volunteers tour salt flats and have the opportunity to purchase salt farmed on the island. In Nicaragua, volunteers visit a black pottery co-operative where they learn about the process of making black pottery and get the chance to mold something of their own.
7. We want to pass on our teacher torches.
Outreach360 Adelante Volunteers are returning students that have graduated from the Outreach360 English language learning program. Adelante Volunteers venture back to Outreach360 to teach new students. These individuals serve Outreach360 by creating a sustainable program where students become the teachers. In the near future, Outreach360 will be giving Adelante Volunteers and native teachers the reigns of our program, which will, in turn, allow Outreach360 to branch out to other countries in Latin America.
If you had the opportunity to casually chat with a bunch of Major League baseball players, what would you want to ask them? Maybe you’d want to know what it feels like to step up to the plate in front of 46,000 screaming fans during a critical late-inning moment of a World Series game. Or, maybe you’d just be curious to know how awesome it must feel to sign autographs for adoring fans and effortlessly throw baseballs like laser beams! Well, in anticipation of Outreach360’s inaugural baseball and softball camps that will be taking place this summer, Bryson Adams (Outreach 360 Marketing Director) and I have been in Arizona for the last nine days visiting with Dominican baseball players from around the Major Leagues, and the question that we have been asking each of these ballplayers is this: “What advice and encouragement do you have for the kids growing up back home in the Dominican Republic?”
From wide-eyed Dominican minor leaguers to decade-long veterans of the Major Leagues, the messages these accomplished ballplayers wish to send back to the youth in the Dominican Republic are pretty consistent: study, do your schoolwork, be respectful of your family, community, and teachers, work hard, be disciplined, stay off the streets, don’t let negative peer pressure influence you, and, very importantly, have confidence and faith that you can achieve your dreams no matter how humble your origins may be. Few, if any, of the ballplayers have given specific baseball related advice. Instead of talking baseball, the players have talked about skills that are going to lead to success whether somebody is on the field, in the classroom, or in the working world.
I know our softball and baseball camps this summer in the Dominican Republic are going to bring countless smiles to the faces of the kids we serve. I also know these kids are going to develop and further refine their ball skills. But, what I am most excited about is having the opportunity to join as a team with other volunteers in order to use sport as a vehicle to help deliver life skills and enriching experiences to kids who might not otherwise have these opportunities.
The professional Dominican ballplayers Bryson and I have spoken with may have been the ones to provide the advice/encouragement to kids back home in the Dominican Republic, but Outreach360 volunteers are the ones who are going to have an opportunity to bring that advice/encouragement to life and really light a spark for the kids we serve. Being able to play and share the sport you love with people from a different culture definitely plants the seeds of friendship and provides powerful opportunities for positive intercultural exchange.
No matter your skill level in pelota, as Dominicans like to call baseball, I know that each and every volunteer who comes down to the Dominican Republic will have the chance to really make a difference, whether it be giving a tip on how to field a ground ball, assisting kids in resolving a conflict, encouraging and modeling teamwork, or just simply sharing a high five celebration after a nice hit. Not all of us will get the chance to swing for the fences in a Major League game and sign autographs for the fans, but we can all contribute something positive to the life of a child.
– Conor Arthur, Baseball and Softball Program Director
Our vision is a transformed world in which every child is able to pursue a college degree or to be gainfully employed upon reaching adulthood, enabling them to live a life of choice. Each child will become an active citizen, committed to serving those less fortunate, and be an active friend of the environment.