Athletics News

Blue Demons Set for Dominican Republic Service Trip
July 6, 2018

Periodic updates will be posted during the service trip at DePaulBlueDemons.com and the group will be taking over the DePaul athletics Instagram account during their travels.

CHICAGO – Looking to help the less fortunate while gaining insight into another culture, 10 DePaul student-athletes will spend a week in the Dominican Republic working at a home for disadvantaged children.

Instead of spending their summer vacation poolside at a plush resort or hanging out with friends at the beach, these Blue Demons will be working in the fields under a hot Caribbean sun and bonding with the residents of Casa Santa Ana located 40 miles east of Santo Domingo, the nation’s capital and largest city.

Women’s basketball guard Kelly Campbell who went on a similar service trip to Guatemala last year, was selected by DePaul athletics director Jean Lenti Ponsetto to head up this year’s group.

Campbell will be joined by five members of the track and field team---Ariel Davis, Kyle Decker, Laura Edwards, Isaac Jimenez and Evan Lowry along with women’s soccer players Franny Cerny and Adrian Walker, Joe McCarthy from the golf team and Maranda Gutierrez from softball.

The Blue Demons will be accompanied by DePaul chaplain Tom Judge and Ben Gutman of athletics academic advising.

“Jeanne gave me an opportunity to lead our group and I had such a good time last year, I wanted to do it again,” said Campbell, an All-BIG EAST First Team selection last winter. “I remember the positive attitude all the children had despite a tough childhood and being abandoned.

“You could see how much the workers at the orphanage do for the kids, and it was really good to join in and help them.

“There was a lot of manual labor. We’d be out in the fields for four hours and it was really hot down there. The workers were grateful for all the help we provided, and it felt good that we could make their jobs a little easier.”

Casa Santa Ana is part of the Nuestros Pequeños Hermanos network (NPH, Spanish for "Our Little Brothers and Sisters") which is raising more than 3,100 orphaned, abandoned, and disadvantaged boys and girls in Bolivia, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua and Peru. An additional 3,100 children who live outside the homes receive scholarships, meals and healthcare. NPH community outreach programs provided over 140,000 services in 2017.

The boys and girls at NPH Dominican Republic are orphaned, abandoned or disadvantaged. Many have suffered physical and/or verbal abuse, have lived in horrible conditions and have been shuffled from one family member to another.

Like all children, they are seeking love and security and a place they can call home. They are referred to NPH by family members, neighbors or government agencies. When they come to NPH, they range in age from newborn to teenager and are told they will never be asked to leave.

NPH children are welcomed with their brothers and sisters and become a part of the larger, stable NPH family environment that gives them a chance to focus on education and personal growth with supported by a loving support system. The children grow and learn in their culture and language and become contributing citizens in their own countries.

Thousands of pequeños are now self-sufficient adults with families of their own. Many are educators, doctors, accountants, carpenters, farmers, mechanics, artists, administrators and social workers. Some work for NPH in one of the nine countries where they have homes.

Having learned the NPH philosophies of sharing and giving back, others support NPH USA and NPH by sponsoring children, organizing fundraisers, or attending special events and serving as ambassadors for the organization.

“In the morning, we’ll do some landscaping, repairs, clearing the fields around the orphanage plus working in the kitchen cleaning and helping prepare the food,” said Gutman about the orphanage that is home to 150 children with a primary school, a farm, a clinic, a church and sports fields.

“We will eat lunch with the kids at their dorms. After the children are done with classes, we’ll do sports, crafts and games with them. After dinner, there will be presentations from speakers of local Dominican organizations engaged in furthering various social justice concerns. We will close out with reflections from the student-athletes about their day.”

Campbell is glad to be making the trip with nine other caring Blue Demons.

“This says a lot about our student-athletes,” Campbell said. “They could be on vacation or spending their summer on fun activities. Instead, they’ve chosen to help others. It also says a lot about the opportunities DePaul provides for all of us.”

For Gutman, the biggest opportunity is discovering life and people in another part of the world.

“I’m looking for our students to be impacted by coming in contact with another group of students who, despite their circumstances, have so much joy,” Gutman said. “I am hoping that ultimately, they will come back inspired to search out similar opportunities of helping the less fortunate and spreading this to other groups of student-athletes.

“Last year I discovered, and it’s kind of crazy, that despite the language barrier---kids are kids. It was fun to watch the kids at the orphanage become attached to our kids and even more, to see our student-athletes become so attached to the children.”

CBSSports.com

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