|Tim Tuccelli, Director of CitiHope DR|
My heart is overflowing with gratitude at this moment. Stop Hunger Now’s Dominican Republic partner, CitiHope has made our welcome and experience here nothing short of incredible. Not a moment has passed without Tim, the founder, and his wife, son or daughters (Juanita, Abraham, Eunice, Tahni) guiding us to and through our next experience. CitiHope receives Stop Hunger Now meals to distribute to orphanages, clinics and schools throughout the country. This week we are visiting CitiHope’s partners to evaluate the impact of Stop Hunger Now meals. Tim and his family have planned not only our visits to their partner agencies, but also scheduled additional activities, like a tour of the Colonial Zone, and lunch and dinner at restaurants they enjoy or ones that will give us the true flavor of the Dominican Republic. In addition, they have set aside time to accompany us on all of the visits to their partners. I have had the chance to talk (and laugh) with Eunice the most and I appreciate her patience while I ask her question after question about the DR, her life, and the work they do. She is making sure we have an enjoyable time, so much so that she has decided that every night we should celebrate some one’s birthday, even though it’s not actually our birthday. At some point during the day, she decides whose birthday it will be, but that person does not find out until the restaurant staff, while singing and accompanied by a small band, places a (free) cake in front of them. Thus far, we have celebrated Erica and Cathy, but there are still several days for us to celebrate several more. This moment, while seemingly totally unnecessary on the surface, provides this incredible space to celebrate one of our classmates. Together we laugh, sing, and wish this person a happy (birth)day. This brief moment provides much needed levity to an otherwise, overwhelmingly emotionally charged day. Eunice believes we should celebrate and enjoy life, and in this moment I see that we do not take the time to celebrate and cherish those around us. We may only be here for one week to help Stop Hunger Now evaluate their meal feeding programs, but every moment has been and will continue to be an incredible chance to celebrate and cherish those around me, and for this I am eternally grateful.
|Mandy with Rose Maria at Jackie's House|