By Maria Arias Hernandez, Summer Work Travel Participant & Greenheart Club Member

Maria was one of four Greenheart Club members who received a $500 grant to complete a Greenheart project in their home country. Maria was eligible to receive the grant because she volunteered 50 hours (the most hours in Summer 2013) for the Greenheart Club during her Summer Work Travel Program this past summer at a family camp. Maria’s grant application was selected because she chose to create a family camp in the Dominican Republic. Below Maria describes her Greenheart Club grant project.

Maria1I call this project “Share a Gift,” because it has been such a gift for me to be able to visit the United States in Summer 2013 with CCI Greenheart. While I worked in California, I volunteered at a single-day family camp called “YES.” I then used the grant money from the Greenheart Club to create a day camp at a park in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic (Parque Mirador Del Norte), for families from La Zurza. There were around 40 people in the project. The money was used to pay for transportation of families to the park, for all park entry costs, and for food and activities for the families while they were at the camp. This was a free day for families to play together and have fun in a natural environment.

My project started on Saturday, December 28th at night, and finished on Sunday, December 29th in the evening. Although the camp didn’t start until later, we started preparing on Saturday night. I was lucky enough to have my neighbors and my mom help me to prepare all food on Saturday night. I was so excited because we wanted to do a good project, and I think the families that participated in the project enjoyed a beautiful day.

Maria2The families played together in the park and shared their time with other families in attendance. We did many activities, like family competitions, drawing, singing, running etc. We had a varied menu to eat; we prepared breakfast, lunch and picnic. All the families enjoyed delicious food.

This was our itinerary:

9:30 Travel to the park.
10:00 We got to the park and started immediately with the breakfast, and after that started the activities (fun time).
12:00 Lunch time.
2:00 Talking about the family and enjoy a free time; just relaxed and appreciate the view.
4:00 Picnic time.
5:00 Share a gift.
5:30 Departure for home.

There are a lot of families in La Zurza that don’t have the opportunity to share in a natural environment, because there are scarce resources. It is for this reason that I selected a park for my project. This fun camping day helped to show the importance of sharing time with family, and appreciate the meaning of spending time those who are important.

Thank you to the Greenheart Club for giving me the opportunity to share a gift with a lot of people that needed a free day outside of our community. We were so thankful for this, especially me, because I wanted to do something good and different for my community, to improve the importance of the family.