Giving Back — August 24, 2017

Five Lessons from the Dominican Republic

by James Stork

VP James Stork gives fist bumps to children in the Dominican Republic.

Last week, I talked about the impact our trip to the Dominican Republic had on my son, my wife and me. It was great to take a bird’s-eye view of the trip, but I also wanted to share some more specific impressions we had.
Amidst our travels around the DR with Healing Waters International (HWI), I stumbled on these five takeaways.

People need perspective.

I have been on a few HWI trips, and it’s special every time. Seeing my wife and son experience the people of the DR and learn the importance of what HWI is doing to help transform communities was my biggest takeaway. Gaining that perspective changes the way you think about life and inspires you to serve and support others, and to see God in everything.

People need people.

Sometimes people just need a hand. We need to look out for and support one another, from our family to our neighbors down the street, our local communities and our global communities. If you have been blessed, bless others.
I hope my son was able to see this and that it eventually stirs a fire in him to look for ways he can reach out to those around him.

Two men from the Dominican Republic show a young boy how to filter clean water.

People need clean water.

Clean water leads to a healthier lifestyle, and good health leads to more resources and abilities to care for yourself and others. Clean water also means more time — more time in school, more time with family, more time serving others and more time for work. Clean water is the catalyst for holistic change in a community: a physical, spiritual, economic and social game changer.

People need a purpose.

HWI’s model is community focused, and it provides a solution that empowers locals to lead the water project as their own. Assisted by HWI-led training in system maintenance and business skills, local leaders are able to use the water filtration system to provide clean water at a fraction of the cost of commercial water suppliers. Those water systems then generate enough income to cover system maintenance and create invest opportunities in other community services.

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People need interaction, words or not.

I’m a sports guy, so a highlight of the trip for me was getting to play baseball and basketball with kids from the communities we visited. Trying to set up 5-on-5 using my limited Spanish was kind of funny, but once we started playing basketball, we rarely needed words to move the ball up and down the court.

And we had the same experience playing baseball with the kids from Hoyo Oscuro. There’s so much to be shared with people from other cultures and countries, language barrier or not. In some ways, it’s more special when verbal communication is limited; let’s face it, sometimes words just get in the way.

I’m still working on my Spanish, but I’ve learned that a game of catch is a great icebreaker.

Bringing the lessons home

I was glad to be able to share these lessons with my family firsthand, and it was another great reminder of the why behind our relationship with HWI. At, we’re passionate about using what we’re good at (taxes, of course) to make a global difference.

To learn more about our $2-per-return donation to HWI (even if the return is free to the filer) and our support of their mission, check out our Giving Back page.

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