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TRIBECA, NY— Upon entering the private venue space on the second level of Saleya Restaurant, I was kindly greeted by a bubbly woman in a bright pink dress. Darlene Cordero is the Special Events Consultant for the Dominican Republic Education and Mentoring (DREAM) Project. Gravitating to her welcoming enthusiasm, I immediately want to know more about the foundation. She candidly told me “So many things that are good about it. It’s my passion.”
I am offered a glass of the signature cocktail, El Sueño, as I prepare to sip and hear all about the DREAM.
Located in the northern region of the Dominican Republic, Darlene describes Cabarete as a city with “charm, very bohemian. You don’t get that anywhere else in DR." For the group of Dartmouth college students down for a semester of volunteering, it was an opportunity to make a positive change. Ten years after those same students, through their hard work and commitment, set in motion what is now a very successful series of educational programs in Cabarete. Since 2002, the DREAM Project is officially recognized a 501(c)3 nonprofit foundation. The DREAM Project's mission continues to thrive with innovative ideas and the support of every individual who gets involved.
On my way to meet and mingle, I came across a Saleya server passing around canapés and oh my word- those balls! Composed of yukon gold potatoes and gruyere cheese, these croquettes where an explosion of taste not be missed! I could NOT stop eating them. Alas, I had to take a breath as I was introduced to the editor of Latin Trends, musical artist Karina Pasian, and the volunteers that just returned home after the completion of a successful DREAM summer program.
The DREAM Project is all about the institution of quality education and integrating their work to positively affect the communities in the Dominican Republic they reach. The organization and its participants strongly believe that a well structured, transformative education is essential in empowering and improving the youth’s future. They facilitate the fortification of communities, unite diverse cultures, and consequently diminish the effects of poverty.
There, here, and anywhere, volunteer opportunities are plenty and contributors can get creative with ways to show support. “Whatever you can do, you do," Darlene explains to me. For example, the venue space for the mixer event was sponsored by Saleya’s owner Dr. Cohen, while the raffle prize was donated from the Gansevoort Hotel Spa; showing how everyone helps in some way with the resources they have.
By the end of the evening, I was full from the delicious nibbles and my heart was warm. The good energy I was surrounded by, the cause and the spirit of giving back really made my night complete. I look forward to doing what I can to support the foundation starting this very instance by raising awareness.
The next event will be held November 12, 2015 at Jay-Z’s 40/40 sports club. Attending the event will be baseball player Robinson Cano who has leveraged the DREAM Project’s strategic platform to build on his own foundation, RC22, doing similar work in other areas of DR. Bachata singer Anthony Santos is also announced to appear.
For more information on how you too can get involved and for details on future events, please visit: dominicandream.org
Ana P. Montes