Rotary planning another trip to the Dominican Republic

MANISTEE — One of the measuring sticks to success is if you leave a place better than how you found it.

The Manistee Rotary Club will once again be taking a group of students to the Dominican Republic Feb. 2-9 for one of their World Service projects. Students pay their own way to take part in helping the citizens of that country with building projects.

The Manistee Rotary Club will once again be taking a group of students to the Dominican Republic Feb. 2-9 for one of their World Service projects. Students pay their own way to take part in helping the citizens of that country with building projects.

Manistee Rotary Club member Daryl Pieczynski has been taking area students through the Rotary World Service Program to the Dominican Republic for many years to work on projects to help citizens from that country. Pieczynski said that feeling of leaving it better than they found it something the students and adult chaperones feel every year.

“This year we will be going Feb. 2-9, but unfortunately we will only have 11 people going this year,” said Pieczynski. “The group we went with from Gaylord decided not to go and the person who spearheads that is unable to do it.”

Pieczynski said they also used to have a group from Benzie go every year, but they are not going either this time.

“We decided to go with just the Manistee group, but we do have one person who is coming from Gaylord,” said Pieczynski. “This will be her third year in a row and she wanted to go back again, so we agreed to take her.

Manistee High School students Abdiel Nunez, Abigail Beaudrie, Cameron Fink and Kiera Raymond will be making the trip as will Manistee Catholic Central student Eric Stickney. Three people who went in the past are Cameron Toczynski, Elizabeth Nelson and Jadelynn Villeme from Gaylord.

“This will be Cam’s fourth year in a row and I told him someday he is going to be the new leader of the group when I retire from it,” said Pieczynski. “Cam feels so strongly about it that if we didn’t have any local students that wanted to go he and myself were going to go anyway.”

Pieczynski said there are some new adults from the local Rotary Club going this year.They are Suzette Redman Wilson and Laura Ortiz.

Students are very excited about the prospect of helping others. One of the students said they were very excited about going and helping the people’s lives out in the Dominican Republic.

“That is what it’s really all about,” said Pieczynski.

Pieczynski said when he initially met with students back in May there was a strong interest in being part of the trip. However, he said as it gets closer to the time to go, the cost of the trip and with college coming up, makes it difficult for them.

“This year we will be going to Los Alcarrizos again and we will be staying at the Lighthouse School, where we have stayed before,” said Pieczynki. “I am kind of excited about what we might be doing as we might be going to San Juan which was the very first area I worked when we went there years ago. It is a pretty large city when you first look at it, but once you start walking away from town and getting into the inner city you start to see what needs to be done.”

The goal Pieczynski said is to work on a community center/funeral home. He said what they hope to do is also visit some of the projects in that area where the Rotarians worked five or six years ago.

“We also will be working on our water purification plant down there as that is still not completed,” said Pieczynski. “I have seen pictures of it and they are making progress.”

To make the trip takes a real commitment from the students as they have to raise their own funds. Students need to raise more than $1,600 for the trip to cover their own personal costs.

“We have a good group who is working hard to raise money and one of the students has already raised half of what they need for the trip,” said Pieczynski. “If you really want to go you can do it.”

Pieczynski said many do it via fundraisers like Stickney, who is doing a spaghetti dinner at the Hof Bar and Grill in Free Soil this Sunday from 1 p.m to 4 p.m. The group will also be selling Crispy Creme Doughnuts and coffee to raise funds.

“We will start that next week and each of the students will have an order form so you can see one of the students or adults,” said Pieczynski. “Those will be sold for two weeks and then it takes about two to three weeks to get in, so that will be a good opportunity to raise some money.”

Pieczynski said anyone who would also like to make a donation to help defray costs can do in a variety of ways. They can do that by contacting Pieczynski at West Shore Bank at (231) 309-6462 or at his cell phone at (231 233-4820.

It is also possible to mail donations to the Rotary postal box at P.O. Box 33 Manistee MI. 49660 with attention to Dominican trip. They can even make it to a specific student at that address.



Posted by Ken Grabowski

Ken is News Advocate’s education reporter. He coordinates coverage for all Manistee County schools and West Shore Community College. He can be reached by phone at (231) 398-3125 or by email at

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