Category Archives: Volunteers

4 Months in the Dominican Republic


Meet Lisette Rodriguez, a Los Angeles native who just wrapped up four months in the Dominican Republic as our amazing Good Neighbors International Volunteer. Now that she’s back in the states, she’s sharing her thoughts on going abroad and her top four memories:   

I arrived in the Dominican Republic four months ago as a volunteer in international development. I didn’t know what to expect, but I knew that I wanted to learn and help as much as I could. In reflecting on my experience working with Good Neighbors Dominican Republic, there have been so many meaningful, educational, and life-changing experiences. Here are some of the highlights…

  1. Personajes Fantásticos de Chinguelo Workshop

Personajes Fantásticos de Chinguelo was a painting and photography workshop that was a collaborative endeavor between Good Neighbors Dominican Republic and Proyector de Sueños, a non-profit arts organization. Through this two-day workshop, kids in the community of Chinguelo had the opportunity to express their personal identity by creating fun masks from the natural materials in their environment. They even learned photography skills and had a photo shoot with their newly created masks. This was such a wonderful exercise in creativity and self-expression! I loved watching every minute of it unfold and the kids had a great time.


DSCN8903The kids of Chinguelo learning photo skills, above, and exploring the forest together to find materials for their masks.

L1180312 One of the many amazing, original creations the kids came up with!

  1. Working with the California Institute for Social Business

It was such a pleasure to work with students from the California Institute for Social Business on developing a social business plan for Good Neighbors Dominican Republic. Our plan in the end recommended opening a café in the city of Santo Domingo. In addition to typical café menu items, the café would also feature a gift shop where products and items developed by community members would be available for purchase, as well as an art gallery. The funds generated from this social business would go toward facilitating workshops and training sessions for community members so they could learn about income generation opportunities for themselves and their families.

  1. Researching a New Community Development Project Site in Los Cacaos 

Good Neighbors Dominican Republic is in the process of researching a new community development project site in the community of Los Cacaos in the San Cristobal region of the Dominican Republic. This region is known for its cultivation of coffee, and as part of the initial research phase, we got to visit the Asociación de Caficultores La Esperanza (ASOCAES) to tour the coffee facility and learn about the incredible coffee-making process.

DSCN9842Operations Manager, Karla Sanchez (center), and myself receiving an overview of the coffee cultivation process from a representative of ASOCAES.

DSCN9861Proud to say the coffee produced is 100% organic.

DSCN9868GNDOM staff Marjorie Andujar, left, myself, and Karla Sanchez pulling our hair back and getting ready for our tour of the coffee packaging facility. 

DSCN9886An employee packages freshly ground coffee. It smelled wonderful!

  1. The Staff of Good Neighbors Dominican Republic

Without a doubt, one of the highlights of my time was having the opportunity to work with the most amazing group of people who are dedicated to making children’s lives better: the staff of Good Neighbors Dominican Republic! I will always remember the efforts, smiles, frustrations, and laughs that we shared. I am so happy to have worked with and learned from such a spectacular group of people.

Training_04Our staff together at a training workshop.

photo1We know how to have fun! Our staff at a day retreat toJuan Dolio Beach.

So, what’s next for me?

I’m back in the United States now, but I’ve definitely left a piece of my heart in the Dominican Republic. In August, I’ll begin another position for an international service learning program where I’ll be traveling to six different countries around the world over the course of a year. I’m very much looking forward to taking everything that I’ve learned at Good Neighbors and applying it to my life and work in the future.

We’re so grateful to have had a volunteer like Lisette! If you’re interested in volunteer abroad opportunities with Good Neighbors, please contact 

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Our Crescenta Valley High School Club!

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In case you didn’t already know, our team is running the LA Marathon this Sunday—just three days away from now, which is nuts! To show some support, the students at Crescenta Valley High School’s Good Neighbors club spent their lunch hour creating awesome posters for our runners. Joshua, Gina, Annie, Hogan, and Sunho had their meeting in an art classroom and decorated posters with an array of colorful markers and craft supplies. Joshua and Sunho will be coming out to Sunday’s marathon, so we can’t wait to see them there, cheering on our team!

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And now, 3  fun facts about Crescenta Valley High:

#1: Our former donor management assistant Winfred and intern Eugene went to high school there!

#2: Their Good Neighbors club currently partners with four other high schools to raise money for clean water wells in Africa.

#3: In December, they sold breakfast burritos as a fundraiser!

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Yeah, they’re pretty great. Thanks so much, guys!

Learn more about our LA Marathon team and why we’re running.

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Our High School Volunteers Are Awesome

Coolest kids: Van Nuys High School’s Good Neighbors club

We have some pretty awesome young people doing some pretty awesome things for Good Neighbors.

Take, for example, our high school clubs.

Last year, we launched a program for high school students to create Good Neighbors clubs on their campuses and fundraise for our projects around the world. Some of the high schools that got involved included Van Nuys High School, Chaminade College Prepatory, El Camino High School, Crescenta Valley High School, and Granada Hills Charter. Combined, these schools raised more than $9,000 for our Water For Life project to build three wells in Chad, Africa this past year!

They also know how to show their support for our LA Marathon team. (In case you didn’t already know, we’re running the marathon to fundraise for our Project Cookstoves!) And considering that it’s 26.2 miles, it’s safe to say our team could use a little encouragement.

So this past Monday, the Van Nuys High School club got together and made adorable posters to cheer on our LA Marathon team:

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We can’t wait to see these students and their posters along the route on the big day. Thank you for being so awesome, guys!

If you’d like to support our LA Marathon team, you can donate here. And if you’re interested in volunteering with Good Neighbors or want to start a campus club of your own, e-mail us at


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The Paraguay Chronicles: Hello from Asunción!


What’s it like to pack up your bags, head abroad, and be a humanitarian volunteer for one year? This past January, recent University of California, San Diego grad Dayeon (pronounced dye-on) signed up to do just that—and she’ll be taking us on the journey in our new series, The Paraguay Chronicles. Over the next 12 months, Dayeon will be checking in with our blog every few weeks to share her stories and photos as a volunteer in Good Neighbors’ Paraguay field office.

Follow along and see what she’s been up to so far… Continue reading

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