ABOUT BUILDING BRIDGES OF HOPE
"We are a Catholic Christian organization that exists to promote the people of the Dominican Republic through providing financial support as well as in kind donations. It is our goal to spread awareness of and promote the efforts of existing organizations within Elias Pina, all the while fostering a sense of human dignity and respect of those we serve."
HISTORY OF BUILDING BRIDGES OF HOPE AND OUR RELATIONSHIP WITH FUNDACION MARIANA SAN ISIDRO LABRADOR (FUMSIL):
Sister Roselyn Nichols of the Franciscan Sisters of the Sorrowful Mother was assigned to El Llano, Elias Pina in February of 1995. Later that year, she met Dr. Angel Valdez, a medical intern from the Rural Clinic, who was also a new arrival in the community. The two dynamic leaders formed a special bond while working together to open the first library for the municipal area of El Llano.
The following year, 1996, they expanded their reach to include several rural communities. Starting with adult literacy, which was led by volunteer facilitators of the community and taught by Sister Nichols, all of these projects were part of the parish social ministry of St. Isidore Parish and supported by Father William Hoffman, a Catholic priest from the Diocese of Green Bay, WI, USA.
In late 1996, the community-based projects were formally organized. The name Fundacion Mariana San Isidro Labrador (FUMSIL) was chosen and the foundation was legally recognized as a nonprofit, functioning under the Diocese of San Juan de la Maguana.
In 1997, FUMSIL further expanded to include mobile medical clinics through a primary healthcare iniative supported by Foundation SSM. They also began a housing program that aided in the renovation of existing homes and construction of new houses.
In 1998, FUMSIL began working in an additional 11 rural communities. This broadened the scope of impact to include the municipalities of El Llano, Comendador and Banica. The total number of communities is brought to 22.
In the years 1999-2002, FUMSIL initiated reforestation projects, installed first aide stations with essential medications in each community, expanded the literacy project in the jail in Elías Piña, and provided medical consultations to prisoners.
In 2003 they constructed a school with two classrooms in Rosa la Piedra. This project was sponsored by the Vatican Foundation of John Paul II. They also started the animal husbandry project sponsored by Food For the Poor (United States non profit). This project was carried out in 9 communities.
In 2004, Dr. Angel and Sister Roselyn meet Rose Marie Smillie of Brighton, MI while on a pilgrimage in Medjugorie. Rose Marie promises to visit FUMSIL and their projects.
In November of 2004 FUMSIL began the nutrition program, which was to carry out the anthropometric measurements and delivery of anti-parasitic drugs and multivitamins to every child in each community.
In 2005 Rose Marie gathers a small group of fellow parishioners from Holy Spirit Catholic Church in Brighton, MI to travel to the Dominican Republic. They spend time in El Llano learning about FUMSIL and participating in the community development programs. After returning to the United States they raise awareness about FUMSIL, gaining momentum and popularity at Holy Spirit Parish. They organize their efforts and decide upon the name Building Bridges of Hope.
This same year FUMSIL receives dentistry equipment donations via Building Bridges of Hope and they begin offering this service to the community for a nominal fee.
In 2006, Jessica Carlile traveled to El Llano for the first time as a representative of Aquinas College in Grand Rapids, Mich. An agreement is reached and plans are made for Aquinas students to travel to El Llano and volunteer over school breaks.
In 2007, Aquinas College sent the first group of Service-Learning participants over spring break. In October of 2007 Aquinas College sends the second group of Service-Learning participants over fall break. The Asilo, a day facility for elderly in El Llano, is opened this year with support from Building Bridges of Hope, the Dominican Ministry of Health, the Dominican National Lottery, Hilton Foundation, and John Paul II Vatican Foundation.
In 2008, Building Bridges of Hope raises enough donations to support the purchase of a truck so that the FUMSIL medical team is able to better serve the rural communities.
In 2010, Aquinas College officially signs cooperation agreement with Fumsil. They start Corposcopia services, they construct the youth center Juvenil El Buen Camino, and UNICEF supports Fumsil nutrition program.
In 2012, Building Bridges of Hopes adds St. Mary Student Parish affiliated with the University of Michigan to their International Volunteer Program.
In 2013, BBOH adds Rockhurst University to the spring volunteer programs. St. Catherine of Sienna Academy (Wixom, MI) also adopts BBOH as their school mission sending down the first group of high school students to volunteer alongside FUMSIL.
In 2014, Benedictine University is added to the list of colleges and universities that send students to volunteer over spring break. BBOH now receives groups from 4 universities each March.
OUR BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Fr. Daniel Reim
Jesuit priest and associate pastor at St. Mary Student Parish for the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, MI. He has traveled to visit us numerous times, bringing groups of students through the Alternative Spring Break Program.
Coordinator of Service Learning at Aquinas College in Grand Rapids, MI. Eric was one of the first people to come and see our projects nearly 8 years ago. He also sends groups of college students to come work with us 3 times each year.
Attorney in Bloomfield Hils, MI. Joe met us when he came down as a chaperone for the St. Catherine of Sienna (Wixsom, MI) high school mission trip. He has been our chief advice consultant ever since.
Alma Jean Fossel
Director of Social Concerns at St. Al's in Grand Rapids, MI. She was one of the first volunteers to come down in 2007. She represents all of our former volunteers, providing a unique perspective as a young professional in the nonprofit realm.
Dr. Angel Valdez, MD.
Co-founder and Executive Director of Fundacion Mariana San Isidro Labrador (FUMSIL). He is also the director of the community hospital in Elias Pina, Hospital Rosa Duarte. Dr. Angel serves as our primary contact in the Dominican Republic.
Parishioner of St. Mary in Ann Arbor and our expert on all things related to nonprofits. He has been a driving force behind BBOH moving forward and building more relationships.
Co-Founders and Co-Directors: Adam and Jessica Carlile
Lay Catholic Missionaries who have committed their lives to the communities that we serve in the Dominican. They travel frequently between the U.S. and Caribbean, fundraising and executing each project on the ground. They receive each group of volunteers and welcome them into the BBOH family, translating and working alongside each group.