During the first week of May, Univera Associates and Corporate Staff accompanied Serve First’s partner, Vitamin Angels, on a mission trip to the Dominican Republic. Though Univera has assisted Serve First on several of these trips, the DR was a first for Univera. While there, the Associates witnessed the mission of Serve First played out in real time, as the lives of some very deserving children were impacted with the gift of essential, life-giving micronutrients.
Below, is a summary of one Associate’s experience:
Life Changing! I am so grateful and blessed to see the benefits of Vitamin Angels thanks to Univera Serve First™.
I was asked to go on a trip with other associates on behalf of Univera Serve First four years ago; unfortunately I was not able to but have continued to donate to this non-profit organization monthly. Weekly at our presentations, we speak of Bill Lee’s servant leadership and the benefits of nourishing four children and helping to save one child’s life when new prospects place 100 point orders.
When I arrive home to my four children after attending these presentations, they always ask how many lives we have helped save. They are not resistant with me leaving weekly; sometimes nightly to present Univera opportunities because they understand that we are TRANSFORMING lives.
Four years later, I earned a position to go on another Univera Serve First trip, only this time it was to the Dominican Republic! I was absolutely ecstatic to have the chance to see how our daily effort, prayers and monetary gifts provide vitamins and minerals to children and pregnant women who lack basic nutrition.
The kids that had not yet started receiving Vitamin Angels’ vitamins had distended bellies, ashen skin and runny noses. The kids that had been on Vitamin Angels’ vitamins for a while had a good appetite and an elevated level of energy. The pregnant mothers that were taking supplements had healthier pregnancies and carried their babies to full term.
They did not have items like bikes, balls or electronics to preoccupy their time but what they did have was a compassionate community.
At first, I was saddened by the sight of their poor living conditions. They were living in small wood houses with a large group of people per household. Their diet included rice and beans and occasionally fruit and vegetables as a treat. They did not have items like bikes, balls or electronics to preoccupy their time but what they did have was a compassionate community. The older siblings helped with younger siblings while parents worked. Everyone sat outside on streets selling their goods and because they didn’t have money to buy PERSONAL EFFECTS, they focused on their family!
The young mothers had the same ambitions and dreams as mothers from the US; to provide for their families, go to college and get jobs as teachers, doctors, health educators, etc.
One young girl in particular by the name of Estephanie touched my heart and I am currently working to help find a way to make her dreams come true. She has an unbelievably strong desire to go to college and eventually come to the United States of America. Estephanie lost her mother to a drunk driver when she was younger and her father left her as a baby. I was especially touched by Estephanie because I sympathized with her loss; I lost both my parents at a young age too due to a drunk driver and cancer. She also played volleyball and wants to pursue a degree in Health Education and Wellness to transform her community. I too played volleyball and have a Master’s in Health Promotion. My experience on this mission to the Dominican Republic was more than seeing life changing benefits of Vitamin Angels’ work.
I am motivated to continue donating generously to Univera Serve First every month. I challenge everyone to donate a part of their monthly wages or to contribute to a mission that truly is saving lives! I also challenge your local Univera teams to raise money for Serve First!
Last year Team Kentukiana celebrated Univera Serve First’s annual birthday by bringing together our families to donate money that would be spent per child on their birthday. Our children selflessly gave up party decorations and materialistic gifts in order to give to those who don’t even receive basic nutrition. We had one big birthday celebration with tug-o-war, kickball, games, food, fun and fellowship! We came together to have a healthy family meal of their choice and showered them with love and positive, non-materialistic blessings!
I am healthier thanks to Univera, I am becoming a better servant leader day by day and I am leading a purpose driven life! Thank you Univera!
Thank you Vitamin Angels, Bill Lee and Ralph Bietz!
With love, Shelly Sorg