At In-Room Plus, giving back is built into the fiber of our business and core values. While we’re privileged to work with many luxury brands and products, we never stop working to also help those in need. From corporate donations to employee volunteerism, we’re building a culture of community involvement, one inspired and lived out by top leadership.
Our CEO, Elizabeth Jones, recently returned from the Dominican Republic as part of the Dominican Joe Foundation’s annual fundraiser. Jones serves on the organization’s board and gives her time and resources to help the group in Las Terrenas, Dominican Republic. The founder, Joe Rizzo is from the Western New York area.
Rizzo’s frequent business travels to the island revealed both a warm and welcoming people and a deeply broken educational system. He created the Dominican Joe Foundation to provide scholarship and education opportunities to an ever-growing number of local students in order to expand their future socioeconomic opportunities.
We asked Elizabeth to share a few of the most impactful moments of her trip in her own words and photos to help share the mission and passion of the organization.
“The experience was amazing, it always is. Once you come to this area and attend this fundraising weekend, it's hard not to return. You arrive with a few friends and leave with 100 friends from around the world. This was our fourth trip to the area, our largest fundraiser yet, and we plan to return again soon. We’ll now be able to sponsor more kids than ever. This trip brings new meaning to ‘vacation’, it's a ‘get away and give.’ Giving back to incredible, passionate, gracious people in paradise is my kind of vacation.
The classroom and smiling faces
“Upon visiting the school, you truly understand the resources—or lack thereof—that these educators and children have. Inside the classrooms, there are no fancy computers, whiteboards or rows of encyclopedias. Instead, there are old books, magazines, construction paper and caps from various bottles used for counting exercises. There are holes in the roof, so when it rains, they have to move the children within the classroom to accommodate for that. However, there is something unforgettable about walking into these classrooms: the smiles.
Students use bottle caps for counting exercises
“Even though there is still so much to do, these children already have more than they have ever had: School uniforms, backpacks, teachers, simple educational materials and a secure place to learn. Even with all the group has provided, we want to continue to do more, give more and ensure these children have opportunities like never before.
“We are still working on fully achieving our annual fundraising goal of $100,000. We have big plans for more programs, including one that will cater to educating unemployed young adults on the island so they can be better equipped to contribute to their families and communities. We also want to build a building, continue working with the Dream Project and Columbia University toward year-round education, including summer programs.
LEFT: Elizabeth and one of the DJF scholarship recipients
RIGHT: Lidia and Dominican Joe Foundation founder, Joe Rizzo
“Finally, this is a whole person approach. We have dentists and doctors volunteering, as well as nutritional goals for meals and snacks. This foundation is 5 years old with so many goals yet to achieve. We are fortunate to have some really great people local to the island (like Lidia, our ‘boots on the ground” who is affectionately regarded by the board as a Mother Teresa) and from around the world driving it to be a successful and effective foundation.”
To learn more, to attend or give to the Dominican Joe Foundation, please click here.