Good morning all - FINALLY I am able to provide the update I have been hoping for, rather than report that we finally gave up... After a 6 month delay, all of the Diamond to Dominican baseball equipment has been delivered to Cabarete!!! I emailed, tweeted, facebooked, called and wrote any and everyone I thought could help with this for months. I met a lot of interesting and great new people along the way who all tried their best to help, but here is the chain of events that made it possible in the end:
Patricia Suriel, who was the original founder of both DREAM Project and Iguana Mama Adventure Tours and now runs The Mariposa Foundation in Cabarete, put us in touch with Steve Pindar at Roberto’s Kids.
Steve, through Linell Stabler at ACES North America, gave us a local contact with Porfirio in Santo Domingo who physically went to Customs, verified that the shipment was still in the warehouse and got specific names, phone numbers, and email addresses for those in customs who were accountable.
Kathy Peguero at SEKO in Miami used the Customs contact information from Porfirio to get the import fees and taxes waived under our charitable donation exemption and finalize the paperwork required for release. She also met with upper management at the air freight company and storage warehouse facility and had them agree to waive all air freight and storage charges – which was thousands of dollars! Kathy has also served as my translator throughout this entire process...
Michael Scates at Iguana Mama borrowed a truck, and he and his wife drove over an hour to Santiago where the two pallets now were. It took him over 3 hours of dealing with Customs, despite having a Fed-Ex package of notarized papers from me that they claimed would be “the last steps required to complete the transfer”, and they still tried to get additional funds from him. He held firm, and finally the equipment was loaded into the truck.
A Customs official followed Michael and his wife back to Cabarete (they had to buy his lunch and fill his car up with gas) to watch the delivery and verify it was a charitable donation. He declined to be photographed with the children, but Michael said the Customs officer was smiling non-stop also when he saw the joy on the children’s faces.
The equipment will outfit several boys baseball teams through the DREAM Project, as well as 2 girls softball teams started this month at The Mariposa Foundation.
There will be formal presentation to the teams and hopefully a celebratory game with the new equipment. Michael will let me know the date and time when it is decided. Any pictures I receive will be posted at www.Facebook.com/DiamondtoDominican.
I have attached a picture of some of the kids at the DREAM Project unpacking the equipment and one of Michael during the delivery that I know you will enjoy. Feel free to share our great news.
Lastly, I am thankful to each of you for your role in making this happen. There is no way we could have ever realized this dream without your continued involvement and incredible support.
Now I have to finish that book and get some more support for all of your efforts!!