Caribbean Nights

The SUNY New Paltz Catholic Campus Ministry (CCM) celebrated Caribbean-style in preparation for their mission trip to the Dominican Republic this spring.

The group held the Caribbean night dinner dance fundraiser at St. Joseph’s Church in New Paltz on Saturday, April 14.

Members of the New Paltz Catholic community gathered in the basement of the church to feast on a buffet of rice and beans, curry chicken and spicy pulled pork while salsa and Reggae music played in the background. Couples and young people practiced their two-step and Cha-Cha. All guests took part in a raffle and a silent auction of gift cards, paintings and other novelties with the funds going to the missionaries.

Katelyn Burns, a third-year communication disorders major has been a member of CCM since her first year at SUNY New Paltz. She said she is one of 12 students going on the trip in May.

Burns said the materials the group needs to aid the people abroad are expensive, so any help is appreciated.

“We will be raising money for our funds that are going to the trip. We are bringing a water pump to a school in Haiti that is a costly expense,” Burns said. “We also will be doing service projects while we are there so we’ll need supplies for cleaning and painting. It is costly for all of us to travel there so any support is much appreciated.”

CCM members will leave on May 21 and arrive at the central mountain region of the Dominican Republic where they will begin construction work and establish a Bible school for the children in the area, part-time Catholic Ministry Minister Hank Grimsland said.

The team will be working in Jarabacoa and Mao, regions of the Dominican Republic, Grimsland said. He also said that the ministry will visit a school in Fort- Liberté, Haiti where they will install the electric water pump.

Students are required to raise funds individually and as a group before the trip, Grimsland said. The proceeds from auctioneers and guests at the group event aid in purchasing the electric water pump.

Grimsland said the ministry has held this fundraising event in the past and it has seemed to catch on.

“The combination of dinner, dancing — merengue, salsa and bachata — and silent auction seems to work very well,”  Grimsland said.

Trudy Unger, a New Paltz resident who attended the event Saturday, said she was impressed with the students for traveling abroad.

“I hope they surpass what they hoped they would do to begin with. [I wish] success for them,” Unger said.

The student missionaries will return on June 1, Burns said, but in the brief time they will be there, the group will be making a tremendous impact on people who have very little.

“The work we will be doing there will literally be changing people’s lives. The communities we work with are very poor and they greatly appreciate all the work we do for them,” Burns said. “I look forward to seeing our work help [the children]. I know this trip, just like the last one, will be life changing!”