Students make a difference in the Dominican
March 22, 2012

Close to 100 students from the Barrie, Orangeville, Orillia and Owen Sound campuses, along with a number of faculty, will travel to San Jose De Ocoa, Dominican Republic from April 24 to May 18 as part of a large volunteer undertaking in this underdeveloped region.

Students from a variety of programs will be represented, including Paramedic, Police Foundations, Practical Nursing and Bachelor of Social Work (Laurentian@Georgian). This will be a great experience for students who will use their skills to help those in need.

Three interprofessional subgroups of students and faculty will travel to the island at different intervals.

Subgroup one

The first subgroup is health and wellness-focused. It includes students from:

  • Advanced Care Paramedic
  • Bachelor of Science in Nursing
  • Dental Hygiene
  • Laurentian@Georgian Psychology program
  • Paramedic
  • Personal Support Worker
  • Practical Nursing

This subgroup also includes two Georgian graduates who are now registered practical nurses.

The students will run interprofessional health clinics in the community. They will be visiting the local hospital, nursing home and orphanage, teaching in schools and visiting a mental health and addictions centre, as well as a centre for abused women.

“We will work with the Dominican people to provide health services and community development,” says Sheila Wojcik, a nursing faculty member who leads the organization of the annual trip. “Our focus is on sustainable projects and empowering those in need to be able to provide for themselves.”

Georgian faculty from the Barrie Campus dedicating their time to the Dominican trip include:

  • Judith Bergen
  • Andrea Brandt
  • Phillip Bourget
  • Rosemary Healy
  • Sheila Koss
  • Alicia Sedgwick
  • Sheila Wojcik

Both Rosemary and Sheila will be in the Dominican for the full 25 days.

Subgroup two

The second subgroup includes students and faculty from the Orillia Campus in such programs as:

  • Bachelor of Arts – Law and Justice
  • Bachelor of Social Work
  • Bachelor of Human Services – Police Studies
  • Developmental Services Worker
  • Early Childhood Education (Owen Sound Campus)
  • Police Foundations
  • Practical Nursing

This is the first year that an interprofessional group of this nature will be taking the trip. It will be led by University Partnership Centre co-ordinator in Orillia, Fred Fallis.

“This is going to be a real eye-opening experience for many students,” says Fred. “This is such an amazing opportunity – I’m so thrilled to be a part of this project.”

Staff travelling with Fred to the Dominican from the Orillia Campus include:

  • Karen Bell
  • Suzanne Chaddock

Students will visit the local court and corrections centre and work with the local police force. They will also help in the community health clinics led by the first subgroup and visit the same community centres and institutions.

Subgroup three

The third subgroup is a community professional group consisting of registered nurses, teachers and a pharmacist. A Georgian Bachelor of Science in Nursing Collaborative program graduate, who is now a registered nurse, will return for her fourth trip.

The annual trip is organized with Sheila’s leadership in conjunction with ADESJO and the Religious Hospitallers of St. Joseph. They provide all of the local connections in the area and advise where the greatest need is.

“It wouldn’t be the same without ADESJO and the Sisters,” says Sheila. “These trips are life-changing – we gain more from the Dominican people than what we give. They connect, inspire and transform us.”

Another partnership exists with Rayjon Share Care, a registered not-for-profit charitable organization that hosts trips to developing countries to offer medical, educational and technical assistance and foster personal awareness and growth.

Donations of supplies and cash

Faculty and students participating in the trip will collect items such as:

  • School supplies
  • Sports equipment
  • Vitamins (adult and prenatal)
  • Tylenol and/or Advil (must not be expired)

Monetary donations are also being accepted and will go to purchasing supplies in the Dominican, such as parasite medication.

Donations of $20 or more are eligible for a tax receipt.

If you would like to donate supplies or money, please contact Sheila Wojcik at ext. 5580 or