It gives us great pleasure to share the story of our inception with you. The organization began with the selfless acts of Mike and Giovanna Di Lillo, two individuals with huge hearts, who have both spent a lifetime in the service of others, particularly children. Having been blessed with the opportunity of fulfilling their dreams of spending winters in the Dominican Republic, they decided that it was time to find a way to give back, a sort of pay it forward if you will.
They began their journey one Sunday when Giovanna approached Father Santiago, a young Dominican Priest who celebrates Mass in their vacation area. She shared with him their desire to make a difference in a community or neighbourhood where help was most needed. Without hesitation, Father Santiago told her about a nearby orphanage that was in dire need and could surely benefit from their help.
Giovanna and Mike wasted no time in making their way to the orphanage; however, they were completely unprepared for what they saw. As is true for most first-time visitors, they were overwhelmed by the sight of so many children, all with physical and mental disabilities, living in poverty. The children, all housed in a small, over-crowded home, were living with few resources and without many of the basic necessities of life. Deeply moved by what they witnessed, Giovanna and Mike were determined to bring about change to this community. They made a solemn promise to themselves that they would make a difference in the lives of these wonderful children.
Shortly thereafter, Mike and Giovanna met with the Bishop of Puerto Plata for guidance and assistance in formulating a plan of action. Upon their return to Canada, with the support of their family and friends, they recruited other like-minded individuals with big hearts, including a lawyer and an accountant, to donate their time, talents and services. Eventually, the number of volunteers grew and a founding board was established, creating the organization now known as the Canadian Dominican Ray of Hope.
Since that first visit to the orphanage, this project has evolved into a thriving organization that is based on the profound belief that ALL children have a God-given right to a quality life, love and well-being regardless of their country of birth. This registered Canadian charity consists entirely of volunteers from all walks of life who donate their time, resources and services to this worthy cause. These contributions from both the corporate and private sectors of our community allow our organization to operate proudly without administrative costs. This level of commitment allows 100% of the proceeds to go toward achieving our goal of bettering the children's lives. In fact, even this website and its content are examples of the valuable contributions our dedicated volunteers bring on our journey toward change.
The success of the organization's efforts thus far is a testament to the power behind the humanitarian spirit. When one person's vision and a group of dedicated individuals come together to improve the lives of others great things happen!
Thanks to Giovanna’s and Mike's vision, we have all begun a journey that will benefit the children for many years to come.
“We are all united by our love for the children. As individuals we each bring different talents, as a group we are committed to help those who truly need it."