Tim Joins the Dispatch Project

Project manager Tim Schoffelman joined a group of Sioux Falls businesspeople on a mission-based outreach program in the Dominican Republic. 

  • Feb. 08 2012

For better or worse, we website-makers spend a lot of time indoors. Behind computers. Hacking away at projects. Our work is always warm, safe and comfortable.

Others don’t have it so good.

Project manager Tim Schoffelman knows this firsthand, after recently joining a group of Sioux Falls businesspeople on a trip to the Dominican Republic to help with the Dispatch Project, a mission-based outreach program led by Paul Ten Haken of Click Rain and Heath Oberloh of Lynn Jackson Schultz Lebrun.

Dispatch Project

The Dispatch Project’s mission is to foster overseas service work, all while creating a spirit of service back home. This was the organization’s first trip, which sent nine people to the town of Benerito, Dominican Republic, to help finish carpentry and roofing for a local church. The initial foundation and cinder walls had already been built by church members, and the church — which measured roughly 20 x 40 feet — was ready to be completed.

“The people we worked with were of Haitian descent, who make up roughly 10% of the country's population,” Tim said. “They are considered a minority and are treated with disdain, but they are still very grateful and their hospitality was unmatched. It was humbling — and quite amazing.”

Tim says that there were challenges, but the biggest was the language barrier.

“We had one interpreter, who was our guide, who became a kind of foreman for the project. He would relate things to the actual foreman, who only spoke Spanish and Creole, and then he would turn and tell us what we needed to be doing. When he wasn't around, we consisted on gestures and numbers.”

Employee Empowerment

One unique thing about Dispatch Project is its focus on the relationship between employers and employees. Dispatch Project is not just a mission trip program, but a way to allow businesses to participate in global improvement — and empower their employees to do the same.

It was in this vein that Blend Interactive sponsored Tim’s trip, both to provide an incredible, life-changing experience and to provide an opportunity for non-traditional education. While Tim didn’t learn anything about agile methodologies or Wordpress plugins, he learned plenty about empathy and compassion.

“Compared to the Haitian population in the Dominican Republic, we’ve got it really good,” Tim said. “I found it difficult to look at a picture of my family surrounded by the comforts of home. We have sheetrock, and insulation — things that we take for granted. The people we helped don’t have that — they have cement floors and simple siding and tin roofs.”

“What’s amazing, though, is that their floors were worn smooth. They mop their house twice a day. They don’t have much, but what they do have they truly take care of.”

To learn more about Dispatch Project, visit the official website. (You can find more stories about the trip by browsing the “Related Stories” links at the bottom of the report.) Or, check out Tim’s pictures on Blend’s Flickr page.

More photos on Flickr