Collaboration Gives Lift to Every Vision

by Harvey Hook

There’s an old African saying that states, “If you want to go fast go alone, but if you want to go far go with others.” As an advocate of speed, independence and flexibility in my younger years I embraced their adrenaline-driven benefits and the results that were accomplished in short periods of time. However, upon passing the half-way mark of life, I’ve discovered the far more valuable, legacy-producing and long-term sustainable solutions provided by going far with others.

As the Executive Director of a small non-profit with 3 staff, 11 board members and some 70 volunteers we approach maximum capacity in short order. However, through a growing number of new partnerships, we’ve discovered an exponentially expanded capacity through collaboration, which is providing us with an unprecedented lift in the fulfillment of our vision.

One of the central tenets of collaboration is this: “Collaboration creates order around a mutual high-stakes vision, in which no single person or entity can achieve noble and clear mission envisioned.” (As stated by The American Center for Civic Character, in “The Civil Society Tutorial Project.”) Our team totally buys this tenet and the following story is proving its worth.

Our vision for the DR: To provide an annual short term missions experience where Americans can grow in their servant leadership skills, while enriching the lives of children and families in two impoverished communities in western Santo Domingo.

Our capacity: In two years we’ve grown from 3 programs to over a dozen programs and events, but with no capacity to fulfill our vision to serve the Dominican Republic in 2016 apart from collaboration.

Our collaborators: Kelsie Fields is an OSU student pursuing a degree in International Studies. Kelsie is leading the Dominican vision during her 12 week Summer internship, while under my tutelage. Joining the partnership to underwrite Kelsie’s position are two local businesses: Sequent, Inc., an HR outsourcing and consulting firm and MT Business Technologies, Inc., a third-generation office and print solutions firm. Completing our team is John Lohrman, businessman, friend and Dominican savant, having made 70 visits to the island in recent years. And last, the critical idea which gave life to this vision came from the two other members of the Relā leadership team, Shannon Lee and Liz Cooper who asked the question; “What if we created a team of partners to make possible what we are unable to do by ourselves?”

Our goal: To deliver a first class, third world, servant leadership experience for 15 people, while contributing to the quality of life of children and families in Cielo and Nazaret, Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, October 15 – 21, 2016.

Our final collaborator: Our avenue for service is Mission Emanuel, a community of Dominicans, Haitians and Americans who have been serving Santo Domingo for over 20 years. They provide a well-oiled ‘turn-key” experience from touch down, to transportation, to lodging, to a week-long life-changing experience, to our return liftoff flight to Columbus.

A personal note: I’ve been to the DR 28 times in the past ten years to serve alongside Americans, Dominicans and Haitians. This experience has been a “top 5” life experience for me, and unlike anything else I know or can imagine. Selfishly, I want you to experience what I have. Rita and I have children, family, and friends there, people we love deeply. We’ve always brought back more with us, than we’ve ever given to others while there. It’s impossible to serve and not be changed.

There are only three differences between you and me and our Dominican friends:

  1. They are there and we are here.
  2. They so often, have abundant joy and few opportunities.
  3. We have abundant opportunities and so often, such little joy.

In our world, kids regularly play with balls, bats, helmets, and uniforms and on manicured baseball diamonds. In their world, kids play with sticks and bottle caps using a rag for home plate on a road where two nameless streets connect. In our world, we keep a safe, hand-sanitized, guarded distance from one another. In their world, sweaty people hold hands, embrace and wipe sweat from one another. They have something we are missing.

Will you join us in Cielo? Will you travel with us to Nazaret?

Our Interest Meeting: If you would like to learn more about our October 15 – 21 trip to Santo Domingo I invite you to join Kelsie, John and me for an informal interest meeting:

  • Tuesday, June 28 / 7:00 – 8:30PM
  • 5760 Kempton Run Ct, Columbus, OH 43235
  • RSVP your attendance to Kelsie Fields at

More details about this interest meeting and the trip in general can be found here!

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