The Rhinebeck Interact Club, a service organization made up of local high school students and sponsored by the Rhinebeck Rotary Club, recently set out on a tremendous quest to improve the lives of children and families in the impoverished rural village of La Ceiba in Nicaragua. This was the second year The Nicaragua Project has been in existence, and it represents the ongoing commitment by both Rhinebeck Rotary and the Rhinebeck Interact Club to improving overall living conditions and building international relationships.

With the assistance of the Albert Schweitzer Institute of Hamden, Connecticut and Alianza Americana of Leon, Nicaragua, Rhinebeck Rotary identified a list of long term needs, including new classrooms, vegetable gardens, drinking water purification, school supplies, shoes, clothing, a food service facility and educational scholarships to allow the local children to attend school, some of which were undertaken as part of the Nicaragua 2010 Project. Planning and fundraising for Nicaragua 2011 took place from September 2010 to April 2011, and from April 8 to April 16, 2011, a delegation of four Rhinebeck Rotary and 18 Interact members were in Nicaragua at the school working with local tradesmen to implement the Projects. For many students, it was their first time experiencing The Nicaragua Project, while other students are veterans. Those students for whom this was a return trip were Rachel Bassett, Gwenn Gideon, Joey Kupiec, Andrew McGettrick, Sean Phelan and Sarah Turpin, Interact Club President. Sarah Turpin shared her thoughts on the experience as follows:

“The Project reflects our deep commitment as a Club to enhancing the life experience for those who do not have the same educational, financial and infrastructure resources that we do. For the second year in a row, we developed lifelong friendships, an appreciation for what we have and a sense of how important it is to fold community service into everything we do, all year long”.


The new participants this year from the Rhinebeck Interact Club included Addie Blohm, Andy Chestney, Meghan deVries, Michelle Dewkett, Aaron Hoffman, Elliot Hoffman, Bailey Lyons, Emily McGettrick, Maddie Ping, Emma Steele, Griffin Swanwick and Elisabeth Therer. Incoming High School Junior Andy Chestney communicated his thoughts on this Project, “Our trip to Nicaragua was truly incredible. It gave all of us the opportunity to really make a difference for those who are less fortunate and we all learned so much from this experience. Not only do I look forward to participating in the project again next year, but I also hope to make time for this kind of work throughout my entire life”.

All students who participated on the planning of the Project and traveled to Nicaragua had the leadership of Rhinebeck Rotary Club members who served as Advisors to the Club and chaperones for the Trip: Kathy Dewkett, Michael Frazier, Joe Phelan & Louis Turpin. “We all felt an overwhelming sense of pride in our Rhinebeck youth as they planned and implemented their vision for the Project. Their dedication resulted in some incredible gifts for the people of La Ceiba – a new school cafeteria and kitchen building with equipment and furnishings, scholarships for Nicaragua students, and a substantial donation of school supplies, shoes, tools, clothing, musical instruments, sports equipment and books. Our Rhinebeck Interact Club was able to raise over $22,000 this year through Grants, our Blue Jean Bash event and private donations. Trip participants all pay their own way, allowing for 100% of the funds to go directly to those in need. The response from our local community and support of this initiative was truly heartwarming and we look forward to continued success with this Project in years to come”, said Turpin, Immediate Past President of the Rhinebeck Rotary Club.

 For more information on Rhinebeck Rotary Club or Rhinebeck Interact Club, please contact Marybeth Cale at 845.229.0700 X118.