For years our family has been personally involved in overseas missions work. Our business is seasonal which makes it easy to get away in the slow time for a family missions trip overseas. We love working alongside local churches in impoverished countries, but we can rarely do more than treat the symptoms of poverty. Our desire is to build relationships and to foster real, lasting change.
In 2015, we began working with a national pastor in the Dominican Republic. Pastor Julio is a very skilled welder and metalworker. When his son was murdered by a local gang, instead of becoming bitter, his heart radically shifted to a desire to eradicate gang activity through apprenticeship in the skilled trades. What a joy it has been to watch him be a father to the same type of young men who took his son’s life just a few years ago! His work has already made a huge impact on gang activity in his community, but he wants to do more.
The Vocation Center in Haina, Domincan Republic
Through Julio’s vision, a vocational school is being built which will provide much needed trade skills to men and women in a very impoverished and uneducated community. The students we have worked with are in their late teens, many of them with less than a third grade education. Before the trade center, their only means of survival has been theft and violence. Many of the students have already applied their new skills working in an honest trade, earning their very first paycheck. The students’ sense of pride in their hard work is life-changing!
After our first week at the trade school, I realized that this experience is something we can’t keep to ourselves. I had to figure out how to get our whole company involved! How mind-blowing to realize that passing along the skills of our trade, could lift an entire community out of poverty and crime. In the Dominican Republic, manual labor is cheap and plentiful however skilled labor is very rare. In Santo Domingo, a refrigeration technician can earn 2-3 time the income of an attorney!
Watkins Heating working for a cause
In January 2016, we began matching our installers’ quality bonus with a donation to this missions work. This gives our entire team a larger cause than simply providing for their families. Every furnace sold actually means another opportunity to change lives.
September 2017 will be our third trip to the trade school. While the building is only half finished, the training is in full swing! We are very excited because for the first time, this trip will include four of our employees. We will be working on another section of the building with members of the community and trade school students. In addition, we will be teaching electrical classes, and encouraging them as they develop their skills and work-ethic. Our contribution is very small when compared to the local church members and tradesmen who work and teach in the center every week.
Partner with us!
Our company is heavily invested for the long-term. Please consider joining us in this work! Donations can be made through Loveserves, a Guidestar Platinum certified organization. Designate “Mission trip project costs” in honor of “Watkins” and 100% of the money donated will go to purchasing the building materials that we will use to complete the trade school. Our goal for this trip is $10,000, but anything helps! In the many years I’ve been involved with missions organizations, I’ve never seen so little make such a big difference.