Category Archives: US News

Bigger than Baseball

Bigger than Baseball

Dominican Republic News, Teams, US News0 comments

An iridescent light shines through a semi-open ceiling of the oldest monastery in the Americas revealing a crystal blue sky, a single cloud and a rich green fern growing down from a shaded corner. The building has held in structure since the early 1500’s and when the wind whispers through, it is hard not to hear the tales of lost history and untold stories of great triumph and tribulation. Unaware at the time, but this first adventure in the Dominican Republic would symbolize the theme of events that would soon follow, and with it the hope of a nation.

Although one of the first developed nations in the Americas, landed by Christopher Columbus and colonized by his brother Bartholomew in 1493, there lacks a serious treasure that the brothers first brought with them so many years ago… the ability to dream. Entrapped by a highly corrupt government that controls a majority of the wealth, a weak at best education system, and an unimaginable destitution that leads to desperation, it is easy to see why escaping the cycle of poverty looks impossible. Many nights of the trip I laid in bed frustrated, feeling the tied hands of a nation. Overwhelmed by the realization and devastation of how a lack of education stunts the development of the brain and causes an inability to hope, to dream for change and a brighter future.

My journey with IYI and the Biola Journalism team took me through all facets of culture including; a Haitian Batey so poor the kitchen consists of a rustic black pot atop of burning sticks outside of a dilapidated shack. Boca Chica, one of the most popular beaches in all of Santo Domingo, turning extremely dark and provocatively revealing itself as one of the most well known areas for sex tourism. The girls prison, where it is not uncommon to be sitting next to a convicted murderer. A desperate need for education, where the average Dominican receives 2.6 hours of learning (if they go) a day. Finally, an understanding of the immersion in the slim and unreliable hope that leads to the business of baseball. In a world where we focus on sensationalized stories, I realized that in the DR there are 9 million untold with a need to be heard.

However, as more of the week began to reveal itself, I discovered that for every story of sadness and devastation spoken, there was another one just like it filled with hope and miracle. Among each stop, God so clearly revealed HimseIf and how He is working through IYI to impact youth and change a generation. Stories like how girls from the youth prison, with once hardened hearts, now wait eagerly for Josefina (an IYI Youth Worker) because they now have the opportunity to learn about God, the Bible, positive character building and how He is working to change it all and give them true hope. Paola, a director from a baseball league in Los Tres Brazos, overwhelmed by the unconditional love and support he has received from IYI, in which he remarks, “the only people who have ever given me help”. Paola not a Christian, but realizing something different about IYI, now brings in leadership to conduct a Bible Study for his camp of boys. Then exclaiming to his interviewers when asked about his faith, he smiles, looks at Keith (Executive Director of IYI) and says, “you never know” as if to admit the Lord is indeed working inside him. In that moment, I thought back to earlier in the week as I stood in the monastery where the light shined powerfully through the building, masking the darkness and revealing the true beauty that lay within. Of all the struggle I witnessed that week, I was reminded that no matter how devastating a situation, God is the God of the universe and is much bigger than any country, government or it’s problems. He conquered death, can powerfully bring light to even the darkest situations and His awesome beauty will be revealed. We must continue to love people as we are called, make disciples of the Nations and share the incredible hope that is even bigger then baseball to the Dominicans…a hope in the only one who can truly save. A powerful reminder to never limit the size of your God by limiting the size of your expectations or dreams.

– Jen Hollingsworth, International Youth Initiative Global Teams

Biola University Journalism Department will release this fall a book entitled “The Dominican Dream: A Passion for Baseball, a Love of Family and a Hope for the Future,” as a result of their studies with IYI in the Dominican Republic this past Spring.

Read More about Biola Journalism in the Dominican Republic

Videos of their Experience:

The People of the Dominican

Six Times

From Their Point of View

The Translators

DR Reflections


Ignite a Movement in Your Everyday

Ignite a Movement in Your Everyday

US News5 comments

Dear Friends,

First, we would like to thank you for your continued support of International Youth Initiative in changing the lives of thousands of youth in the Dominican Republic, Haiti and Mexico. Doors in each of these countries continue to open to further impact the lives of youth. Though IYI continues to receive opportunities to impact lives, financial resources are desperately needed to make these things possible. Because of this we are excited to share with you 2 fundraising options that we want to invite you to be a part of. Both are no ongoing commitments or financial obligations and some products will also save you money!

#1: Buy Shaklee Products through IYI’s store. The economic recession has had a profound effect on the world of nonprofit organizations. To be healthy and productive, nonprofits like ours are forming strategic partnerships with companies that share a common vision. After careful consideration, we have chosen to partner with a company that has a long history of giving back to communities: Shaklee Corporation. Shaklee is the #1 natural nutrition company in the U.S. with a line of non-toxic cleaning products that are the official cleaning products of the White House and NASA. Shaklee quality products can easily replace products used every day in the home, including cleaning products, vitamins, and health and beauty aids. And because Shaklee products are backed by an unconditional money-back guarantee, you have nothing to lose—and we have everything to gain.

When you make a purchase from our online Shaklee store, our organization will benefit. The program is entirely free for us, and we get a check each month based on purchases made through this Web site. To order from our online store, simply go to There you’ll find everything you need to know about the program and Shaklee products.

#2: Register your cards with the eScrip Program. The eScrip Program has created a system that contributes a percentage of purchases made using their grocery club cards and credit/debit cards. It’s simple, easy and safe! Sign up your club cards or/and credit/debit cards once and start having a percentage of the amount you spend go towards changing the lives of youth today without doing a thing!

Please pass this along to your family, friends and neighbors to invite them to be a part of making a difference in the lives of youth as well.

International Youth Initiative
eScrip ID: 500025651

On the Ground Update

On the Ground Update

Haiti News, Teams, US News5,808 comments

I just got off the phone with our staff team in Haiti! IYI Executive Director Keith King reports that, “Breakthrough is happening here in so many ways; it is incredible to see a community transforming from the inside out and working together for tangible change.”

A local community leader and pastor (who also leads the IYI Youth Mentor Program) and IYI’s Youth Mentor Program will soon have a new home and location thanks to so many people from the local community and here in the United States working together to make this happen. IYI staff is on the ground building this multi-use home with the local community. More important than this building is the process of unity, character, and skill development that is happening. It’s reflective in the mutual sweat, learned skills, conversations over shoveling dirt, encouraging attitudes, words and gestures of deep appreciation, and the action being taken to help one another at so many levels.

I am so excited to bring you these stories over the next week as our staff team returns to the Dominican Republic on Friday. Keep posted this next week for more stories from the field!

– Betsy Osterink, IYI Associate Director

April 2011 Mud Run

April 2011 Mud Run

Events, US News2,021 comments

Yesterday, a few members of our volunteer team reverted back to childhood and played in the mud. A lot of mud. Cory, Toby, Matt, Jen, Angelique, Steven, and Betsy conquered the Irvine Lake Mud Run to raise money and awareness for “I Am the Change Sports,” IYI’s division that reaches youth globally through sports activities. Our group finished the grueling 3.8 miles together in an hour and a half (Congrats to Jen, who ran it in the morning before us, and finished 2nd place in women’s with a time of 36 minutes – only an hour faster than our whole group). Wanna do the next one? Sign up now for the Mud Run in July – and get your friends out!

> View more pictures from the Mud Run

> Signup to register to run in July


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