“Can we do good better?” asked Lori Fitzpatrick, a parishioner of Nativity Catholic Church. “Of course, we can,” she replied.

For 20 years, Fitzpatrick has been involved with Nativity’s mission work in La Victoria, a small community, in the Dominican Republic. Monsignor James C. Lara established the organization, now identified as Partners with La Victoria (PWLV) in 1988.

“We would go down [to La Victoria] and bring presents and would have these big Christmas parties, and while that sounds great, over time, we became an ATM,” said Fitzpatrick.

Also acting as the vice president of PWLV, Fitzpatrick expounded on what she meant by ‘doing good better.’

“Handouts outside of crisis relief actually harm the local economy. If we are shipping new or used clothing and household items there is no reason to purchase the items made in locally, which results in a loss of income for their businesses.”

With assistance from Catholic Relief Services (CRS), an international humanitarian agency, PWLV realigned its mission to empower the people of La Victoria through education, faith and economic development. The nonprofit seeks to cultivate leaders within La Victoria to solve current issues with long-term sustainability strategies rather than shortsighted Band-Aid fixes.

“Our roles shifted in 2015 after realizing our efforts were hurting rather than helping the economy of La Victoria,” continued Fitzpatrick. “Now we would like to focus on what they [the people of La Victoria] already do and teach them how to do it better—like a better mixture for concrete or better processes for operating their stores.”  

PWLV was instrumental in the building of a medical clinic, nutrition center and a school. Furthermore, the nonprofit has maintained a longstanding relationship with the community of La Victoria, leading to implicit trust and confidence between both parties.

Moving forward, Nativity would like to collaborate with other parishes. If you are interested in getting involved as a parish or as an individual, please contact Lori Fitzpatrick at board@pwlv.org.

For more information about PWLV, visit www.pwlv.org. Nativity Catholic Church is located at 705 E. Brandon Blvd. in Brandon.