A Humbling Birthday in The Dominican Republic


St. Joesph Catholic Academy students Keely Kennedy and Amy Walther were blessed to spend a humbling birthday in the heart of the Dominican Republic.

This celebration was new territory for Keely and Amy. Gathered together on the rooftop of the volunteer center, the class of 2020 joined in on singing to the birthday girls. They were also greeted with cupcakes and candles for a wish (though they had everything they wanted, and believed nothing could top that moment). 

Amy and Keely expressed their absolute gratitude for spending their birthdays in a foreign land with their closest friends. Amy said, “This birthday was the best. I woke up in a different country and spent my day serving others who needed my help and it felt greater than any gift that could have been given to me.” Amy chose to spend her birthday digging trenches, while Keely assisted in farmland construction. 

When the children found out that it was Amy’s birthday –January 5– they gave her endless amounts of hugs, sang in Spanish and made sure that she didn’t miss a second of celebration. Keely’s birthday –January 7– was later in the week and the bonds created were already getting stronger as the children continued to display a selfless attitude and love for the girls.

Whether it was your birthday or not, the people here made it feel like it was. They made students cards with drawings of each other on it, along with gifts that were straight from their homes and their hearts.

The mission trip showed not only these two, but the whole class that huge parties and expensive gifts aren’t what make a birthday special. What makes a birthday special is the people that you spend it with. Although Keely and Amy may not be able to spend their special days quite like this again, it’ll be something that they will learn from, grow from and remember forever.