Danielle (Towne) Oaks ’06 and Eli Moger ’10

Called to Serve

Even though Danielle (Towne) Oaks and Eli Moger missed each other by a year at URI, their church managed to bring them together.

In 2008, REUNION Christian Church in Boston partnered with Pastor Luis Vargas in the Dominican Republic. Every year since, a team of volunteers has traveled to Santa Lucia, a city in the Dominican Republic about a 30-minute bumpy ride from Santiago, to work alongside Vargas in the community known as La Mosca (The Fly) because of the flies that thrive off the surrounding dump. Flies aren’t the only challenge facing the people in La Mosca—disease, addiction, crime, and malnutrition are pervasive.

The volunteers provide La Mosca’s community with such resources as a medical clinic and construction work. It’s a relationship built on a foundation of continued support even after the volunteers return home. The group checks in with Vargas every few months for updates on La Mosca and to plan the next trip.

Moger first visited La Mosca last year, and he’s eager to return. “The idea of service is deeply ingrained in our church community,” he says. Oaks has been a member of the church since the partnership began and visited La Mosca for the fifth time this summer.

Though they didn’t know each other at URI, Oaks and Moger have a lot in common. Both were communication studies majors and leadership studies minors, and both were involved in Greek life and served as campus tour guides. “I think we can both attest to how important it is to be involved on campus and what a wide range of experiences our involvement gave us,” Oaks says. “Those experiences were integral to how we view our world now.”

She and Moger both credit courses they took in communication studies, especially a multiculturalism class with Professor Lynne Derbyshire, with expanding their worldview and helping them overcome language and cultural differences to form lasting bonds with the Dominican community.

To learn more, visit REUNIONintheDR.com.

— Mary Bates