Mission

Sister Island Project fosters community empowerment, cultural exchange, diversity and equity awareness, and action supporting social justice and compassion in the Dominican Republic and the U.S. 

 

Our Work

In the Dominican Republic, our work is focused in the village of Cruz Verde, where we support community members’ access to education, health care, economic development, creative arts, personal and political empowerment and safe and reliable homes and infrastructure. In the U.S., we facilitate diversity awareness and action for change through educational presentations, community events and volunteer opportunities.  

Two women finish sewing shoulderbags at the Learning Center, Cruz Verde, as part of RECLAIM women’s sewing microenterprise

 

History

Sister Island Project began to take shape in 1999 when Victoria Santos and a group from Whidbey Island, WA traveled to Cruz Verde, where she was born and spent much of her childhood. On this trip she felt pulled to respond to the community’s poverty and needs, and also felt inspired to share the depth and warmth of Dominican culture with friends. Sister Island Project grew in conversation and partnership with Cruz Verde community leaders. Since 2002, SIP has:

  • Built and continues to operate a multi-structure learning center 
  • Constructed 7 houses for community members in need  
  • Supported urgently needed health care for children and elders
  • Distributed scholarships to university students
  • Coordinated microenterprise projects like the ongoing women’s RECLAIM sewing project 
  • Organized hundreds of classes, youth trainings and health education sessions
  • Distributed over a ton of donations
  • Led summer arts camps 15 years in a row
  • Guided service trips for hundreds of volunteers, ranging from a week to 10 months…..and much more!
Kids dancing in the gallery of Learning Center, Cruz Verde, afternoon, with volunteers

 

Who We Are

VICTORIA SANTOS, CO-DIRECTOR

Born and raised in the Yabacao region of the Dominican Republic. Co-Director of Young Women Empowered. Master’s Degree in Latin American and Caribbean Studies. Guides groups and individuals in meditative practices, and facilitates dialogue and strategic planning around racial equity, diversity, organizational change and cultural transformation for leading Seattle organizations. 

PETER BLAUSTEIN, CO-DIRECTOR

Grant writer and evaluation coordinator with Young Women Empowered. Master’s Degree in Social Work. 25+ years in diverse human service settings. Has provided grant writing, program development and evaluation services for non-profits addressing issues including environmental education, mass incarceration, education for disabled children in Nepal, and more.  Teaches Latin dance. 

SIP Co-Directors Victoria Santos and Peter Blaustein at the site of the Learning Center before it was built

Board and Advisors  

Peter Blaustein See above.

Daniel Flood is an international teacher currently based in Vietnam and a former Sister Island Project volunteer. He brings a longstanding commitment to social justice.  

Nina Hernandez is a Dominican project coordinator who plays a central role facilitating and guiding Sister Island Project activities.

Dr. Pamela Johnson is a research scientist, nature lover and salsa dancer. She also volunteers with Sierra Club’s Inspiring Connections Outdoors program to help bring young people, especially young people of color, discover the power and beauty of the natural world.   

Teodoro Mañon, President of the Fundacion Cruz Verde advises and supports project activities, and coordinates environmental education activities for volunteer groups. 

Julio Moreno is a Cruz Verde community leader who advises and leads many project activities.  

Marta Mulholland served in the Peace Corps in the Dominican Republic. With a background in the arts, yoga, and work with the deaf community, Marta brings enthusiasm and a wide-ranging knowledge and skill base to her role on the board. 

Guillermina Reynoso, Math teacher/Engineer/Community Organizer (USA/Dominican Republic)  advises and supports project activities. 

Victoria Santos See above.