In its sixth year of existence, Somos The Nicaragua Project took its first group trip to rural Nicaragua in two years last month to help distribute approximately 2, 500 pounds of sports equipment to the locals that it helped gather over a period of time.
The donations will assist countless children in enjoying various sports while developing them into better individuals over time, Sam Bensley — the founder of Morristown’s Somos, a sports-related 501(c)(3), all-volunteer charity — said.
In full swing now, Bensley noted that Morristown’s Somos has gradually become more self-sufficient since its inception in 2014, seeing fewer pitfalls along the way.
Additionally, not only do the children increasingly benefit from Somos’ benevolent missions but the volunteers, who numbered 12 strong, including Bensley, have also developed more of a selfless mindset.
“Every year, we have more impactful trips than in prior years,” Bensley said. “This trip was one of our best yet, with regards to the benefit to the communities we went to. It was a benefit to the volunteers as well. To be a citizen of the world is a good mentality to have.”
Somos spent two days visiting the Nuestros Pequeños Hermanos, a group home in Jinotepe, Nicaragua, hosting various sports camps, which included kickball, mixed martial arts, futbol (soccer), and baseball, for disadvantaged children.
It also held medical clinics and helped deliver medical supplies to local hospitals, with COMMIT, a charity comprised of a team of medical professionals who assist the less fortunate in Nicaragua.
Bensley said that Nuestros Pequeños Hermanos also sports an onsite school, too, with 75 percent of its student body traveling in from other areas and 25 percent who live at the group home.
He said that children experienced a ton of joy and gained hope from Somo’s visit to Nuestros Pequeños Hermanos. Somos also weaves in educational lessons with its sports-themed participation.
“We were very happy with the results,” the Rutgers University graduate said. “It (our success) helps us continue to strive to help more people year after year.”
But Bensley’s biggest satisfaction came from seeing the kids he first met five years ago and witnessing how much they have grown physically and mentally during his last voyage.
“Some of the kids were adolescents five years ago, are (now) young adults,” Bensley recalled, with glee in his voice. “One way to measure our success is seeing that they’re now becoming contributing members of their community.”
From a simple notion to methodical planning and gut-busting work, Bensley doesn’t believe Somos will cease the outstanding human service it has performed over the years any time soon.
“It’s interesting how things turn out,” he said. “It started out as an idea, and it’s something we’re able to do it every year. As long as I’m capable of doing it, I’ll keep doing it.”
To make a monetary donation and/or host an athletic equipment drive in your own community, go to www.somoscharity.org/.
— Jerry Del Priore