A Commitment to Making a Difference: Cy Yannarelli

“My goal in life is to leave this earth in a better place than I found it.”

These are the profound words of Cy Yannarelli, an Edward Jones Financial Advisor and Mustard Seed Dominican Republic board member. Some might say that divine providence connected Cy with Mustard Seed Communities. While on vacation in the Dominican Republic, he learned about MSC’s commitment to caring for abandoned children with disabilities from a flier pinned to a bulletin board. A person of action, Cy paused his trip and drove over to Hogar Immanuel, our home in the DR to learn more. At the time, Hogar Immanuel consisted of one building sheltering 18 children with disabilities.. Then and there, he made a commitment to help. That was 16 years ago:his dedication has not wavered since.

As he puts it, “There are hundreds of children out there that suffer like you can’t believe, that have no place to go. I knew immediately I would do whatever I could to give these children, some just babies, a lifelong home where they would be loved, find joy, and live a life of dignity. Everyone, regardless of ability, deserves at least that in life.”

Knowing he could only do so much on his own, in 2009, Cy enlisted help from a group of dedicated volunteers and donors in Northern New Jersey. Consisting of 12-15 active team members, these committed supporters raise over $100,000 each year in cash and deliver crucial supplies to the Dominican Republic home. For example, each year, they provide more than 100,000 adult-sized diapers to Hogar Immanuel residents through their community-wide diaper drives!! The philanthropy shown by this group has rippled out beyond New Jersey to include a New York-based group. This team has been a key contributor to our work in the Dominican Republic by securing free shipping for the donated supplies to our home in the Caribbean.

Cy and his wife, Marlene, attend the groundbreaking ceremony for Hogar Niños de Dios.

In 2019, Cy and his wife took another visionary step: they purchased the land in Santiago that is now Hogar Niños de Dios. At our groundbreaking ceremony, Cy shared, “This is the beginning of a new and wonderful life for 56 abandoned children who would otherwise suffer a short and painful existence. Today was a wonderful day … not only because we are ready to begin the construction of Hogar Niños de Dios, but because of the great team of people who have committed to see that we achieve success. People from all walks of life — religious, government, education, healthcare, the local business community, and communities of Moca, Licey, and Santiago — have helped and supported us in this important work. We are incredibly grateful for your involvement. We thank the people who have dedicated their lives to caring for our children — our administrators, staff, nurses, therapists, and caregivers.”

Cy’s compassion and perseverance are a testimony to the impact one person can make. He has a remarkable vision for Mustard Seed; and so, he is rallying for others to join him in leaving this earth in a better place than when we started.