Breaking Ground on a New Beginning: Construction Begins on Second Home in Dominican Republic

Canca La Reina, Moca, Dominican Republic – Mustard Seed Communities is pleased to announce the groundbreaking for Hogar Niños de Dios, a new home for children with disabilities in Canca La Reina, Dominican Republic. On the morning of April 29, 2023, friends, benefactors, and residents of Mustard Seed Communities gathered on the project site to officially launch the construction of the new home.

The new home will be located on the outskirts of Santiago, the second-largest city in the Dominican Republic, and will provide a safe and loving environment for children with disabilities who have been abandoned. The facility — four residential cottages, a learning and therapy center, a health clinic, a chapel, and volunteer housing — will provide individualized care for each child. In addition to sheltering 56 children, Hogar Niños de Dios will offer education, therapy, and recreational activities to nurture a brighter future for the most vulnerable members of society.

The future site of the ten buildings and agricultural area that will comprise Hogar Niños de Dios.

“This will be a place where our residents will receive the joy, hope, and dignity they deserve and which we all desire for ourselves,” states Father Garvin Augustine, Executive Director of Mustard Seed Communities International. “This facility will also house a prenatal clinic for pregnant mothers to improve the health and well-being of their unborn child. Additionally, there will be physiotherapy and educational opportunities, as well as a chapel to serve the spiritual needs of the residents and the surrounding community.”

Michelle Shines addresses the audience.

The groundbreaking ceremony was attended by local government officials, community and spiritual leaders, supporters of the organization, and several smiling MSC residents. The event featured remarks by the following speakers: Anne Gilbert, Administrator of Mustard Seed Communities Dominican Republic; Michelle Shines, Director of International Programs at MSC; Father Garvin Augustine, Executive Director of MSC International; Cy Yannarelli, MSC Dominican Republic Supporter and Board Member; Monsignor Julio Cesar Corniel Amaro, Bishop of the Diocese of Puerto Plata; Monsignor Freddy Ant. De Jesus Breton, Archbishop of the Diocese of Santiago; and Victor Breton, Mayor of Canca La Reina. Attendees learned about the plans for the new home, the impact the medical center will have on the surrounding community, and were encouraged to tour the site.

Breaking ground for a new beginning — the first shovels hit the dirt in a momentous groundbreaking ceremony. Left to right: Cy Yannarelli, Michelle Shines, Father Garvin Augustine, Monsignor Julio Cesar Corniel Amaro, Victor Breton, and Anne Gilbert.

In the Dominican Republic, 12.3% of the population lives with some sort of disability. Oftentimes, children with disabilities in the country are abandoned because their parents are unable to provide them with the care they need to survive. In 2001, Mustard Seed Communities established Hogar Immanuel, a home for children with disabilities. With 48 residents that receive critical care, the home is currently at capacity. Hogar Niños de Dios will open a new living space for children with disabilities to be cherished and receive proper medical treatment — children who otherwise would live in crowded institutions.

Bianca, a resident of Hogar Immanuel, Mustard Seed Communities home for children with disabilities in Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic, and her caregiver cheer on the groundbreaking ceremony for Hogar Niños de Dios.

“This is the beginning of a new and wonderful life for 56 abandoned children who would otherwise suffer a short and painful existence,” shared Cy Yannarelli, a longtime, generous supporter and Board Member of Mustard Seed Communities, Dominican Republic. “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 that 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. In particular, we thank the people who have dedicated their lives to caring for our children — our administrators, staff, nurses, therapists, and caregivers.”

Architectural renderings of Hogar Niños de Dios which will include a Health Clinic.

The ten buildings that comprise Hogar Niños de Dios will be constructed within the next two years in two stages. According to the project timeline, two cottages, the medical center, and administration buildings will be completed in mid-2024. The remainder of the buildings and agricultural area will be completed by the end of 2025. Mustard Seed Communities has embarked on an ambitious $5.2M campaign in order to fund both phases of construction as well as ten years of operating costs for the home. To learn more about how you can be involved, visit

Residents of Hogar Immanuel, Mustard Seed Communities’ home in Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic, celebrate the groundbreaking of Hogar Niños de Dios, a new home for 56 children in Santiago, Dominican Republic.

“Today, we celebrated yet another milestone in our journey, made possible only through the collective efforts of numerous individuals and organizations,” added Michelle Shines, Director of International Programs. “Together, we will build a facility that serves the most vulnerable members of our society, elevating their lives and fostering hope for a brighter future.”