Another year, another step closer – happy holidays to all!

By Lawrence Loh, MD MPH

Our team is in the midst of final preparations now for our trip down to the Dominican this year. This time, our trip has a different sense of purpose – the thrill of experimentation and trying to see if our crazy idea to optimize short-term trips will be received by the community. Our website is in its final stages of completion, and we will be conducting a needs assessment in the community, using surveys and interviewing key people to figure out how we can best start to deploy the numerous volunteer teams that will come down in 2013.

We have also received tremendous support from family and friends who have given funds to support our volunteers in their expenses. Much of the money donated will go to helping students participate in the experience, which we hope will be both a valuable learning experience for them while allowing them to meaningfully contribute to improving the health of the indigent in La Romana. It’s not too late to donate still if you’re up for it, visit the website here at:

While our tax receipts this year will come through our partners at the Whites School of the Arts Community Development Programs, exciting changes are afoot for The 53rd Week. The plan will be to file for 501(c)3 status upon our return from the Dominican Republic to allow us to better source funding for our organization individually. At the same time, we are looking forward to welcoming new members to our team, and undergoing a website revamp here (the blog will continue, but we hope to be able to provide more detailed, exciting content about the work that we’re trying to put together.)

Being believers of collaboration and networking, we know the best ideas are spread if they come from those closest to us. It’s a great time to chat with our family and friends to ask the simple question of what we can do to make this world a better place and what work that would ultimately entail. With the holiday season coming up, it’s always a good chance to use the time with family and friends to push forward the cause of good. Instead of just remembering the less fortunate in your thoughts this year, consider quality time with family and friends to push and ask the wider questions of – what can we do about it? And why aren’t we doing something about it?

The old adage goes that nothing is more powerful than an idea—but beyond that, nothing is more powerful than an idea that has been challenged and vetted by those around us. Having our ideas and dreams challenged is a sure way to work towards making them more robust and feasible. Imagine how much would change if everyone just took this special time to truly describe their dreams and ideals and the opportunity and advice that could arise from sharing. In the busyness of our day to day life, the holidays are always a mind-oasis and respite.

The 53rd Week wishes you all a restful, relaxing, and meaningful holiday filled with the conversations that matter. We’ll see you in 2013!

Lawrence Loh is Chief Medical Officer of The 53rd Week.

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