The Dominican Republic makes up half of the island of Hispaniola in the Caribbean. It is a vibrant and diverse country; the second largest in the region (after Cuba), and it is a place that a young woman named Ali Le Pierrès fell in love with during the summer of 2008. Volunteering for the DREAM Project, this young French-Canadian woman was embraced by a welcoming, warm-hearted community whose laughter, smiles, and dancing taught her a valuable lesson in happiness. Her fond memories of that summer-inspired Ali to frequently return to the Dominican Republic to visit, volunteer, and eventually to teach at the International School of Sosua.
Returning to Canada, she shared her experiences with her father Charles (president and co-founder of Canadian clothing line Judith & Charles). Charles had grown up a world away in France, but the more he learned about the Dominican, the more he recognized the struggles of the Dominican children were the same he had faced in his childhood, particularly the crushing weight of poverty. Charles knew firsthand that poverty was not only a physical condition but one that breeds low self-esteem, robs children of potential, and darkens any hope for a successful future.
When Charles learned to play sports, it did not solve these problems outright, but it gave him the tools – self-confidence, discipline, and a sense of his potential – to seize on the few opportunities given to him.
Together, the Le Pierrès interest in helping grew from mutual experiences in the Dominican Republic and the respect they held for its peoples and cultures. In 2015, the father-daughter duo undertook the creation of Charlie’s Foundation. A non-profit organization dedicated to expanding the educational and vocational opportunities of the Dominican youth. Together, Ali and Charles developed the program that provides lessons in English and tennis and through this Foundation offered the opportunity and life skills these children so desperately needed.
The Foundation uses tennis as a method to achieve its goals, which is about more than just making the students have fun. It is the belief that the skills learned on the court – the discipline and commitment to improvement – that truly translate into the classroom. Similarly, tennis instruction helps reinforce the day’s language lessons in a fun and engaging environment that encourages youth to use conversational English and provides another motivating factor for regular attendance.
In October 2018, the Le Pierrès joined forces with Perry Shak of RBC Wealth Management to host the Redefine Success Gala where Arlene Dickinson (Dragon’s Den, CEO of Venture Communications) was the guest speaker. The gala event, sponsored by Air Canada, Judith & Charles, and The Beat 92.5, saw over 350 attendees and brought in more than $160,000 for Charlie’s Foundation.
The additional attention to their cause has allowed the foundation to work towards their goals for the children of the Dominican Republic. “We are proud to know that proceeds will make a difference and empower the nation’s youth by providing new opportunities and lift barriers to a brighter future,” says Charles Le Pierrès.
Are you interested in donating or sponsoring a student during his or her time through Charlie’s Foundation? If so, click here!
- Helen Siwak is the founder of EcoLuxLuv Marketing & Communications Inc and publisher of Folio.YVR Luxury Lifestyle Magazine and digital women's lifestyle magazine EcoLuxLifestyle.co. She is a prolific content creator, consultant, and marketing and media strategist within the ecoluxury lifestyle niche. Post-pandemic, she has worked with many small to mid-sized plant-based/vegan brands to build their digital foundations and strategize content creation and business development. Helen is the west coast correspondent to Canada’s top-read industry magazine Retail-Insider, holds a vast freelance portfolio, and consults with many of the world’s luxury heritage brands. Always seeking new opportunities and challenges, you can email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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