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 published: 2006-07-04

Great things from small beginnings

The Penny Power Project


El equipo de „Penny Power“

The Penny Power Team

Das “Penny Power Team”

Foto: Dentice © 2006


USA, Ann Dentice. It was a three day pilgrimage to the Dominican Republic in 1993 that sparked the creation of Penny Power... Ann Dentice shares how the "Penny Power Project" began and unfolded, a project that helps run the Nutrition Center of the Schoenstatt Sister of Mary in the Dominican Republic, with an annual total of 16,000 US$.

Ann Dentice shares: The journey itself was not preplanned but the result of an off-handed invitation from Maria Stadelmann. She asked if I would like to join her and Maria Sommeraur (both of Milwaukee) for their three-week pilgrimage. The only reason I agreed to consider the invitation was my recollection of a long past remark by Sister Thomasine that I should go to the Dominican Republic. Checking with my daughter-in-law took care of the airfare as I could get a family pass. Time off of work was already arranged as I always took Holy Week as vacation. Divine Providence was evident! Mother takes perfect care!

A visit that changed my life

This island country is truly beautiful, the clear blue Caribbean, sandy beaches, palm trees, flowers blooming everywhere, in short, a tropical paradise! The sight of dismal poverty in the midst of this paradise was a culture shock I’ll never forget. Fortunately for me, Sister Janice, who had spent many years there serving the poor, gave me the benefit of her experience and wisdom. I can’t recall all that she shared with me, but the bottom line was, "God our Father has the whole world in his hands" and "It is better to light one small candle than to curse the darkness!"

The Schoenstatt Center in La Victoria is modest, lovingly cared for, and situated on beautifully landscaped grounds. The little chapel, the shrine of our Mother Thrice Admirable, is its focal point. Some of the village ladies come there every morning and sweep the grass around the shrine. ("Sweeping" the grass with broom bristles of dried native vegetation is very effective in cleaning up the fallen tropical leaves.) They are so proud of this spiritual oasis! The people I met were so warm and welcoming. It was my pleasure to spend time with them.

Our visit to the Child Jesus Nutrition Center is not easy to describe – the poor little children are served here. It is a place of love and of hope. Many of these children would die if they did not have this center.

My short three-day-stay was filled with impressions and adventures.

The day I left the Dominican Republic, I asked our MTA to never let me forget what I had seen on this journey and to show me just what she wanted me to do with this experience. She wasted no time.

The beauty of this project is its simplicity

Sister Jacoba (now General Superior of the Schoenstatt Sisters of Mary) suggested that I get a group of Schoenstatt members together to brainstorm on how we could help the Sisters in La Victoria with their mission to the poor. My daughter Laurie Gomez gave us the two sure-fire fund raisers: rummage sales and penny banks.

The rummage sales were so very successful, expanding each year until the fourth sale which netted over $3,000. However these gigantic rummage sales proved to be gigantic headaches, causing gigantic stress!

We therefore turned all our efforts to the penny banks. The beauty of this project is its simplicity. Anyone can be a Penny Power Person. Just take a bank, drop pennies in it when you can, turn it in whenever you are ready. We have those people who go beyond the basics by taking banks to work or giving them out to children. Some have placed them in friendly shops. There are those in the various states who collect the banks, count the money, and send us a check.

What a wonderful apostolate Penny Power has become, thanks to our 600+ participants scattered in twenty-three states and New Zealand. Our annual total has climbed to over $16,000!

We can change the world

The periodic Penny Power Newsletter keeps everyone informed and encouraged in this labor of love. The news we share translates to the most important point – every single penny counts! Material for the newsletter is provided by young ladies who have spent time working in the Dominican Republic, by the Sisters who are assigned there, and by our Penny Power People who write to us with their stories and comments.

Our enthusiastic and faithful Mission Circle Committee gathers to label the banks, mail out the newsletters, and open banks when necessary. Ralph and Marlene Meiers arrange for the acquisition of the banks, Mary Fahl cleans the coins, Sister Marihedwig, our liaison with the Schoenstatt Sisters, takes the money to the Waukesha State Bank for counting and transfers the funds to Sister Andrea in La Victoria.

Best of all is the spirit of family that has come about through of this apostolate. We are thankful for all the many blessings our MTA has showered on us because of Penny Power!

Need a bank? Email Ann at:


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