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Norvelt boy calls mission trip a life-changing time

| Wednesday, July 3, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
Victor Pomarico, 15, of Norvelt (first row, second from left) with counselors and youth he played basketball with during his recent mission trip to the Dominican Republic.
Kelly Vernon | The Independent-Observer
Victor Pomarico, 15, of Norvelt holds a machete he brought home as a souvenir for his father from his recent mission trip to the Dominican Republic.

Victor Pomarico, 15, of Norvelt came away with a new appreciation of the little things in life after his first mission trip to Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic.

“I learned that I am blessed with what I have. The kids wish they had the simple things like food, clean water, hygiene and education that people here take for granted,” Pomarico said.

He traveled during the week of June 8 with 23 members of Cornerstone Ministries Church in Murrysville.

Pomarico was part of a group that provided a vacation Bible school for approximately 300 children over a four-day period.

The school focused on the story of Joshua and Caleb, who put their faith and trust in God.

Gene Ramsey, a member of Cornerstone Ministries who worked with Pomarico on the trip, said that Pomarico portrayed a giant in the skit of Joshua and Caleb.

In addition, the group provided meals and water to children who attended. Pomarico said their water supply is not safe to drink.

Pomarico also played basketball with the Haitian refugees who populated the area. He said that most of the refugees lived in an abandoned hospital, where families shared one room of the facility.

There were other sports stations that children of the area could enjoy. Ramsey said that each of his students on the mission organized 25 to 30 Haitian refugee children during the games.

He added the children are used to fighting for their position to participate, but Pomarico had the ability to keep his game organized.

“I was proud of Victor, in the way he was able to keep his cool and methodically let each child shoot from the foul line,” Ramsey said.

Although Pomarico has had one year of Spanish schooling, he said he had to adjust to the dialect spoken by the native people of Santo Domingo.

He said the children were so malnourished and beset by growth deficiencies that it was difficult to determine their ages. He added that most of the older teenagers cared for their younger siblings as their parents were deceased.

Pomarico's mother Sheila said she was a little nervous, but with the church's great leadership, she knew he would be safe.

Pomarico said if given the chance, he would participate in another mission trip next year.

He would also encourage other young people to experience it.

Pomarico said even though we can't everyone, it is important to help.

He said he feels it is important for other young people to participate in the eye-opening experiences which mission trips can deliver.

He is the son of Sheila and Victor Pomarico of Norvelt.

Kelly Vernon is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-547-5722 or