“The structure of the school enabled you to find your niche and venture into a new endeavor independently, knowing you’ll get help if you need it,” he recalled.
For most adolescent boys, a game of soccer on the beach wouldn’t turn into a life-altering experience. For Red Oaks alumni Sam Bensley, however, pick up games with locals during a trip to Nicaragua in 2005 made a lasting impact, inspiring a mission that continues today. During that trip, Sam saw how playing sports together fostered positive relationships. He also saw the need for quality sports education and equipment among communities in Nicaragua. In 2014, Sam founded Somos The Nicaragua Project. Sam works with a dedicated group of volunteers to raise funds and collect sports equipment to donate to communities in need in Central America. Somos also runs an annual service trip, where volunteers travel to Nicaragua to facilitate sports camps for local youth, donating all equipment when the camp ends. “I was in Nicaragua recently to visit one of our recipient communities and I got to see firsthand how our program helped get kids off the street and participating in a healthy pastime,” said Sam.
Though Somos is his passion, Sam also maintains a full time job as a District Manager for ALDI USA, the grocery store chain, which he began after graduating from Rutgers Business School with a BS in Marketing and Business Administration. Sam fondly recalls Red Oaks as a place where he was nurtured and supported, crediting that all-encompassing feeling of support as being influential in what he has achieved. “The structure of the school enabled you to find your niche and venture into a new endeavor independently, knowing you’ll get help if you need it,” he recalled. This sense of freedom to try something new certainly served Sam well when he decided to create a nonprofit organization before even graduating from college, and in turn will benefit countless young people in Central America. For more information or to donate to Somos, visit their Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/SomosTheNicaraguaProject/.