Building houses, saving horses, changing lives

By Ellen Cooke

Lisa Zafonte-Maffei takes a trip of a lifetime in Nicaragua

A trip to help people in need in Nicaragua turned into a trip of a lifetime for Legal’s Lisa Zafonte-Maffei. Lisa accompanied her 14-year-old daughter Jillian on a high school trip to build homes in the town of Chacraseca, population 8,000. (Older daughter Justine had been there the year before.)

“You don’t realize the things you take for granted every day until you go somewhere like this,” says Lisa. “Our ‘roughing’ it is how people live all the time. It really puts things in perspective.”

Roughing it for Lisa and her group of students, chaperones and faculty from Northport, Long Island included:

  • Two cool, quick outdoor showers over the course of the 10-day trip
  • Working sun-up to sun-down (7am – 7pm) mixing cement by hand, caring for farm animals (including an injured working horse), gathering and chopping wood, and more
  • Living out of backpacks and sleeping in cots outdoors

The big payoff? “Knowing all the hard work helped change some lives. I definitely plan to go back again!”

Students for 60,000 – which ‘provides students and parents with meaningful opportunities to assist the poor’ – sponsored Lisa’s Nicaragua excursion. Projects range from building homes, to supporting education, to creating potable water systems.

Hands Together NY logoLisa also serves on the Board of our Hands Together New York downstate volunteer group. Hands Together NY is a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to, and passionate about, raising funds to help those struggling with issues of hunger or homelessness in our local communities.

To find out more or join the group, go to or call 516-545-3321. The organization could always use more helping hands!

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