WORK WEEK, NOV 2017...Our personal journey!
By: Lori Draper
I was one of four amigas from Seward, Alaska who headed down to Cofradia, Colima, Mexico on October 27th, with no small degree of uncertainty about what to expect from our work week called "Community and Culture" which was taking place during Dia de Muertos. We arrived at our casa and were surprised by the spacious and modern accommodations. We opened our welcome packets and began to study our daily activities. "Work week?" one of us said, "this is a vacation!" I had a sleepless night that night. I had signed up to try to make a difference somewhere, would this be what I was looking for? Fellow Rotarians in Alaska have attended work weeks at Project Amigo and described it as life changing. I guessed that remained to be seen.
As we started our week, and met the others in our group, my fears began to diminish. We started with some light manual labor, opening, sorting, and labeling books that would be distributed to schools later in the week. We were then whisked off to the local elementary school to see a Dia de Muertos pageant. We were immediately caught up in the sense of celebration and importance of this multi-day festival, and struck by the lovely way our Mexican neighbors deal with death and honoring loved ones who have passed away.
The week proceeded in a whirlwind of visiting schools, migrant worker camps, and homes. We interacted with young people from elementary to university age. We read with them, we danced with them, and clumsily helped them try on the new shoes we brought them. We took some to the State Fair. More than a few tears were shed, as we were moved by the activities with the kids. The time with work and kids was generously interspersed with cultural immersion and learning opportunities galore- cooking class, a lecture from a volcanologist, tours of an organic chocolate farm and a rum distillery, to name a few, all while being fed delicious authentic Mexican food. And in the end, all of us were changed by being part of something bigger than ourselves, and left elated knowing that we were a small part of improving lives, one at a time.
United Nations of Project Amigo
In November 2017 the Project Amigo Board of Directors assembled for the PAUSA annual meeting in Cofradia de Suchitlan, Mexico. This year marked a special milestone by having representatives from all three boards (USA, Canada and Mexico) in attendance. All felt this was a giant step forward in the three board's long history of collaboration, with all striving to fulfill the mission of transforming lives through education.
The weekend focused on how each could better serve our community. Mexico's Board reported on their outreach directly to students. They also announced a strategic partnership agreement for priority placement in the corporate field for internships.
Canada reported on staff commitments and introduced their new Canadian Liaison Representative. In addition, the PA Canada Board will continue to market and push for more Canadian citizen's participation in the work in Mexico.
The United States Board reported growth in student's sponsorships and new corporate partnerships. In addition, the U.S. board reaffirmed their commitment to help and grow Project Amigo to serve as many students and their families as possible.
Working together, Project Amigo's future is as bright as ever!
Bringing Warmth...One Child at a Time
By: Sam Brown
In July 2017 forty-six Project Amigo students were the first to receive Project Amigo afghans. This was part of a project that will eventually produce enough afghans for all 160 scholarship recipients and over 300 students in the primary school incentive program.
Many Project Amigo students live in unheated homes up in the mountains where it can get down to the 50s at night. Hopefully the afghans will help keep them warm on chilly nights, contribute to many nights of restful sleep, and lead to alert students who do much better academically.
The afghans come from squares knitted or crocheted by volunteers in the U.S. and Canada, and then the squares are mailed to the home of Samuel and Sharon Brown in Connecticut where the squares are arranged into designs. Finally, bundles of the squares are sent to volunteers around the United States who are scheduled to soon travel to Mexico to participate in Project Amigo work weeks. The bundles are checked with the baggage of the travelers and hand-delivered to Project Amigo.
For each completed afghan, seamstresses in Colima receive 250 pesos (less than 14 U.S. dollars) from Project Amigo, paid for by contributions from volunteers in the U.S. and Canada. The seamstresses usually only have primary school education or less and have few options of employment in their villages. This project permits them to work from home and to contribute to the financial well-being of their families. In addition, they can take pride in knowing that they are helping to create useful things of beauty that will be treasured by those who receive them.
If you would like to contribute toward the wages of the seamstresses, click on the Donate button and in the notes field write Wages for Seamstresses. If you would like to knit or crochet squares for the project please click on the directions link at my website.
Project Amigo is active in transforming lives through education, and as witnessed
during the meeting of the Boards of Directors, many factors play a major role in the path towards a good education. Project Amigo has seen the need and has begun community wide programs to help students and their families.
Project Amigo helps the whole community:
Please consider a year an end gift to fund these crucial programs. Health, hunger, clothing, families are all needed to offer quality, transformative education. Your support of our general funds allow us to reach more effectively to assist the very needy.
Together we are changing lives!
Leave a Legacy
Planned giving, sometimes referred to as gift planning, may be defined as a method of supporting non-profits and charities that enables philanthropic individuals or donors to make larger gifts than they could make from their income. While some planned gifts provide a life-long income to the donor, others use estate and tax planning techniques to provide for charity and other heirs in ways that maximize the gift and/or minimize its impact on the donor's estate.
Whether a donor uses cash, appreciated securities/stock, real estate, artwork, partnership interests, personal property, life insurance, a retirement plan, etc., the benefits of funding a planned gift can make this type of charitable giving very attractive to both donor and charity.
You have shown how you live your life generously as well as show your concern for others in numerous ways. That legacy of caring could cross borders and influence generations. Please consider Project Amigo in your estate planning through a living trust, as beneficiary in a life insurance policy, or another way. Please speak with your financial advisor and let us extend your influence for many years to come.
Our trips are filling up, so sign up now to spend a week getting to know our amazing scholars. When you volunteer for a Work Week at Project Amigo, you will make a difference while building friendships to last a lifetime. See our schedule here:
The entire team at Project Amigo has been busy with our students returning to school for the fall, a new program with the health clinic in Cerro de Ortega, more students than ever being served by our programs and a new Work Week season coming upon us. Our volunteers are such an important part of the support that comes from the US and Canada, and we're excited about the ability to show case a unique corner of Mexico for them. It's a corner that may be poor in material possessions and necessary services, but it is rich in culture.
Our US Board of Directors will be heading to Cofradia in another month to spend a few days focused on the vision of Project Amigo, ensuring that operations are meeting the needs of the area and the standards we have all come to expect. We spend the time embracing the work that is being done for the kids of Colima. Every year we make this journey south of the border for an intense but enjoyable retreat that brings together the talents and expertise of a very dedicated group. Along with the members of the US Board, we also share the time with the leadership of our Canadian Board and work closely with the Mexican Board. Each board has its own distinct function, and together we support the vision of improving the lives of the children and communities of Colima.
If you have been involved with Project Amigo and would like to know more about the work of any of the boards, please let us know. We would be happy to share what we do, how we support the program, and what you can do to take a greater role in the work Project Amigo.
Earthquake and the Aftermath
As you know, a massive 7.1 earthquake shook Mexico City on September 19th. This totally devastating earthquake demolished more than 40 buildings and killed over 300 people. Colima suffered only minor damage, and all staff and students are safe. However, there are many Project Amigo families who have been affected through having relatives and friends living in and around Mexico City. In addition, another earthquake hit the state of Oaxaca, further rattling a country still coming to grips with the devastation. Many of our supporters have asked "How can we help," knowing Project Amigo is always here to serve our community. If you wish to help us purchase needed items we can send to those affected by this tragic earthquake, please click on DONATE! Simply denote "Earthquake" in the comments area. At this time you can best assist by sending only monetary donations, so that we may purchase the very most needed goods and supplies. Project Amigo cares about our community, and will arrange for all items to be received by the affected families. Thank you.
Santa, piñatas, gifts, fiesta..Oh My!
December 3 - 10, 2017
Join Project Amigo for our Annual Christmas Fiesta. This week is one of the most popular and will be sure to sell out soon as there are ONLY 6 SPOTS LEFT! The Christmas Fiesta is a highlight of the year for our kids - and kids at heart! You will wrap gifts, decorate, stuff piñatas and play host with SANTA! Come and help us celebrate this most wonderful time of the year. Becoming a volunteer NOW for our Christmas Fiesta Work Week assures you will receive no coal in your 2017 stocking!
Additional Work Weeks are available here. A week has been designed to fit every interest and passion. Be sure to visit and reserve your spot today as Project Amigo has limited openings for these weeks. When you volunteer for a Work Week at Project Amigo, you will make a difference while building friendships that last a lifetime.
Project Amigo Canada Society hires Canadian Representative in Mexico!
Project Amigo Canada Society is in the process of applying for charitable status with the Canadian Revenue Agency. The CRA expects charitable organizations to monitor and control donations as per their legislation. In an effort to satisfy this requirement, Project Amigo Canada Society has engaged a part time Canadian Intermediary.
We are excited to announce that Elly Contreras, a founding member and Past President of PACS has accepted this very important role as Canadian Intermediary and will work for the Canadian board on a 6 month contract arrangement.
Elly's involvement with Project Amigo started in 2008 when she experienced her first volunteer workweek and later, served as a Volunteer Coordinator in Cofradia, Colima. Over the years she has gained an in depth knowledge of the program and she is still very passionate about Project Amigo. Her annual visits have become some of the most enjoyable and rewarding moments of her life. Elly and her husband Ramiro winter for 6 months in Manzanillo Mexico only 2 hours away from the project. They both are fluent in Spanish.
As Canadian Intermediary, Elly's role is to make frequent visits to Cofradia in support staff and volunteers, assist with communication between the Mexican operation and the Project Amigo Canada Society Board.