PEACE Release - January

Becci Burchett - PEACE
January 21, 2012

Over 15 children came to PEACE for a free Christmas camp each day to sing, play games, do crafts and eat lunch.

2011 gave us many reasons to celebrate. We've broken new barriers and deepened our programs and their impact.

As we enter our 7th year in the surrounding areas of Puerto Vallarta, it is increasingly evident that our education, animal and environmental programs have woven integral layers of local communities, strengthening them and becoming a part of the very identity of each town.

The entire PEACE team and thousands of beneficiaries would like to extend a huge thank you to all who financially supported us in 2011 and well as our volunteers who clocked over 10,500 hours! We are so excited to bring on new challenges, progress and milestones in the coming year.

Bustling Community Center Hosts Holiday Festivities

Our Casa Campesina headquarters were a happening place over the holidays! Over 15 children came to PEACE for a free Christmas camp each day to sing, play games, do crafts and eat lunch with PEACE employee Doña Chepi. Meanwhile, their mothers could attend art workshops to make piñatas, picture frames and ornaments as Christmas gifts for their families.

Because the average local family has very few photos, PEACE also offered family portrait packages at a very low cost. A photography workshop was offered by a computer animation and media university student, and PEACE employee, Jose Carillo, and the PEACE computer lab was full of children and adults improving their computer skills through daily help sessions. Help us fund similar activities throughout the coming year by donating here!

Volunteers Lead Popular Mosaic Workshops in Higuera Blanca

40 excited kids piled into a makeshift middle-school classroom under an Higuera Blanca tree for the first volunteer-run mosaic tile workshop last month. A group of friends and neighbors from Higuera Blanca and Punta de Mita have been working with PEACE to address the needs of local public schools for several years, and are now putting their talent and enthusiasm into our after school program.

PEACE employs teachers to run after school programs in four towns in the Bay of Banderas. Teachers, volunteers, and students from the after school program in Higuera Blanca are making stunning six foot tall totems each made up of eleven concrete blocks on a pole with mosaic images of nature, animals and other fun items. The totems were used as an auction item in the PEACE fundraiser, Arte Vida. The school will also have their own totem to remind them of their mosaic experience. The entire project was dreamed up by our amazing group of volunteers.

"The kids' work has gotten progressively better and better at each session," said Charlotte Rempfer, one of the star volunteers. "There are definitely some talented artists among these kids."

Even though the "classroom under the tree" is a temporary learning space, as two classrooms are under construction, the kids are in the shade and having a ball.

"The interaction between the kids, teachers and us has been one of the best parts for me," said Rempfer. "We speak limited Spanish, but we are delighted when we are able to legitimately be understood by the kids. It's truly an amazing experience."

We are so appreciative of our volunteers who are making such a huge impact! To read more about the volunteer-run mosaic workshops, visit our blog.

Community Spotlight

Welcoming Elizabeth (Beth) Brennan - age 29

Where are you from? I was born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio, but I've lived all over the place! I went to college in Durango Colorado, and completed graduate studies in Costa Rica. I also lived in Jackson Wyoming doing sales and marketing for a ski resort, and have been living and working in Chicago for the past two years.

What is your background experience? My expertise is in marketing, sales, nonprofit strategy, and business development.

What are your interests? Anything outdoors – I love trail running and skiing. I can't wait to learn all about the natural environment in Mexico and learn how to surf.

You are a brand new PEACE employee! What will be your role within the organization? I'll be the new Development Director. I'm really excited to expand PEACE's corporate sponsorship and donor base and get to know the PEACE community.

What interested you in PEACE? I was attracted to PEACE because of its grassroots effort and holistic approach to community development. I've never moved somewhere without visiting first - I'm excited to plunge in head first!

What is your greatest passion? My greatest passion in my professional life is to help others (Even though that sounds cheesy!). I'm also really interested how I can use my background in business to help PEACE further their mission.

What do you think is unique about PEACE? PEACE is a very inclusive organization and the staff is very devoted to what they do. It's really a place where very creative people have grouped together. Unlike many single-focused nonprofits, PEACE has a holistic, balanced mission, with education at the center of each initiative.

What is your dream for PEACE? I hope that we'll continue strengthening and growing our programs. I hope we'll be able to find constant funding for what we do, and I hope PEACE can serve as an example to other communities that are also going through this rapid change.

Welcome Beth!!!

As you reflect on the past year and establish goals for 2012, please consider your importance to PEACE and the impact you can make in communities that need you. Your continued support mirrors our future. Thank you for giving here.

Let's take on 2012 together!

Warm Regards,

Becci Burchett
Development Director

PEACE (Protection, Education, Animals, Culture, Environment) is a nonprofit organization working in the Bay of Banderas and beyond to increase educational and economic opportunities through community development programs in the areas of education, environment, animal health, and economic development.

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