Annual Report from Amigos de Jaltemba

Dave Easby - Amigos de Jaltemba
April 2, 2012

As the winter season winds down, this is an opportune time for Los Amigos to provide a report to the community that we serve on what has been accomplished in the past year – and what our plans are for the next one.

The year began with a change in name. After operating as Los Amigos de La Peñita for a number of years, we changed our name to Los Amigos de Jaltemba over the summer to reflect the fact that our members come from all of the communities that make up the Jaltemba Bay area – and our programs now cover the whole region as well.

The Plastics Recycling Program that Los Amigos first put in place in 2008 continues to gain momentum. We are now collecting an average of 4,000 kilos of plastics each month. We were fortunate enough to receive a grant of $13,167 USD from the Del Norte Rotary Club.

The lion's share of the money went to making more recycling baskets and our dedicated team of volunteers produced a total of 316 new baskets which are being used to expand the program – particularly to hotels and bungalows. We have mounted an active campaign to get these businesses involved in recycling. Workshops, hosted by Tony and Gayle Dixon, were held every Saturday from mid-December until early March and they attracted a cross-section of volunteers – both seasonal and permanent residents.

A major new element of our program was the establishment of a public awareness campaign that focuses on keeping Jaltemba Bay beautiful though recycling – and other measures. A key feature of the campaign was the adoption of a mascot – a pelican. The new mascot, designed by David Wallace, is the centerpiece of the educational campaign. Besides appearing on the new baskets, Sydney Richmond has designing a stuffed toy version that is being provided to schools to serve as a reward for the classes that collect the most plastics.

Marion Rogers has scripted a puppet show about recycling, featuring the mascot, and written a couple of songs that students from Colegio Cervantes are performing for the primary schools in the area; the show is playing to rave reviews.  A contest is underway in the schools to give the new mascot a name. A number of videos that can be used on local cable television are being produced. The first one is complete and can be seen on the Los Amigos website. Also, street banners and other promotional products aimed at the general public are being produced.

The Education Committee has also been extremely busy. Two new kinders were completed this year. After more than two years of planning, fundraising and several months of construction, Kinder Josepha Ortiz was inaugurated in late February. The new classroom will serve the communities of Las Ladrilleras, Las Rosas, El Campesino, El Girasol and others in the northwest corner of La Peñita.

A second kinder was completed in La Joya – at the south end of Guayabitos – although the official inauguration has not yet taken place. Pictures of one of our kinder workdays even made it to the pages of the CBC News website.

Since the Education Committee was first created a little more than 3 years ago, they have now built four new kinders and finished another seven maintenance projects at local schools. Carlos Flores was recognized for his work with the committee at the annual Rotary dinner.

At its last meeting, Los Amigos approved funding for two additional projects next year – the construction of a breakfast area at Ninos Heroes in La Joya and the construction of a civic patio at Juan Escutia in Las Cabras. An additional four projects are ready to proceed if additional funding can be found.

Through the generous support of a number of individuals, Los Amigos was able to provide scholarships to 26 students at CONALEP. In addition to providing financial support, Los Amigos is providing leadership development training to these community leaders of tomorrow. They are involved in "Learning for Life", a nine month program provided under a Rotary Matching Grant from Kalispell, Montana, the Jaltemba Bay Rotary Club and the Rotary Foundation.

The "Learning for Life" project occurred in 3 phases, each lasting 3 months. The first phase was Self Leadership and was designed to help build personal skills. The second focused on Team Work to build basic team skills and the third phase (Leading Others) focused on creating and building specific projects. Scholarship students are required to participate in community projects and were involved in everything from building recycling baskets to helping out at our Fiesta to working on a dengue fever prevention campaign.

We have established a goal of supporting 40 scholarship students next year and a number of generous individuals have stepped forward with contributions to help us reach that target. On their own initiative, these future community leaders have expressed a desire to create a community service club at their school. Our mentors are working with them to formulate an ambitious agenda for this coming year.  

Two new committees became a part of Los Amigos this season.

We have taken the first steps towards the creation of a teachers resource centre to help improve the quality of education in the community. At present, teachers have very few resources to support their work in the classroom.

Los Amigos has organized three meetings of local teachers to date and more than 30 local teachers have participated. The teachers have elected a steering committee and are working to develop operating procedures and establish a list of needed materials. Los Amigos has allocated 40,000 pesos to support the committee's work next year and has a proposal in to the Seattle Rotary Club in an effort to secure funding for equipment.

Our second addition was Telpochcalli. The program provides an escape hatch for children with challenging home situations and an alternative to drugs and alcohol. A creative outlet for many local talented children, it helps them build friendships and create community amongst themselves with like-minded kids. Mentors provide a listening ear and training in leadership and responsibility, believing that these children are our future leaders and teachers. A performance by the group brought the crowd to its feet at our recent Fiesta. Members voted to supply 41,000 pesos to the group for supplies for the upcoming year.

Los Amigos decided to take a new approach with respect to its fundraising this year – to hold a community event that we hoped would involve a broad cross-section of the community: Fiesta 2012 – A Taste of Jaltemba. The event proved to be a rousing success – both from a party and a financial point of view. The crowd peaked at more than 500 people and we raised roughly 120,000 pesos. We hope to hold a similar event next year.

In addition, Las Tres Amigas (Maxine Zurbrigg, Helma Stewart and NoraDixon) have taken in upon themselves to organize a couple of wildly successful smaller events – and they have big plans for next year.

Our weekly kiosk at the tianguis every Thursday had another good year. Peter Martin and his team of volunteers are important in raising not only funds but also awareness.

Little Girl Waiting by Evelyne Boren

The Guayabitos Artists Collective produced a number of great t-shirt designs again this year and we were also fortunate to get a design donated by Evelyne Boren.

The Executive welcomed two new members this year. Adriana Hildrogo became our new Treasurer (replacing Bruce Hilton) and Deb Peckham was recently elected as International Vice President (replacing Eddie Dominguez). We are still looking for a new International Secretary.

We also established new bylaws and created a new website – which now allows individuals to make direct donations to the organization. Our membership has now grown to 230 people – with about 60% of them being Mexican nationals.

None of this would be possible without the support of all of you – the folks who volunteer to help out at our various projects and events. And, a special thanks to the folks who support us financially through their participation in our events, their purchases at our tianguis booth and their direct donations.

Thank You!

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