“I cannot do all the good that the world needs. But the world needs all the good that I can do.”
If you had been with me one afternoon last week you might have that tattooed so you could refer to it easily. I went for a drive with Susan Davalos and Henry Golas, both from the International Friendship Club (IFC), to some of the poorer parts of Puerto Vallarta and visited four community centres and one family that are helped by IFC’s “social services” program.
Solo Con Voluntad is in Las Juntas, close to Home Depot, and is just a hole-in-the-wall soup kitchen for the homeless and destitute. It’s a registered non-profit organization (“A.C.” in Mexico) and there we met Blanca who runs it with the help of her husband, her four kids and a few volunteers. They collect donated clothes and sell them on the sidewalk, use the cash from that to buy rice, beans, pasta and whatever else they can get for their few pesos and cook and serve that food in a tiny kitchen/feeding area that is about 200 square feet. Breakfast and lunch is served five days a week to as many as sixty people at a time. She and her family do this work “because it’s the right thing to do.” They simply get joy and satisfaction from helping others. They have no financial support from anyone other than IFC and an organization that collects plastic bottle caps.
Our next stop was at Dives en Misericordia in Ixtapa. This too, is an A.C. and serves as a community kitchen for children and gives them a place to do their homework. They are currently finishing a new building that will provide two dozen beds for single mothers and their children who are homeless or fleeing family violence.
On our way to our next soup kitchen we stopped to see some friends of Susan; Pedro Lorenzo, his wife and two boys. Pedro had an industrial accident a few years ago, was badly burned and had both legs and his right arm amputated so now he is in a wheel chair. I have no idea how he gets around but he told me that his “job” is selling Chiclets on Olas Altas. He has no pension or workers compensation and relies on charity to help him and his family get through from one day to the next.
We then visited a couple of organizations that serve as community centres that provide food to hungry families in the colonias of Magesterio and Saltrillo, where many people live in shacks made of plastic sheeting and cardboard. Pastor Luis Miguel Vazquez Reyes and his wife Lupita are the pastors at Arrayo de Esperanza and at New Beginnings and their daughter, Damaris is guiding the kids and running classes. Both places provide a safe place for kids to get hot meals and help with their homework, play on one of four soccer teams and receive encouragement to follow their dreams. Best of all they are taught the values of respect, kindness and love which, in some of their homes where the parents are addicted to drugs, alcohol and violence, can be hard to get.
“The world needs all the good that I can do” never rang truer. If you would like to help Pedro or one of these organizations, please make a donation to IFC.
IFC website: http://www.ifcvallarta.com/class_custom1.cfm