La Catalina Foundation

News, Reflections & Happenings...Fall 2013


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A Heart of Gold - Gabriela de la Vega

Every town has one or two of them….people whose dreams have no limits and who readily put their actions where their heart is.  La Manzanilla is lucky to have winter resident Gabriela de la Vega, a shining star brightening the lives of so many. And our Foundation wouldn’t be thriving today, if it weren’t for the commitment and dedication that Gabriela has poured into it as one of our founders, donors and board president.

Helping with La Catalina Foundation is just one of the many undertakings that Gabriela so eloquently juggles.  Other endeavors include running Universidad de Londres, in Mexico City, which Gabriela started in 1980 as a one-room school and has grown into a prestigious institute with a network of campuses across Mexico.  Also painting avidly, writing, traveling, and Tai Chi are some of Gabriela’s dearest passions.
Gabriela’s commitment to social causes didn’t start yesterday! In 1984, Gabriela was the founder of the Friends of Parks of Mexico and Spain, a non-profit association which protects plants and animals in park spaces in Mexico City. In 1985, she was a co-founder of Jomar, a non-profit supporting artist and writers to create alliances in New York and around Mexico.  In 1998, she founded Educate for Life Foundation, providing underprivileged children in Mexico City with scholarships and resources. Then, in 2002, she poured her heart into La Manzanilla, first participating on the Multi-Cultural Center board and then serving as one of the five founding members of La Catalina Foundation.

What makes Gabriela tick?  It must be her unbending passion, a true unconditional love for helping children and youth, and a uniquely positive attitude, always looking at how to make things work rather than focusing on why they might not work. When there is a problem, Gabriela’s famous expression is “Aváncese” or “let’s move forward!” She’s one of a kind…a bright star whose light has touched, and will continue to touch many.  

Computer Lab

Dreams do come true!  This spring we received a generous anonymous donation earmarked for creating a community computer lab—where local kids, youth and adults can have access to computers and instruction on how to use them.  As there are currently no computers at all for student use in the public elementary school and many adults lack any training on how to use computers, this project was deemed as a top educational priority by an overwhelming majority in the community.

The generous anonymous donation, along with some funds raised through the international crowdfunding platform indiegogo, went  to put down flooring, a cement roof, wire the classroom, put up signage, purchase tables and chairs, install air conditioning and purchase the first five brand new computers with some software.  The lab should be opening very soon for limited hours, while we continue to raise funds to purchase additional computers, the installation of a phone line and internet, and a salary for a part-time lab teacher to run on-going classes. To learn more about this project or to find out how you can help, please contact us.

Mural Finished!!!

Congrats to mural artist Rodrigo Rodriguez, a handful of creative Scholarship students along with board members Victor Amezcua and Julie Catton Amezcua for their collaborative efforts on the finishing the new mural at La Catalina Foundation.  The image is of Chalchiuhtlicue, the Aztec goddess of water, seas, storms and rivers, transmitting its waters to a garden of knowledge.  Be sure to take a stroll by the Foundation on your next visit to La Manzanilla (located right behind the Pre-School) and get an up close look at our new mural and improvements to our grounds.

Summer Camp 2013

It was a great 3-week summer program for La Manzanilla kids! Thirty-two Mexican kids, ages 6 -12, came out to learn English, develop their artistic abilities and play cooperative games. The themes for this summer’s program were: getting in touch with feelings/emotions; science; and the environment.

Thank you to La Manzanilla Ejido and the Tortilleria de Los Altos for sponsoring their Friday swim trips.  Also, thanks to our amazing team of local teachers, Gardenia, Lorena and Mari Mar for their great work and enthusiasm leading the camp!

This program was a highly subsidized program funded by parent contributions, funds raised in “A Night under the Stars Auction”, donated supplies and contributions from Gabriela de la Vega. 

Scholarship Program Serves Record Breaking Number of Students!!!

Thirty-eight La Manzanilla youth, ages 12 - 24, are currently receiving a scholarship to continue with their studies in middle school, high school and three universities in Mexico.  This is due to the extraordinary support of individuals or organizations who sign up to sponsor a student to study.
Eight students still need sponsors!!! Click here to see their photos, bios and what makes these students unique and worthy of a scholarship.

Thank you so much to our 2013-14 scholarship donors:
Alec Robertson
Allison & Pete DeLong & family
Amy Sudbeck
Andrew & Joanne Turner
Ann & Tim Edwards & family
Bruce & Peggy Turner
Cristina deRoos
Darrell Jang
David & Deborah Dagoli
Duane & Cheryl Chaves
Frances Pilato
Gabriela de la Vega & Pablo Martínez del Campo
Gary Ockenden& Anna Purcell
Helping Hands Bookstore
Irene Paulus
Jacqueline Walters
Jan Engemoen& Graham Hill
Joann & Ross Kipp
Joyce Hailicka
Kim O’Dell & Family
Larry & Judy Buttress
Lois Matthew & Ralph Strong
Lynn Phillips
Marcia Grothe
Marcia Jean
Marilyn Sudbeck
Marion Smith
Neal & Sue Donaldson
Nelson Ames & Gail Russell
Norma Rejall & Denman Island Friends 
Pam Bell
Peter Earley
Ralph Zimmermann & family
Rhema Cossever
Sandy Hill
Shanna McClarnon
Tony Mainwaring
University of Londres

For more info on the Wings scholarship program, click here.

New High School in La Manzanilla

Yes, it’s true, there is now a high school in La Manzanilla!  The school is temporarily housed in the middle school, and run in the afternoons, when the middle school kids finish their school day.  For this first year, the high school is just serving 1st year students (grade 10) and the plan is to expand and add an additional grade level each year, until the high school eventually serves grades 10, 11 & !2.

Many students are still continuing to attend high school in other towns, due to a number of reasons, including wanting to finish at the high school where they started their education and in the case of students attending CECYTEJ (Colegio de Estudios Científicos y Tecnológicos del Estado de Jalisco) they are able to specialize in a career field, so they can go directly into their specialized area upon graduating from high school.  But many folks are happy and relieved about this major feat and believe that each year the high school will attract more and more local students making education so much more accessible!

Wish List for Kid's Education, the online La Manzanilla visitor’s guide and La Catalina Foundation are running their annual school supplies drive.  Pencils, scissors, erasers, crayons and a variety of materials and needed at the schools and other educational institutions in La Manzanilla, as budgets are always tight, restricting accessibilities of many basic supplies necessary to operate more proficiently.  To see the complete and updated schools wish list for 2013-14, click here.

Pack some of these things in your suitcase on your next trip down to La Manzanilla, or alternatively, give a few dollars to help us buy these supplies locally.  Supplies or donations can be dropped off at June Nery’s house on #169 Manglares Street in La Manzanilla between October 27th – December 31st, 2013 and will be delivered to the schools during the first week of January 2014.  

              La Catalina Foundation, the schools and the children                                                of La Manzanilla say, “Gracias!”