Key “Friends of Copey”

At times I plan to highlight in this Blog some of the “Key Friends” of Copey.  These are supporters who step up and make a significant contribution of their talent or expertise to support our efforts with the Learning Center.

In January, I highlighted the wonderful and outstanding contribution made by Hailey Tibbett who volunteered to go to the Learning Center to work for three months.

Today, I am adding one more to the “Key Friends” list. Dr. Joe Thomas has been mentioned in the past a couple of times but I want everyone to know more about him and his involvement with the Learning Center.

You can find his story under the “Key Friends” tab on the Blog. Please read it and if you have any questions or comments, please do not hesitate to share them with us and the rest of the followers.

Before closing, I want to inform you that Hailey’s father Kevin has serious medical issues he and the family are confronting at this time.  Please join me in sharing our prayers and thoughts with the family at this time.  These are true “friends of Copey” and we wish them all well.



Letter from the Learning Center’s Board President

Dear Mr. Broady,

Copey Learning Center is a non-profit organization. It was created on June 26, 2010 by a group of Copey citizens, mostly farmers, whose mission was to promote the conservation of the environment and social development through learning.

After four years of volunteer work, the association feels that it is achieving its initial goal of providing opportunities for Copey’s community members to learn about topics that interest them.

The Board of Directors of the Copey Learning Center received your letter with much happiness and gratitude. Diversifying the types of volunteer collaboration Copey Learning Center receives is necessary as we continue strengthening our four units. We thank you for your support.Learning Center workers

Currently the following units make up the body of Copey Learning Center:

  • Environment – Promotes an attitude of conscientiousness and conservation of the natural environment.
  • Culture – Promotes respect for local culture and exchange of customs and traditions from the community at local, regional, national and global levels.
  • Languages – Provides foreign language lessons. Currently the Languages Unit provides the opportunity to attend English classes to approximately thirty students between the ages of six and twelve. Students take classes with native English speakers, who work on a volunteer basis.
  •  Tourism – Promotes agro-tourism activities with a low environmental and social impact.

We are excited to continue to work with you to achieve our mission. We appreciate your donation of funds to provide scholarships to under-privileged students in the community, your creation of a pen-pal system so that students in Copey can communicate with students in the United States, and the many other ways you’ve supported us.

We feel that it is now important to define how we can work together in the future. We await your response to this letter with ideas for continued collaboration and next steps.

As founder, director of the Board of  Representatives, and legal representative of the Copey Learning Center Association, I wish to express my sincere thanks for your support. Please know that we are available to you for whatever you need, from coordinating to realizing projects. Please feel free to contact me personally if you need anything.

Please let us know next time you plan to visit Copey as it would be a pleasure to organize a meeting of the Board of Directors in your honor.


Noemi Rodriguez

More March Madness….

First, I want to again encourage all my followers to check out the new book “Following my Tug…” written by Anne Lawrence. If as a follower you have any curiosity about the region and the people we are friends with, this book takes care of the curiosity. It is very unusual to be involved in a unique project like this and equally unusual to have available a real time book about the place and people we support. If you are curious, do yourself a favor and go for it…only about $8.00. Buying instructions are available in my last Post.  Anne Lawrence

Reading Bear is now being checked out at the Learning Center to see if it proves useful and effective in teaching English to the students. This unique web based tutorial program has a great track record for teaching ESL to non-English speaking students.

Special Thanks to Eve and the volunteer staff for working so hard on the AGB Scholarship Fund project. The donors have been notified of their assigned recipients and now look forward to receiving the profiles and watching their student’s progress throughout the year. I also want to thank each of you who financially supported the scholarship fund this first time around.

Learning Center workersThe new photo on the Blog’s header shows the front of the Learning Center. This temporary location is being used this year while a new facility is in the works for the 2015 year. The photo shows a colorful facility where the promise for a great future resides for the students who spend their days there. However, the physical and educational resources inside the facility are different from what we Americans normally think of as a standard classroom. Limited amount of space, too few desks, chairs, tables, along with other teaching aids and materials are some of the common barriers the volunteer teachers face each day at the Learning Center.

We, the “friends of Copey”, are very interested in all of the issues the staff faces each day and we will continue to look for ways to provide our support. In my next Post I will share with you a recent letter received from the Founder and Board Chair expressing her appreciation for us being supportive friends of the Learning Center. The letter confirms our mutual interest and recognizes our efforts as “friends of Copey”.

Regarding the Student Information Exchange Program (SIEP), there is some very exciting information to share…but you have to wait. This program will be a huge news item in a few weeks and I do not want to get too far ahead of myself. Keep following…!

Following my tug….

The decision to start writing a Blog was based on my desire to inform many of you of the ongoing progress we were experiencing with our support for the Copey Learning Center. This is what each Post attempts to do.

And almost each day, something new and exciting happens and my first reaction is to share it with all the followers of my Blog. Mostly it is just fantastic news about the wonderful work being done at the Learning Center. At times other news comes along related to the Learning Center that I want to share with you.

I have mentioned in the past my initial contact with the Copey Learning Center included my introduction to Anne Lawrence. She was present when I had my initial interview with staff at the Learning Center. Anne had moved to the Copey area with her husband Kevin and started a new life full of challenges. She became my direct point of contact during my first year working with the Learning Center. Anne recently published a wonderful book and I invite all the “friends of Copey” to purchase and read.

Anne LawrenceIn this lighthearted, and at times gut-wrenching, memoir, Anne shares both the physical and emotional reality of what it takes to leap out of her familiar First World existence and into the unknown. Anne and her husband reinvent themselves as they cope and adjust to living in a rural, Spanish-speaking community in the remote mountains of Costa Rica. You can follow their journey as they transform from middle-class suburbanites to unlikely trout farmers and B&B hosts. With her witty conversational style, Anne evocatively chronicles their daily adventures from the decision-making process to the move to their first year abroad. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry… but mostly, you’ll feel inspired! I was inspired by Anne within a few minutes during our first meeting to get involved with the Learning Center.  As they say, you know the rest of the story!  Please check out her story.

The price of the book is about $8.00 and Anne has indicated she will donate $1.00 from the sale of the book to the Learning Center when purchased by a “friend of Copey”.  To make sure your donation is accounted for, here is the process you should follow:

1. Please purchase your copy of the book  through Kobo:

2. At the very end of the book, there is a link, which takes you to Anne’s scrapbook. Only her readers get the opportunity to put faces to names and places she mentions in the book. It’s a fun bonus, if you like. Once you register (simply follow the instructions, which will guide you to the scrapbook). The fact that you registered will flag to Anne that you have indeed purchased her book.

3. Then, send a note directly to Anne at In the subject line simply state “I would like to donate $1.00 to the Copey Learning Center”. Doing this will identify you as a “friend of Copey” and the donation will be made. Please make sure the name you use to register for the scrapbook is the same name you use in the email to Anne, so she can correlate the two. You can let either Anne or me know if you have any questions.

4. You don’t have to own a Kobo eReader to download the book. You only need to sign in, create an account then you’re on your way. You can download to a variety of devices… choose the one that suits you best.

I can promise you will come to know more about Copey and love and appreciate your involvement with “friends of Copey”.  Anne, Thank you and Kevin for being “friends of Copey”.

March Madness…and Fun!

March will be another month of ongoing progress.  The Learning Center is still assigning students to donors and we are looking now towards a full month of major activities in support of the Learning Center.

In March we will be working closely with the Learning Center staff on introducing the “Reading Bear” program.  Joe Thomas, Ph.D is the past Chief Executive Officer of WatchKnowLearn and Reading Bear ( and He recently accepted a position with Junior Achievement USA as Vice President of Evaluation and Research.

Dr. Thomas has extensive experience working with students pursuing English as a Second Language and believes the free, web-based “Reading Bear” program could be very helpful to students at the Learning Center. We regard Dr. Thomas as a key “friend of Copey” and we are very fortunate to have him interested and working closely with us on this project.

Also in March we plan to expand the Student Information Exchange Program (SIEP) by adding another small group of students from an elementary school located in Southwest Virginia. We initiated the SIEP in late fall and pen pal letters have been exchanged between the Learning Center students and students from a local elementary school here in Washington. My next Post will highlight the outstanding teacher, another key “friend of Copey”, who will involve her students in the SIEP this spring.

Next, I have received a very positive letter from Noemi Rodriguez, Chair of the Board and Co-Founder of the Learning Center.  The letter is her response to my letter formally announcing the “Friends of Copey” and our commitment to support the work at the Learning Center. We are very pleased to be accepted by the Board.

Finally, we came close to losing a very good “friend of Copey” this week. Robert Barnard, his friend Mike, and the expert boat guide Eugene, had a serious boat mishap in Costa Rica this week. (Bob is pictured on the right)029

All three men barely escaped with their lives. Bob is also a great supporter and “friend of Copey” and we extend our very best wishes to all three men as they recover both physically and emotionally from this experience.

Bob is primarily responsible for my initial travel to Costa Rica. He introduced me to deep sea fishing and was with me on my first trip to Copey.