Can You Spell Winners…..?

Once again we have great news coming from the small town of Copey. Well actually, the really great news is coming directly from the Learning Center.

The big news is about a Spelling Bee Competition (spelling English words) held at the local school in Copey. According to Eve Solomon, the Learning Center’s Coordinator, “this Spelling Bee is a nationally renowned event, appearing on national television in Costa Rica. Studying at Copey Learning Center prepared its students to succeed in this competition, which is a really big deal.” The entire country gets involved as the competition starts locally, then regional competitions are held in October, and finally a national competition is held in November.

A total of twelve students attending the Learning Center competed together with students who only attend the public school. To be clear, most of the students at the Learning Center also attend the public school each day before heading to the Learning Center afterwards to obtain additional English language education.

NEWS FLASH…….The four top place winners were all Learning Center students.

The winners are, from right to left, Ariana – 1st place, Camil – 2nd place, Dayana – 3rd place, and Tatiana – alternate.

Spelling bee winnersIt is also great news that Tatiana on the far left is an AGB Scholarship student sponsored by Jerry Merritt. Second Place Camil is not an AGB scholarship student but her twin sister Katrina is. Camil is able to attend the Learning Center because the scholarship used by Katrina allows her parents to afford to send Camil. So our support indirectly contributes to Camil’s success.

Other AGB Scholarship students participants included Silvia Karina sponsored by Bette Ward, Katrina sponsored by Dr. Lin Church, and Pablo Jesus and Anyela sponsored by Jerry Merritt. All donors are “Friends of Copey”.

We congratulate these very fine winners and the other participants. We wish the winners continued success at the next competition next Wednesday.

This is further proof that students attending the Learning Center are developing an educational advantage for their future. Students living in Copey must become educated capable of reading, writing (spelling), and speaking English. This is a critical skill needed by those less affluent aspiring to attend college or benefit from professional or technical employment opportunities the emerging and growing Costa Rican economy is producing.

Our Tribute to Mom…One Year After

On this day a year ago, both family and friends said goodbye to one very gracious lady…Anne G. Broady, our Mom. She was born on September 11, 1925. Therefore, 9/11 meant something very special to our family long before the Twin Towers were hit by terrorists.

She was both old school at the same time very contemporary. She loved Count Basie, Ella Fitzgerald, and Billie Holiday and was up with James Brown, Michael Jackson, and even Whitney Houston.

She moved along with the times but never forgot or lost her values, principles, or faith. She could be a friend to anyone and gathered and kept many friends over the years. She was a friend to all and a stranger to none.

???????????????????????????????Faith and family would be the two most important anchors in her life. She grew up in the church, sang in the choir, and made certain Patty, Johnny, and me were in church each Sunday. There was never a day when she was without her faith and belief in God.

Mom married Dad in the mid 40’s and said goodbye to him far too soon when he passed away in 1976. She “never” showed any interest in another man after Dad and this was a fun topic of conversation we would often have with her.

In the mid 80’s, Mom relocated to Washington State to live near me and shortly thereafter, both Patty and then Johnny also moved to Washington from the east coast. The family being close together again, she would become a daily part of our lives for the next 30 years. There is not enough space to share all that took place over these 30 years.

So, the past year has been very challenging for Patty and Jim (Patty’s husband) and me. Johnny passed away in 2011. Mom was part of our lives each day and we miss her telling family tales and sharing old memories. We miss her enthusiasm for sports especially the Seattle Mariners, Seattle Seahawks, Earnhardt, Jr., and Tiger. We miss marveling at her ability to do difficult crossword puzzles or talking about soap operas. We miss sitting at the dinner table with her and watching her laugh until she cried while listening to our crazy stories about people and events.

Truly, a day does not go by without feeling her touch or hearing her voice. We miss all this and sometimes it just hurts and there is very little that can be done about it. However, there are many more times when our memories causes us to laugh and reflect on how special it was to have her in our lives.

Mom’s final days were nothing short of being days full of blessings. Not having to say goodbye to Mom suddenly and being able to say all you wanted or needed to say was a Blessing. We were Blessed to be there for her as we attended to her needs each day. We were blessed because we all shared the same faith, same God, and belief in the life after. Personally witnessing Mom’s Christian convictions to the very end was a Blessing to behold. For all of us to be spiritually in agreement was a Blessing. Those final days felt like one of Mom’s great Thanksgiving Dinners.  Her home cooking was always the very best. We shamelessly ate all we could and left the table full of love and food. It was always a Blessing. On August 27, she left us full of love, richer from the experience, and Blessed.

Aunt Pat and her daughter Beverly traveled from Virginia to spend time with Mom during her final days. For a week, the two sisters laughed and shared old memories as we watched and listened. They were as close as two siblings could be. They had both experienced the passing of their parents and said goodbye to eleven siblings over the years. They were the last two remaining and their many years being sisters was reflected in their love for one another. Their final days together would be far beyond description or explanation. In my eulogy during Mom’s memorial service, I attempted to capture some of the moments when Patty, Jim, Beverly and I witnessed these two sisters saying their final goodbyes. Following is an except of that eulogy:

“And then we will always remember when the two sisters spent their final evening together. We really dreaded to see this time come because we knew the final goodbyes between our mothers would be very emotional. Mom and Aunt Pat were now facing that moment. Aunt Pat leaned over closely to Mom at her bedside and informed her she would be leaving in the early morning. Mom was expecting this. She heard, understood, and acknowledged what Aunt Pat was saying. This would be their last night together. With their hands together, their faces touching, they whispered their final goodbyes to one another. They held each other close. I felt God’s arms around us and none of us would forget this moment as we witnessed two loved ones saying goodbye and leaving each other for the final time.   Aunt Pat r.1

Aunt Pat’s departure was just as spiritually moving as her arrival a few days earlier. In the face of this ending, there would never be two more classy ladies and devoted sisters. These were our mothers and we grieved deeply for both of them.”  Mom passed away four days later.

Aunt Pat sharing a quiet moment of reflection.

Following Mom’s memorial service, several family members suggested I consider writing a Blog to share news about the Copey Learning Center, an educational project in Costa Rica. Mom was fully aware of my interest in Copey and we would often talk about the project. It was amusing to her that I could go to an unfamiliar country on vacation and return home with another job to do. She heard all the news about Copey and began to feel my passion for the young children living there. Another suggestion inspired by family included setting up a scholarship fund to help the young children in Copey attend the Learning Center. As a result, today this Blog is showing great signs of success and the Anne G. Broady Scholarship Fund has paid for about 20 students to attend the Learning Center.

The “Friends of Copey” is our living tribute to Mom and her love for family and church. The initial “friends” of Copey, where mostly family and friends honoring Mom’s life. Aunt Pat, Dr. Lin Church, Carol, and Bob along with so many others have helped Patty, Jim, and me experience this year without Mom in a very positive and productive fashion with our work with the Learning Center. We now face our next year without Mom and we expect we will continue having our sad moments. The precious memories will bring us joy and we will always “remember when”.




Come On….It’s Time to Celebrate!!!!!

Well…maybe for the big time Bloggers this is no BIG deal.  But for me and for the “Friends of Copey”, it is worth celebrating. We just went over the 2,000 mark as far as visits to this Blog.  We started this Blog officially in December 2013 and to my surprise, we are still showing progress and promise.  This is proven to be an effective tool for communicating our work and progress with both you earlier followers and new followers who have taken more than a passing interest in this very unique educational project.  I say “Let’s Celebrate” and each of you even reading this Post now for the first time is contributing to the growth and progress of this Blog. As a new rookie with no experience as a Blogger, this is very challenging for me. I put myself out there each week for you to read my thoughts, experience my passions,  learn about my politics, and  judge me and the merits of our efforts to support this project.  Blogging is remarkable and to log in over 2,000 visits is worthy of some celebration.

I check on the number of visits to my Blog and the locations from where the Blog is being accessed each week.  I think most Bloggers get into the habit of tracking the visits and locations since this is almost the only means of seeing if there is any interest in what you are writing about. Most of my readers are from the USA and Canada. However, each new Post is consistently visited by readers in  countries such as Brazil, Portugal, Iceland, Spain, and Argentina. There are readers from other countries like Thailand, the Netherlands, and India but in smaller numbers.  I do not personally know anyone from these non USA countries. I think most Bloggers enjoy feedback and hearing from their readers. Communicate with me…!  It does not have to be a written comment on the Post.  An email is just as welcomed.  My readers from Brazil and other countries are extended a special invite to write. Just email me at  Most of all, I am just pleased and thankful that after almost nine months, this Blog continues to grow and many of the  original readers are hanging in there with the “Friends of Copey”.

In other good news, the Learning Center elected a new board of directors recently and the “Friends of Copey” wants to officially congratulate all the new officers and members. Congratulations to Ms. Lidiette Ulloa, the newly elected President. I will continue to work to build a positive relationship with the Board and find ways  to support and strengthen our partnership.New Board of Directors

The Board Members are young in appearance and I assume most are parents with young children attending the Learning Center. They represent their interest in their children and the interest of all the parents and children in their community. This is a very important job as they are fairly similar to the school board concept we are familiar with in the USA.  Though similar in some respects, very different in many other ways. The Learning Center is not a public school and there is no governmental obligation to fund or support its efforts.

This is a great time to remind you to look for Anne Lawrence’s book, Following My Tug…, and to check out her Blog and web site:

Anne Lawrence

You will learn much about the country of Costa Rica, the people, and what living in a small community is like through the eyes of Anne and husband Kevin, transplants from Canada.

Looking forward to sharing info about a variety of activities in the next Post as we commemorate Mom’s departure one year ago and take an in-depth look at what we have done so far and plan to do in the near future as “Friends of Copey”.



Dancing with the Stars…….!

Who Knew?  How could anyone have imagined that young girls living in rural town Copey would become local celebrities? How special is this small town where there is very little to do each day if you are a girl?  The big news is these young girls are heading to the big stage to perform in The Nutcracker scheduled to be performed later in the year.  What are the odds these young girls living in the remote part of their country far away from the more urban life style and cultural opportunities afforded to those in larger cities, having received the training and developed the skills that would result in as many as eight of the ballet students getting this unusual invite to perform?  This is absolutely Fantastic!

Now for the rest of the story.

Eve Solomon, our key contact at the Learning Center and person in charge of the daily education of the students, is a great Peace Corp Volunteer. But that is not all she is. She is a trained ballet dancer and received training at the Marin Ballet School in California for nearly 13 years. She brought her love and passion for ballet to Copey to share with some very unlikely students.

Eve’s desire for ballet has opened the doors to new experiences for the students.  In Eve’s own words, “In Copey, there are few extra-curricular activities, especially for girls, who are often expected to care for their younger siblings. Ballet builds confidence and physical awareness, and a sense of self-worth and elegance”.

This is one more example of how this small town is positively impacting young lives and one of the key reasons the “Friends of CopeEve w Ballerinasy” tries to bring together our collective talents to support this Learning Center and the community.

I want you to get to know Eve better.  She is very special herself and I strongly recommend you read her story contained in the link below. This will deepen your insight into the challenges young people face in small rural Costa Rican communities. Marin Ballet Blog.

Eve has been conducting evening ballet class each week for her students and in May, exposed her students to a live screening of the Bolshoi Ballet in San Jose, the capital of Costa Rica. The Bolshoi Ballet is an internationally renowned classical ballet company, based at the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow, Russia.  Eve’s ballet students met with the Ballet director and because of the students’ enthusiasm for ballet, they were invited to audition for the national production of The Nutcracker. Eight students were accepted to dance in the upcoming showing of The Nutcracker. All twenty-four of the Eve’s ballet students will get to participate in the intensive training and preparation for The Nutcracker.Ballet Line Up

For the next several months, the students will continue their training in Copey and will have to travel to San Jose for Saturday rehearsals. This is a costly project and Eve mounted a very successful fund drive. In a short few days she successfully raised more than $5,000 to cover training, transportation, and lodging costs needed for the weekend travels to San Jose. Her fund-raising success was helped by the Copey community and financial assistance from the Peace Corp at Eve’s request.  “Friends of Copey” was informed of the fund-raising effort while we were just wrapping up the campaign to raise money for school supplies. Consequently, we did not provide funds to directly support the ballet project. If additional funds are needed, we will try to support them.  Regardless, “Friends of Copey” is contributing indirectly as we believe about seven of the ballet students are Anne Goble Broady Scholarship Fund recipients. This shows we are all involved in the overall educational welfare of the young people of Copey and we are making a difference in a variety of ways.

Learning that in this small and remote town there is a talented ballet dancer inspiring young girls to learn ballet is astounding alone. Learning that the young students are doing so well learning ballet that an international ballet company has found them worthy to be included as part of the performers is truly extraordinary.

There is so much for the “Friends of Copey” to be pleased with and we will follow this project right up to performance night.  “Break a Leg!”






School Supplies Mission….Accomplished !

The key role of the “Friends of Copey” is to be a major source of encouragement for those in the small community of Copey, Costa Rica.  To date, this encouragement has been provided in numerous ways thru the support of a variety of people including so many of you reading this Post.

Over the past couple weeks, I reported there was a request for financial assistance to help purchase needed school supplies. Several of you replied by donating over $400.00.  We had some large donors and several small donors. The Learning Center is working on purchasing the supplies.

I extend my own personal thank you to all for reading my Posts, being connected, and responding to calls for help. Below is a special Thank You card sent to us by the staff and students from the Learning Center. This is a very special note of thanks since several of you AGB Scholarship supporters will recognize your student in the picture and perhaps even find his or her name on the card.


Also, I would like to point out a couple of things about the picture on the card.  First, the picture is taken in front of the small facility (also pictured above as our main headline photo) that is being donated to the Learning Center for its educational use.  Clearly, by USA standards and countless USA building regulations, such a facility would not be permitted for this use. In Copey, the facility is  Heaven on Earth for these students. Second point, the smiles on the faces of the students are priceless. They are happy students who enjoy attending the Learning Center, sharing time in a safe  learning environment with a loving and committed staff of volunteers, and return home to parents who care deeply about their future. I believe the expression of thanks coming from them is as real as it gets. If you are like me, you send money to many charities each year. Seldom if at all do you get a personalized note of thanks from those receiving your help.  Kids and staff, you all are “awesome”!

The Learning Center recently held elections for their Board for this coming year. We extend our congratulations and pledge our continuous support.  As we ponder the tremendous amount of global unrest and the reported devastation families and especially young kids are facing, life in Copey for young kids by comparison is a life of promise, possibility, and peace. Those young kids who are living in fear or involved in the global destruction are not learning what they should be learning.  As “Friends of Copey” we work to keep the light of promise, possibility, and peace alive, at least in one small community. My sincere thanks to all the followers and “Friends of Copey”.








Hailey…a year later!

It was a beautiful springtime morning in southeast Washington in 2013 when Heather and I met at one of the local libraries.  I had been to Copey, Costa Rica in January and had returned home committed to help the Learning Center achieve its education mission.  The Learning Center could use lots of children’s books and the local library had just announced a huge children’s book sale.  My friend Heather had begun to share my enthusiasm and passion for the Learning Center and agreed to join me at the library to help select and purchase appropriate children’s books.

Unexpectedly, Heather’s daughter, Hailey, joined us at the library. Hailey had recently graduated from Washington State University and was working as a substitute teacher in local elementary schools. However, on this day she was not called in to teach and was available to help her mother gather books. As we loaded over 70 children’s books into the trunk of my car, Hailey asked me about my plans for these children’s books. I shared the story of my visit to the Learning Center and my original plan to volunteer as a teacher. She listened intently about my final decision to help gather resources from home to help the Learning Center instead of volunteering as a teacher.  It was at that moment, standing there with my car trunk open full of children’s books heading to the Learning Center, when Hailey expressed her interest to be a volunteer teacher.

On August 1, 2013 Hailey began her journey to Costa Rica.  She completed her 90 day volunteer teaching assignment and returned home after having the experience of her life.  Hailey Blog Photo

On her one year anniversary, I asked her to share some of her thoughts about this experience. Heather says,

“It was one year ago today that I left home for beautiful Copey, Costa Rica. There I would be teaching English for three months while living with a host family. 

While living in Copey, I learned so much! Not just about a new culture and language, but also about myself. I gained so much experience and knowledge that I never would have gotten from teaching in the states. 

Teaching English in a foreign country has enriched my skills vastly. I live in an area with a huge population of ESL  (English as a Second Language) and ELL (English Language Learner) students.

Being in a foreign country where I barely spoke the language has given me a new perspective. When I plan lessons with ESL and ELL students in mind, I think about ways to teach that would have helped me while learning Spanish in Costa Rica.  Not only was teaching in Copey a unique experience, but living there also. While staying with my host family I got a feel for their culture. What a warm place to be! Everyone is so friendly, even when you are completely butchering their language! I highly recommend this experience for anyone who has the opportunity. 

Teaching in Copey has changed my life. I am a better teacher and person for having gone! I miss my students, my host family, the other volunteers, and just the beautiful scenery every day!”

Hailey’s decision to volunteer was truly an extraordinary decision which brought on significant professional and personal challenges. She survived!  The “Friends of Copey” feel very indebted to her for representing us and she was named the first “Key Friend” among the “Friends of Copey” for her significant contribution to the Learning Center. She has been hired full time and will have her own third grade class when school opens in a few weeks. Congratulations and thank you Hailey!

Read more about Hailey by clicking on Key Friends button on the Menu above.