Happy Ole Year…Happy New Year!

This has been a fantastic year! If you have been on board most of the year, you know what I am talking about. We are so proud of the staff and the students at the Learning Center. And, I am personally proud to be affiliated with each of you who consider yourselves to be “Friends”. You understand the important role we have played in 2014 as dedicated supporters of the mission at the Learning Center. Below is a mix of photos and comments for you to enjoy and reflect on as we bring this “Happy Ole Year” to an end and prepare for a “Happy New Year”.

Nutcracker 2What a terrific experience for these young people!! They obviously deserved this great experience as a result of the hard work and sacrifices they made.  For sure pass on a heartfelt congratulations!!                                                                                                                                    R.Jensen, Richland, Washington

Dr. Church, one of the strongest supporters and co-chair of the Anne G. Broady Scholarship Fund provided the heartfelt note below to the children, students, and dancers.

Dear Children of the Copey Learning Center,                                                                                                                     Pura Vida!

When I was a child I was blessed to have had Anne Broady as my “second Mother”.  We shared life together for over 70 years.  Now in a special way, Anne is now your “second Mother” too.

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I believe that she would be amazed and very pleased with what you have recently accomplished as dancers in the “Nutcracker Suite” ballet in San Jose. The pictures you shared with us tell a wonderful story of success and joy. As a “Friend of Copey” I am very proud of what you have accomplished this year!  Pura Vida indeed!  Merry Christmas!

Dr. C. Franklin Church, M.D.,Raleigh, North Carolina

“Thank You AGBSCHOLARSHIPS!”

Dear Tiny Dancers,

You have much to be proud of this Christmas!  I wish I could have seen each of you perform The Nutcracker, which is one of my very favorites.  When I was your age, I was fascinated by the Sugar Plum Fairy and the Toy Soldiers. It was magic for me, and I have no doubt that

Nutcracker 4each of you shared your “Magic” with everyone who saw you dance. You have so much to give! I hope your dreams always come true.”  J. Harter, Cincinnati, Ohio

“How Wonderful! This must have been a great experience for these young people. My hat is off to Eve and the students for what appears to have been a great performance. CONGRATULATIONS!!”   C. Clark, Washington, DC

“Congratulations on your Nutcracker performance! What a thrill it must have been! Traveling back and forth to San Jose gave you a wonderful opportunity to perform on stage. Continue with that same practice and dedication in your school work and who knows what your next opportunity may be. Thanks also to all of Eve’s hard work!” C. Barnard, Richland, Washington

The recent graduation at the Learning Center, along with The Nutcracker performance, provided a happy ending to a very successful school year. Students received attendance awards along with their certificates. Eve and the teaching staff were recognized for their outstanding work. One of our college professors who follows and supports the “Friends of Copey” recently provided these comments:

To the graduates –

Grad y awards

You should be very proud. Your hard work is what got you here. And hard work will get you where you need to be!  Stay close to those who have loved you along this path, and remember that in loving them, you find your true happiness! Again, congratulations!!!

E. Davis, Emory & Henry College,  Emory, Virginia

We are very proud of Kevin Espinoza who received the 1st prize for best attendance.

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Kevin is being hugged by the Learning Center’s founder, Seidy Rodriguez, for his achievement. PS. Kevin is sponsored by the AGB Scholarship Fund.

Two high school students who attended the Learning Center read a children’s story they wrote in their high school class.

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The school year has been a year to remember. There are just too many “Friends” to thank individually for being supportive in so many ways. Those of you who have supported the AGB Scholarship Fund made it possible for several students to attend the Learning Center. Others contributed to special requests for school supplies. The Pen Pal Program has been a huge success. The Blog has been visited by the world and the town of Copey is on the minds and hearts of many. All this has been made possible because of prayer, positive thoughts, and financial support by followers who believe this project is worthy.

Sanford Tollette, a Kiwanis member, was featured recently in a Kiwanis publication. He is Executive Director of the Joseph Pfeifer Kiwanis Camp near Little Rock, Arkansas.

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He has been changing the lives of at-risk kids there for 39 years and is quoted as saying, “if you want to make a difference? Help a kid! If you want to make a difference? Serve!  On this note, “Friends of Copey” thank you for making a difference. Happy New Year!

Thank you Eve!

Happy Birthday Carol…!

O Holy Night….!

“The thrill of hope the weary world rejoices” is one of my most favorite lines in the very popular Christmas carol, O Holy Night!  Christmas Tree 1

I am drawn to these words because it seems to have a timeless message. O Holy Night was originally composed as a poem by Placide Cappeau de Roquemaure of France in 1847 and the music was added later by Adolphe Charles Adams. When the poet wrote this poem, France was at the door step of the French Revolution. The world seemed to be a weary place full of chaos and life’s uncertainties could be found on all levels of human existence. Regardless, the poet still wrote of “the thrill of hope” and optimism because of that O Holy Night…when Christ was born almost 2,000 years earlier!  Next, the poet tells us that “For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn”.  The sun will shine on us and it will be a new day full of hope, joy, and opportunities…!

If there was a Christmas national anthem, O Holy Night would be it for me.

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For more than twenty years, I have written in all of my Christmas cards the words, “Don’t Miss the Joy!”  Many years ago, when my personal life did not seem to be going great and getting into the Christmas spirit did not seem possible, I started making it a commitment to send out Christmas cards and writing in them my “Don’t Miss the Joy!” message. This was to remind others, but especially to remind me, to remember the real reason for the season. There are those who expect a card and my personal note to show up each Christmas now and most of them are not disappointed.

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“Friends of Copey” I am truly blessed and the thrill of hope runs rampant within me as I look back at what we have done and ahead and see what we could do. Let go and experience the joy of Christmas. Know you have been part of that “Peace on Earth and Goodwill Towards Men (and others)” you hear about. You have been an active partner in the “thrill of hope” in a weary world. A small part of the world is rejoicing today because of you.

Thank you for Christmas 2making a difference. This Post is my Christmas card to each of you and

“Don’t Miss the Joy!”

 

The Season for Joy…..

The Holiday Season is certainly into full swing now and it is my most sincere hope that all “Friends of Copey” are or will soon be experiencing the “joy” of the season. Be careful and don’t miss it!

Anyone who has not seen the last Post titled “Break a Leg!” must visit and read the wonderful story about our ballerinas performing in The Nutcracker and see some great photos such as below of some of the ballerinas from Copey.

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Please take a quick minute to send me a congratulatory note I can send to the Learning Center, the ballerinas, and Eve for being prepared to do the unimaginable…performing on the big stage in The Nutcracker production. Several of you have sent notes and I thank you…but the more the merrier. Let’s give them a big “high-five” for a job well done from the “Friends of Copey”. Don’t be left out. These notes will be included in an upcoming Post.

The Learning Center is now closed and the students are on their summer break. While I am still waiting for some information pertaining to the final school days at the Learning Center and graduation, this is a good time to reflect on this amazing year that is now behind us. Actually, I think this whole experience is “beyond amazing”.  Here are a few reasons why I think this which may not be as obvious as ballerinas, scholarships, and pen pals.

This Blog was set up in early December and the first official Post was issued on December 12, 2013. I had no prior experience with Blogs and this journey truly began on mostly faith and hope. The Blog’s purpose was to share information and support the mission of the Learning Center…to help kids. The Blog also launched the Anne G. Broady Scholarship Fund.  Today, December 17, 2014 hopefully we can all agree both the Blog and the Scholarship Fund have survived and achieved its purpose of sharing information. This is Post 52 for the year it has been challenging to issue each Post, but it gets done. These scholarships have helped about 20 students attend the Learning Center. These achievements along with several others including the Pen Pal Program are all really great milestones for our first year and you, your support, thoughts and prayers, and money, made this possible.

Also, just a couple of days ago the Blog hit another noteworthy milestone by reaching the 3,000 mark for visits to the “Friends of Copey” Blog site. We started out on this journey with only about 15 “friends”. Today, there are about 150 known “friends” on paper following this Blog. Realistically, about half this number appears to follow this Blog regularly. It is common for followers of Blogs to lose interest after a while and move on to other interests which may be Blogs or other forms of social media. While some leave, other followers show up as they learn about “Friends of Copey”. Those followers who stick with the Blog week after week provide the core and sustainability needed to continue. Thank you.

To reach the milestone of 3,000 visits in the first year with a small core group of followers means there are many unidentified followers visiting the Blog each week who are not part of the core group or those on the mailing list. If these unidentified followers continue to visit the Blog at the current pace, we can expect to hit the 6,500 mark this time next year. I said this is “beyond amazing”.

There is more good news! We continue to see the Blog’s popularity grow in Brazil. Six months ago visits to the Blog site from Brazil accounted for only about 10% of the total visits for that month. Four months ago the percentage of visits from Brazil increased to 17%. Over the past thirty days, the percentage has jumped to 34%. These are unusually high numbers for not having anyone registered or on my mailing list from Brazil. I am not complaining at all and  I am extremely happy to have these followers interested in our work. I thank each of them for being there and hopefully I can hear from some Brazilian followers directly by email. Please send me a note at atbroady@aol.com

The Blog is also getting visits from Canada, Italy, Columbia, and Argentina with fair regularity. In fact, there are visits from all over the world and each continent has been represented. Of course, the United States is first, Costa Rica is second, and Brazil third in the highest number of visits for the full year. Remember, the first Post was sent to 15 friends when the Blog “Friends of Copey” rolled out last December. We are now global and have managed to introduce Copey, a small town of 500 citizens and a little Learning Center of about 45 students, to others around the world.  “Beyond Amazing!”

Break a Leg…!

Of course “Break a Leg!” is a term that has long been used in the theater world. It seems very inappropriate if taken literally. For our use today, the term is full of feelings of endearment and best wishes for those talented ballerinas from Copey who performed in The Nutcracker over the weekend…without any broken limbs.

I am so happy this opportunity came along for these young ballerinas, for their talented instructor, Eve Solomon, and for the community. This helps prove that good things can happen when you share the gifts you have been blessed with. Eve and I can attest that when you have a vision and you act on it with faith, it becomes an amazing journey for everyone involved.

Probably none of the ballerinas spent their first day of ballet practice imagining they would be performing on the “big stage” in front of a thousand people in such a short time. The community center where they practiced perhaps was not the best equipped or most suitable facility to train aspiring young ballerinas. Other items including shoes and clothing unique to ballet may not have been comparable to those seen typically in local ballet studios. Regardless, none of these less than perfect conditions out weighed the dedication and commitment both the instructor and her students demonstrated.  The following is a short report from Eve: ”

“This past weekend eight of my students achieved their dream of dancing in the national production of The Nutcracker here in Costa Rica. These young girls showed their community that through hard work and a little bit of faith, the seemingly impossible can become a reality.

Nutcracker 1After months waking up as early as 3:00 a.m. to attend rehearsals in San José, they had their on-stage debut on Saturday, December 6th and danced again on Sunday, December 7th in front of a packed house of one thousand people, including more than sixty community members who came from Copey to see them perform. These students learned that through perseverance and dedication, they can achieve their dreams, a lesson that will hopefully stay with them in their future endeavors”.               by Eve Solomon

Several of the ballerinas are on the front line above and in the foreground in the photos below.  They are beautiful and simply angelic in their costumes.

Nutcracker 3One can only imagine what they were feeling as they moved about the stage in unison with the music and the stage set participating with other ballerinas. And one can only imagine the pride and joy their families and others felt who attended from Copey watching their daughters on the stage of the National Theater performing ballet. In my view, the community may have enjoyed the unique role of representing all the small and rural communities in Costa Rica.

Trust me, there is something very special about this small town and we are part of that something special.

As Eve points out, this effort took a great deal of hard physical work, dedication, and sacrifices to position them in the right place at the right time when the opportunity to perform in The Nutcracker came knocking.  Thank you ballerinas, Eve, and Marcela (pictured below) for bringing us all closer to Copey and the Learning Center.

Nutcracker 2In closing, we know that when opportunity is knocking on your door, you must be prepared to answer it. It was about this time a year ago when the opportunity could be heard knocking for the “Friends of Copey”. We are very happy to have been in the right place at the right time…for all of us.

      “Break a Leg!”

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bring Down the Curtains….

This is a wonderful time of the year as we are now finished with the last of the turkey dinner and now getting ready for the next big events…Christmas and New Year. There are other events we want to celebrate but we have to wait a few days until we get the info from Copey.

First, earlier last week the school year ended with much fanfare and fireworks.

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I am waiting for pictures of the school closing and will share with you as soon as I receive them. Many of the students finishing up the school year were recipients of the Anne G. Broady Scholarships. We are very proud of them for getting through the school year successfully.

Then, the week ended with the Learning Center’s ballerina students participating in The Nutcracker at the National Theater in San Jose, Costa Rica.  Ballet_Audition 1

As of this Post, I do not have much on the performance to report but will share news and any photos in a second Post this week as soon as I have something.

Although we are bringing the curtains down on a very successful and exciting school year in Copey and the Learning Center, serious work will continue for the “Friends of Copey”. We have several inquiries to respond to from different groups expressing interests in Pen Pal programs.

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In a couple of weeks, we will initiate our 2nd Anne G. Broady Scholarship Fund Drive. There is one and possibly two developing opportunities to set up a pathway for graduating students in Copey to attend a US college, plus more educational activities in the works. Finally, we plan to assist the Learning Center in raising some of the funds needed to hire a staff member to head up the Learning Center in 2015.

In short, the Learning Center’s summer break is for the students to enjoy while the “Friends of Copey” will stay very busy finding ways to support the Center’s mission.