“Sometimes when I believe I am in need of a helping hand, I first need to look for the hand at the end of my arm.” Unknown
What is it about the small community of Copey, Costa Rica and the Learning Center that moved me to get involved in the first place I was recently asked? I have covered this question several times in the past. Yet, the question does come up again, especially among new “Friends”. It is a great question and the short answer is very simple. I got involved because it seemed to be the right thing to do.
However, my answer is simply the tip of the iceberg. The explanation supporting this answer provides some very interesting points many of you should easily relate to.
The explanation is helped by hearing this short story. Back in the early 90’s, I was the employment manager for a subsidiary of Westinghouse. We were a large employer with nearly 7,000 employees populating the Hanford Site located near Richland, Washington. The company wanted to feature me in our company’s newsletter and I was interviewed by a reporter. The article was finally published and under my photo was a caption that read……”Whatever I do…I want to make a difference”. I asked the reporter if I had actually stated these words during our interview since I did not recall. I was told I did in so many words. The caption became the essence of the story for the newsletter.
Since then, that caption…wanting to make a difference! became a conscious driving force for much of my work. Fortunately, I have met many people who just wanted to do the same thing. Thank God many of them have found their opportunity with the “Friends of Copey”.
For you newcomers, the story of “Friends of Copey” started during my first trip to Costa Rica on a fishing trip. It was then I learned the country was desperately seeking English teachers to meet their country’s need for an English-speaking citizenry. The country’s economic future depends on this according to those Costa Ricans I had the opportunity to meet. Also, the young Costa Ricans, especially in rural areas, would experience very limited and too often unpleasant futures without being competent in reading, writing, and speaking English. Therefore, the country has put a very high priority on teaching English.
Following my return from the fishing trip, I answered several Costa Rican ads for volunteer English teachers. I received a few favorable responses and decided to visit one location a year later during my second trip to the country. I traveled to the small community of Copey to be interviewed by the Learning Center’s founder and a volunteer, Seidy and Anne. Their mission was made very clear.
It was evident Seidy, Anne, and the community felt they could make a difference in the lives of their young people in their community. Without the availability of adequate educational resources, government assistance, or any other visual signs of help, the Learning Center was operating and managing to do with what they had. On the spot, I informed Seidy and Anne that I wanted to help them. I was certainly impressed with their willingness to apply self help or using their own hands to do the job. I saw quickly the opportunity to extend my hand and try to help make a difference.
Have not most of us benefitted from someone else’s time, talent, and maybe even money? Have we not benefitted because someone came along and made a difference? There are many such people who have provided such help to me and I wanted to be a part of this mission to change things for the better.
The “Friends of Copey” project is no more complicated than this. It provides a simple and easy way to help make a difference in a community that is trying to help itself! “Friends” offers an extra set of hands to help make a difference.
Are there more critical needs in this world to be concerned about? Certainly! Are their perhaps greater local, national or even international causes that could use more support? Without a doubt! I am very familiar with many of these needs as you are.
Most have teams of supporters, corporations, foundations, institutions, and others who provide ongoing support. Some even have paid staff to solicit the support needed. We can all relate to this as it has become part of our daily experience getting phone calls, receiving mailings, seeing television ads and even being members of service clubs.
My Kiwanis Club is an International Service Club and it’s motto is “Serving The Children of The World One Community at a Time”. And, as a partner with “Friends of Copey” working with Kiwanis, children are being served.
“Friends of Copey” is very different! Essentially, we are a collection of interested followers with a strong belief in the mission of the Learning Center without membership fees, by-laws, government rules/regulations and the rest. We have just the desire to make a difference as a result of our involvement through prayer, positive thoughts, volunteerism, and even financial assistance at times.
In Copey, we are viewed as a “big rock” frequently landing in a small pond. Much unlike many other greater areas of need where we would be a little rock landing on a huge lake. The ripple effect caused by our involvement and support is significantly different.
I urge you to enjoy the experience of being a “Friend of Copey”. It provides us all the opportunity to give back a little, to honor those who have made a difference in our lives, and set the example for serving others by first using the hands God blessed us with…located at the ends of our arms.
Jeff Gordon is still one of the remaining eligible drivers competing for the Championship. He needs to make it to the final 8 drivers to continue his final year of driving. Go #24!