Today…choose to live life!

The first responsibility of a leader is to define reality. The last is to say thank you. In between, the leader is a servant.  – Max de Pree

We are trying now to get our focus back on the Learning Center as we continue to enjoy the successful experiences our Copey guests had in the United States. I invite all “Friends” to visit the Copey Learning Center Facebook link to see all of the photos of the students during their travels.

At the Learning Center, we are now officially under the leadership of a new Executive Director, Ana Yancy Chinchilla. She has replaced Angela and has taken over the

Ana Yancy (2)

Ana and Abigail

responsibility of the Center’s day to day operations. By now, Angela is hard at work at a university in China teaching for a month. We wish her well and look forward to her safe return to Copey.

Ana has a Degree in Special Education and has worked as a teacher and administrator in English as a Second Language and Early Childhood Education for more than 10 years in nearby Santa Maria de Dota. Other points of interest include the fact Ana is a native of Costa Rica but has spent almost three years living in New Jersey. She is the proud mother of a five year old daughter, Abigail.

As many of you recall, annually we track the Learning Center’s performance during the yearly “Spelling Bee” contest. Last week’s results, during the first round called the Institutional Round,

Spelling bee winners

Past Winners!

the Learning Center won the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place spots for 5th/6th graders and won the top spot for the “Impromptu Speech”.  Next level of competition is called the “Circuit Level” and we await the results and will report them.

We congratulate our students on their success since it is one of several measurements used to determine the Learning Center’s progress. Did I mention that the “Spelling Bee” is students having to spell English words correctly?

Hopefully, we will get more current photos of this year’s winners and will keep track as we march towards the Regional and National championship rounds.

Now, to catch up on some trivia. About mid-June, this blog went past the 8,000 mark for visits.

Celebration balloons.

You and I can be very proud of this yet another milestone as it indicates we are keeping pace with past 1,000 blog site visit milestones. The 7,000 milestone was reached in March. During the recent past, we have had visits from South Africa, Australia, Netherlands, Israel, Burma, Indonesia, Germany, and Romania to mention only a few of the more uncommon visits. “Friends of Copey” is seen worldwide!

I remind “Friends” how peculiar Blogging is. All Bloggers gain and lose followers over time because it is human nature for us to want to move on to something else ofzzzKiwanis

interest…especially with this type of Blog. While some “Friends” move on, new “Friends” join in and the data shows that we have kept pace since the first year of this Blog. I regard all visits to this Blog very important whether it is a devoted and frequent follower or someone checking us out for the first time. We never know when that first time visitor will be someone who becomes a dedicated follower and “Friend”, or someone who becomes inspired to support us in the short-term, or someone who will be inspired to go out and “make a difference” for their own cause.  Much of our success is credited to our relationship with Kiwanis…a very worthy partner who is helping serve children not just in our neighborhoods, but in the world.

Finally, we are running ahead of the number of Blog visits this year compared to the past two years. We have a great chance to achieve our 2016 goal of a 10% increase in visits. Each “Friend” is needed to help achieve this goal by simply clicking on the weekly Posts to read the weekly news.  THANK YOU!





With “U” I Can Spell Success!

The price of success is hard work, dedication to the job at hand, and the determination that whether we win or lose, we have applied the best of ourselves to the task at hand.

by Vince Lombardi

Last week, I issued my Post from Kingsport, Tennessee and today I am happy to be back home. I am also happy to report that Angela, Noelia, and Celeste are all safely back home in Copey as well. They ended their 15 day trip by arriving home on Saturday night.

Today I am featuring some of the memorable times Angela, White HouseNoelia, and Celeste spent upon arriving at Dulles International Airport on June 4th. Their first day was spent seeing many of the sites in our nation’s capital. While traveling to southwest Virginia, they visited the Natural Bridge and the Caverns. As they arrived on the campus of Emory & Henry College, they were greeted with open arms and shown the true meaning of “southern hospitality”Capitol

There were both old “Friends” and now new “Friends” involved in making these past two weeks and the five earlier weeks with Casey and

The GroupXavier, a reality and unforgettable experiences for all of us.

There were “Friends” who helped underwrite the travel costs. Other “Friends” who arranged for and provided food and lodging. There were “Friends” who took our guests on hikes and trails and provided unbelievable views of the region. There were bicycle rides, bowling, and many more recreational activities provided.

Then, Celeste and Noelia performed their cultural dance for three different audiences. One performance was at my high school reunion. They were so impressive that the Class Reunion Committee is planning to provide some financial support to the Learning Center. All three made new “Friends” while participating in the Young Scholar’s educational portion of their trip. Yes, “Friends” were found almost everywhere you looked.

LIncoln Monument (2)       Natural Bridge

Angela was a “guest professor” and shared information about Costa Rica, language and customs. Angela Professor

The “Thank You” notes I received from Celeste and Noelia were very positive and included some of the following: Celeste wrote: “I will never forget my experience in this country…my favorite part was my visit to the Lincoln Monument but I really enjoyed my stay in this beautiful town (Emory) and getting to know this amazing (host) family and many other people.”

Noelia also shared her thoughts in these words: Words can’t expressed how grateful I am for this opportunity. It has been an incredible and amazing adventure. I really love this town and all the people in it.”Bike Ride  Nothing could have been better than their time spent in America.

Here are just a few of my thoughts. I absolutely enjoyed being with Angela, Celeste, and Noelia. They were excellent representatives of both Copey and their country. They experiened first hand our “Friends of Copey” motto; “When many will do just a little…much will get done for kids”  and saw closeup the energy of the “Friends of Copey”.

I have those very special people around me who provide encouragement, support, great advice and guidance, and inspiration to go beyond just imagining and dreaming about doing something. Carol knows me well and knows my heart when it comes to this “Friends of Copey” project. She is often the reason much of the really detailed things get done. Pat and Jim along with many others I consider affectionately as “Friends” also help make this project all it is today and all it will become tomorrow! I regret the fact that so many of you supporters (Friends) did not meet Angela, Noelia, and Celeste during their stay. If you had you would better understand how significant you are and how much you have impacted so many lives and believe it…you have. You would see what the “Friends” in southwest Virginia all witnessed over the past two weeks…something very special.
The Three GuestsThis USA trip ends an important and “SUCCESSFUL” chapter in the ongoing support for the Learning Center. “Friends” did what we set out to do and we can rightfully bask in the warm sun of our success. But also, Angela now leaves for China and will spend a short time there as another “guest professor”. We wish her well and pray for her safe travel there and back. The new Executive Director, Ana Yancy Chinchilla, will now take hold of the controls and help move us to even higher levels of support and “SUCCESS!” 

All is Deeply Appreciated…!

Appreciation is the highest form of prayer, for it acknowledges the presence of good wherever you shine the light of your thankful thoughts.      by  Alan Cohen 

Last week’s Post came from Washington, D.C. and today I am writing from Kingsport, Tennessee. EH college.png

The past several days have been very exciting and inspiring in many different ways. I have had the true pleasure of spending much of the past three days with Angela, Noelia, and Celeste at and around Emory & Henry College.

lunch w President

Dr. Gaia, Dr. Ramirez-Trujillo, George Whitley, Joseph Taylor, and President Schrum joined Celeste, Noelia, and Angela for lunch

We all have done some very fun things including lunch with Jake Schrum, President of Emory & Henry College. Angela, Noelia and Celeste traveled with me to my 50th High School Reunion activities, met many of my classmates and were greeted by the mayor of my hometown…Marion, Virginia. We also attended a concert and a potluck. There is more…they were treated to hiking trips, went bowling, and were taken on a bicycle tour.

The Robin Grossman host family, Dr. Gaia, Dr. Davis, and so many others went the extra mile to make this a very special and memorable trip for all three of our guests. Never have I been more proud to be associated with this project, my friends, and our guests. So much has been brought to us on this trip as our guests have been wonderful “ambassadors” representing their community, the Learning Center, their fellow students, and even “Friends of Copey”.

Noelia and Celeste were huge hits at my class reunion events. This was the first time many in southwest Virginia had seen or met someone from Costa Rica and they fully enjoyed this rare opportunity to meet and enjoy

Dancing at reunion

Noelia and Celeste Perform

the Costa Rican dance performed by Noelia and Celeste.

With a different group they were treated to a potluck attended by mostly college personnel.

Both groups watched with interest and admiration as the two skillfully performed. There were many among both audiences wanting to know more about them and their community.  I will send you an excerpt of their performance in next week’s Post.

Starting this morning, Noelia and Celeste are beginning their “Summer Scholars Institute and Leadership Program” on campus. They are joining other students for this week-long program of learning.  Angela, as a “guest professor”, will be busy teaching students about Costa Rica and its culture. This week promises to be as exciting as last week but more academic in nature.

I wish to close this Post by commenting on Angela. She is very special and has done a remarkable job as Director of the Learning Center. Her leadership and devotion to the Learning Center in part is what produced the quality of students we have seen with Noelia and Celeste. We have learned to appreciate their efforts to master English. We have also had the amazing opportunity to get to know Angela. In a large way, the students represent the results of Angela’s efforts and dedication to the Copey community. It also demonstrates the enormous trust and confidence the community has placed in Angela. Sending young ladies off to America is not common at all in Copey and it demonstrates the level of interest the community has in the futures of their children.

Here are a few of the comments written to me in a “Thank You” note from Angela:Angela Bike

“You know there are no words to describe what this kind of experience can mean to someone. I can’t imagine a greater gift than this for a teacher. It has been so special (so far) living through this experience with my students, seeing the excitement on their faces when they found out they had been chosen, when we got on the plane, seeing the Smithsonian collections, getting to know this part of the country and its people. So many blessings.”  Angela

The “Friends of Copey” all thank you Angela. The Learning Center, personnel, community, and especially the students have given meaning and purpose for this great partnership.  God Speed!


Excercise by Lifting Someone Up…!

“The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson

This Post comes to you from hot and balmy Washington, D.C. where I have been located for a few days. As announced in my last Post, my cousin William Martin (Marty) Clark diedMarty

suddenly on Memorial Day. He is survived by his wife, two daughters, a sister, and his dear mother. All are wonderful and loving people who shared their lives with Marty each day and witnessed Marty’s love for family, his extensive community service, and Christian faith. The “wake” and the funeral service accounted for several hundreds of guests who paid their respects, shared their “Marty” stories, and offered comfort and support to the family. Marty was praised for his very strong family values, being a leader and an “exceptional force” as a strong advocate for kids with “special needs”. His faith as a Christian was evident in all aspects of his life and community service. Being here with family during this time has been a true blessing and honor for me.  Marty…thanks for making a difference!EH Travel students

Angela, Noelia, and Celeste arrived in Washington, D.C. on Saturday and by all accounts, have had a really great time touring D.C. and experiencing life in our country’s Capital. This is was a tremendous start for the two students who are seeing our country for the first time. Yesterday, they traveled to the E&H College campus (about 6 hours away) to meet up with their host family and other college representatives.

Unfortunately, our schedules did not allow us to meet here in D.C. during their time here. I leave D.C. tomorrow and will catch up with them later in the week when I travel to the college. Next week’s Post will provide a lot of information about Noelia and Celeste’s great US adventure.

Casey and Xavier made it back home safely and I want to share some of Casey’s thoughts about her trip. You can read it all for yourself by clicking on Casey’s link:

Casey and Xavier

It is totally heartwarming to read Casey’s compliment to Angela; “Angela is an amazing woman who will continue to do great things…”.  Then she spoke about her host family; “There are no words to describe the love  and joy for my host family after spending a mere month with them”.  Finally, Casey writes about the volunteer teachers and what they meant to her future. She says, “Markki and Marguerite are fantastic role models of whom I’d like to be after I’m finished with school–going wherever life takes me with open arms and knowledge to share. I owe them all that I know about teaching and more.”

Then, there are the students and photos say it all…! Spending time teaching students and expressing the importance of education provides for all the students an encouraging message. These students can believe they are important when they meet those who will travel to Copey to teach and inspire them to learn.Xavier and student boy

There is simply no price you can put on this obviously rich experience. Who thought this could be possible in a small remote community with not much to offer? Who thought two college and sophisticated students would leave Copey feeling they learned so much? Casey and student girls

Well, I certainly thought all along it was indeed possible and it really only took about 15 minutes during my first visit to Copey to figure this out.  I continue to believe there is something very unusual about Copey, its people, and its vision. I now have the proof with Casey and Xavier. They witnessed firsthand and can verify how warm and receptive the community is to all who come to work and visit. And, they have witnessed the leadership and commitment to making a better life for kids in a community that is trying to make it happen. We, the “Friends of Copey” are absolutely proud of Casey and Xavier. They are collegiate pioneers who have taken on a huge challenge and came home victorious.

May God continue to bless the entire “Friends of Copey” venture.






Gratitude in Abundance…!

“Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it.”
William Arthur Ward

This is an unusual time as we witness many personnel changes taking place at the Learning Center.

First, Angela is completing her final week as Executive Director of the Learning Center. She is leaving Copey on Saturday with our two Learning Center students heading to America. After their two week visit in our country, Angela and the students will return to Copey. Then, Angela boards another airplane to travel to China to fulfill a special teaching assignment.

Ana Yancy Chinchilla replaces Angela as the new Executive Director and is ready to take over the leadership and administrative responsibilities associated with the day to day operation of the Learning Center. I had the pleasure of speaking with Ana last week and I am most impressed with her strong

New Director Ana Yancy Chinchilla

interest in the work of the Learning Center and her academic and professional credentials. We, the “Friends of Copey” will continue our commitment to support the Learning Center and pledge to do what we can to help the Learning Center’s growth and success.

Goodbye to Marguerite Markki.jpg

Angela with Marguerite and Markki

Additional changes include volunteer replacements for both volunteer teachers, Marguerite and Markki. Both have been at the Learning Center for about one year. Their replacements are Joe and

Suzuki and Solana

Joe and Solana

Solana. Joe is a Peace Corps volunteer from Las Vegas, doing economic development work and volunteering as a teacher.   Solana is from Kelowna, Canada and has studied in Ecuador and at the University of Melbourne in Australia. Both are joining Ana as the new education team taking over the leadership and educational challenges/responsibilities at the Learning Center.

Finally, our two E&H college student teacher volunteers Casey and Xavier, will complete their service and depart Costa Rica on Saturday. Fortunately, all five of the travelers are booked on the same flight back to the US.

I will meet Angela and the Learning Center students at E&H College on June 10th to welcome them to our campus. I look forward to finally meeting Angela and will be thrilled to see both of the students.

The “pathways”set up to allow both Casey and Xavier to travel to Copey, Costa Rica and allow Angela and our two guest students to travel to America are a result of caring and Casey and Xavier

committed people who could see the value of having E&H college students spending time in Copey and have Copey students seeing America and visiting a beautiful college campus. Dr. Gaia at E&H College headed up the team of campus supporters while Angela worked with both the Learning Center and the community to gain support. Our four students; Casey, Xavier, Celeste, and Noelia all had to compete with others to get selected to participate in this very rare opportunity. I can not begin to thank everyone, including the “special E&H donors” who provided much of the financial resources needed to get the Copey guests to America.

I never have a problem explaining to others just how “Friends of Copey” actually works. It is very simple and very easy to see. “Friends” are just everyday people who spiritually, or physically, or financially demonstrate a desire to help others willing to help themselves. The development and implementation of these “pathways” is a very clear example of “Friends” in action.  The best gift I can offer to show the gratitude I feel is to say…THANKS!

Sad News!

Just as I sent out my Memorial Post in honor of Memorial Day, I received a call informing me that a dear cousin had suddenly passed away. The news was shocking and our family is grieving today. Marty Clark resided in Washington, DC and was deeply involved in planning his mother’s 90th birthday celebration scheduled for July 2. I was looking forward to seeing him and sharing in the celebration which now appears to be cancelled. I was in communications with him last Friday and his last comment to me read:

 “Tell all on your end we send our love and look forward to seeing you soon!”