Can You Believe…?

“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”
― Thomas A. Edison

Happy Belated Thanksgiving to all “Friends”. I am back from Las Vegas where I had the pleasure of sharing turkey, my favorite potato salad, and corn pudding with my family. I hope we can all be thankful for what we are blessed with.hurricane-otto-1

The Copey community can be thankful for dodging most of the recent hurricane activity that hit the country last week. As I have heard, Hurricane Otto had minimum impact on the central part of the country where Copey is located. This was not the case northeast near the southern border of Nicaragua. There are reported 10 deaths and as many as 5,500 citizens had to be evacuated as the hurricane passed through that area on Thursday and Friday. The latest report I have shows 5 fatalities in Nicaragua. I have been to the coast on the eastern side of Costa Rica. A tropical storm or hurricane can do a lot of damage to the weak structures I saw and the exposure and lack of safe shelters from harsh winds and rains.

As previously reported, the Learning Center is now closed for the summer. These are a couple of graduation pictures from the Learning Center. Keep in mind, graduation pertains to the successful completion of a designed English curriculum.graduation-class-1The students and the members of the Copey Learning Center Board of Directors concluded the year believing this has been a very successful year.  Some “Friends” have said:

“Congratulations to the students at Copey Learning Center for their graduation and especially to Mariana for her success in reaching the finals of the National Spelling Bee. I enjoy reading the updates and about the accomplishments of the students and the smiles in the students’ faces tell the real story of happiness in the process of learning.”  Kay F.
“Congratulations to you, Mariana and all of the other stars.”  Christine C.
“Congratulations to Mariana! I am so happy to read this news. I will be thinking of her and all our friends.”  Lisa B.

These are budding stars who are making progress in learning English. We hope to see many of them competing in the National Language Festival next year and some day see them on the campus of Emory & Henry College.

In the upcoming Posts, I will highlight many of the accomplishments and achievements “Friends of Copey” contributed to in 2016. In the next couple weeks we will also outline our “2017 Goals” which is expected to be even more exciting than 2016. We now have two full years of experience and we have a much better idea of what we can do and do it well. Just as 2016 out did 2015, we have a lot of great expectations ahead of us. Recall, we still have some BIG news still pending for 2017.


National English Festival

“The National English Festival, (as we call it…The Spelling Bee Contest) in Costa Rica aims to promote student participation, social interaction, leadership, recreation, self-discipline and confidence while strengthening the youth’s identity and sense of self.      

Also, the Festival is a space where students can demonstrate their strides with the English language as they work to become fluid speakers of the foreign language. ”  ~Mission Statement

This week has been a historical week because we believe that 11-year-old Mariana is our first Anne G. Broady Scholarship Fund student (3 years) to have made it to the National championship level of the English Festival.


Mariana is Regional Level Winner

Unfortunately, Mariana did not achieve the National Championship title this year. However, we are still extremely proud of her and praise her for taking on the challenge and successfully reaching the top-level where the best of the country competed. She is a tremendous competitor and we are so very proud of her. Her future is very bright.

Mariana is an inspirational role model for other students to follow. We encourage the Learning Center to gear up and help prepare Mariana and others for next year’s National Language Festival. “Friends of Copey” envisions two plus students reaching the National level next year.

Before Mariana left Copey to attend the National event, I received a short note from her. She wrote:

” I’m very grateful for your  economic and emotional support  because this experience is very beautiful, special and unique. This competition shows me that CLC has a big impact in my life because here I learn a second language,  that gives me important opportunities. My experience in this competition is very important for me because I love English”.

Her note to me (and us “Friends”) is most heartwarming and confirms the work we do, financial and non-financial, is impacting lives in very positive ways.

Today I received a note from Seidy, the Founder of the Learning Center. Seidy sent these thoughts to us:

Last Saturday was the Copey Learning Center’s graduation and it was amazing, the best I have seen since we started with this school.  Thank you Arthur so much and thanks to Friends of Copey because you both are definitely our support during this time. You are an important part of the success of the center.”

Within the next few weeks, I will issue an official letter to the Copey Learning Center. The letter will be a formal confirmation to the center, the Board, the students, and the community that “Friends of Copey” will continue believing in their mission and will set new goals for 2017 designed to contribute positive support for their efforts to improve the lives of their children.

“Congratulations to the Learning Center for an outstanding year, successful students, and believing this year has been their best year yet.”


The Dawns Early Light…!

“O say, does that star-spangled banner yet wave?”

First, thank you for showing such a strong interest in Mariana and her quest to be the National Spelling Bee Champion in Costa Rica this week. A special Post edition will go out to all “Friends” as soon as we get the results on Thursday or Friday this week.

I failed to mention in Monday’s Post several other items I think newsworthy.

Last Friday, we celebrated Veterans Day and I never want to overlook this very importantveteran-days recognition. In my Posts in 2014 and 2015 I shared some of my thoughts about Veterans Day and called attention to many of my friends whom I proudly salute for their military service.  Thank you Lou, Gene, Jim, Charles, Carlos, Dwight, Stevie, Fred, Adam and all other veterans for your service to our country.

Then, during the Viet Nam Conflict,

Curtis Montgomery

Veteran Curtis “Duck” Montgomery

Danny Watkins, Michael Charles, Kenneth Delaney, and Frank Campbell died while serving their country and are remembered for their friendship and service. All were high school friends and classmates who served while I was safe at college. Following college, I entered the service and as a fellow veteran, I stand proudly and salute them all.

The greatest veteran I know, Curtis “Duck” Montgomery, whom I have shared stories about several times, gets my biggest salute. “Duck” has passed the 100-year-old mark and continues to do well.

As we are now about 45 days from the end of this 2017 calendar year, we have hit another milestone for this Blog.

Drum roll please! Our three-year total visits to the Blog is now 9,148 marching on towards 10,000. We are currently on track to match our 2015 total of 3,207 and now sit at 2,740. Please continue to visit the Blog and read the Posts each week and by all means, share this with a friend or family member. Why keep this project and your involvement a secret?

Finally, I am excited to have a bound copy of all of my Posts dating back to 2013.booklets My friend Bev has worked hard to extract every Post I have written, totaling almost 160 to date from the “Friends of Copey” Blog and placed each in a binder.

NOW, I have a complete binder for 2013-2014, 2015, and soon to be completed 2016. This is a significant body of work and it is far from over. During my presentations, I can easily share the binders with the group to see all that has been going on. I do not always have the convenience of a computer set up to show my Blog.

Also, I  confess it feels good to know I have a back up version in hard copy in the event there is a computer failure or some other technical problem resulting in the ultimate loss of some or all of this documentation representing the “Friends of Copey” history and record. And yes. I sleep a little easier at night now.

I Am Proud Of Copey

“The pessimist sees difficulty in every opportunity. The optimist sees opportunity in every difficulty” ~ Winston Churchill

This is a very big week ahead at the Learning Center!

First, this is the final week of the 2016 school year and graduation will be held this coming Saturday. The students have been attending class since last February and their summer time is here. We expect to have photos of graduation for you next week.

Also this week, Mariana goes to the National Spelling Bee contest. What a thrill! Several of you have sent notes of good wishes and congratulations to Mariana. Here are a few:


Mariana winning Regional 1st Place

“Congratulations to Mariana! I am so happy to read this news. I will be thinking of her and all our friends.” LB

“Congratulations to Mariana and all the wonderful teachers and volunteers who made this dream possible for her. All the young students at the Learning Center are truly blessed”. LC

“Congratulations and much success. So young and such an outstanding role model you are”.  ER

Now, because of the rules, only one parent is permitted to attend the National Spelling Bee contest. Lorena, Mariana’s mother plans to accompany her daughter. I announced last week our desire to help cover some of Lorena’s anticipated travel expenses.

I issued the request because I thought Mariana’s family could use some financial help. And, there was a second reason as well. I admire Mariana’s parents. I admire their commitment and devotion to providing the best education possible for their children. I think they represent all of the Copey community who believes education is important. And if it is possible for us “Friends” to lend a hand and support their efforts, then let’s do it. And we did!  The donations came in showing again our tremendous generosity. We believe we have enough to cover “all” of Lorena’s anticipated expenses for transportation, hotel, and meal costs. And, because of your support, Mariana will have her mother along to share this wonderful experience without worries about personal or family finances.


Lorena Rodriguez Mora with her family

Ana Yancy was notified that “the check is in the mail” to the Learning Center. We will now hold on patiently to hear next Thursday or Friday the results of Mariana’s performance. Ana Yancy expressed on behalf of Lorena and her family, and all of Copey, their deepest appreciation for our support.

I also want to “thank you donors” and everyone else as well. This often reminds me of the friend I shared with you before who apologized because she does not have on hand money to make donations. But, says she prays that those who can…will donate. Frankly, I believe her prayers work.

Once again I consider it to be my honor to be associated with you. There are so many ways to “make a difference” and once in a while, yes it takes some money…but not always. I see first hand the blessings that come in the form of donations such as with the AGB Scholarship Fund and other benefits donations provide the Learning Center. Mariana, an AGB Scholarship recipient is an excellent case in point. However, I also see the blessings that are not related to financial donations such as “Pen Pals”, weekly Posts, encouraging notes, the supportive emails I get, and the rest. Both money and our plain old fashion “good will” are what truly “makes the difference”  and makes this all work..

2016…”Friends of Copey”…what a year of caring and support this has turned out to be! 


Giving the Gift!

My father gave me the greatest gift anyone could give another person, he believed in me.                                              by Jim Valvano

I have been home from back east for less than a week and I am still feeling the excitement of my trip. You can look at last week’s Post and see why I am flying high. But, with all the great news last week, I delayed sharing some information hopefully you will find interesting.

Well, we know it is very improbable that lightning will strike the same place twice. But, some times the improbability does happen. For me, the unexpected happened once again. lighteningstrikesmountianRemember back in April, I shared the story about Makayla Hilt. I met Makayla on the final leg of my air travel from Atlanta to Tri-Cities, TN. She happened to be a Senior at Emory & Henry College and represented the first time in all of my travels to east Tennessee while flying actually meeting a student from E&H College.  I was excited about the short time we had on the flight and was completely impressed by her accounting of her years as an E&H College student and her optimism about her future. I also met her parents once we arrived at the airport. Based on my memory, her father was also a graduate from E&H College. Yes, I felt I had been struck by lightning!

On this recent trip, I once again sat down in my assigned seat. A young man was already


Dallas Gillison

seated and I again felt the need to engage my fellow traveler in conversation. Within minutes it was revealed that he too was an E&H College student. WOW! In the past three trips traveling from Atlanta to Tri-Cities, two of the three trips resulted in me having a seat next to an E&H College student. The young man was Dallas Gillison, a current Junior. It was a true delight to visit with him as we talked about his various experiences as a student at E&H College and his goals after college.


Dallas, is from New York and became aware of E&H College only because a friend of his father’s was traveling on Interstate 81 and took Exit 26, the exit for E&H College. This friend was not at all familiar with E&H College and decided to ventured onto the campus. It was a Saturday and the friend ended up attending the afternoon football game.  He  was impressed with the campus he saw and the people he encountered. Then, out of the blue, he contacted Dallas, who had earlier left the University of Southern California disillusioned about college. Dallas was encouraged to take a close look at E&H College and the rest is history.

Dallas’ educational goals include preparing for a future in Foreign Affairs and/or Community Policing. He has the U.S. Department of Justice in his career sights. He has also been very involved in community service having done work in New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina. He has worked in “soup kitchens” and has helped provide food for the homeless. Did I hear someone say “heart of a servant”? I believe Dallas is at the right place at the right time…E&H College.

I was truly impressed with Dallas. I consider him to be a young man with great promise and the potential to be a true “difference maker”.  Yes, lightening struck twice and I was very grateful for another opportunity to visit and listen to another student’s story and thoughts about E&H College. Looking forward…I will now and forever be on the look out for more E&H College students on all my future flights out of Atlanta.

While I am praising students, Mariana is certainly on our “Watch List” as she prepares to compete in the National Spelling Bee Contest. She is shown below with the other winners at the Regional Level Competition.


Mariana Rodriguez Mora with other Regional Winners (second from right to left)

Mariana, is an 11-year-old who is an Anne G. Broady Scholarship Fund recipient. She will be competing with about 27 students from around Costa Rica. Her category of competition will be the “Impromptu Speech” contest and she has a great chance to win. The National competition will be held on November 15th, 16th, and 17th and most of the competition will be held on the 16th.


Several “Friends” have sent me comments and expressions of congratulations regarding Mariana. If you haven’t, I encourage you to send a short note soon to her and I will forward all the notes I receive to show our support. Also, only one parent can attend the competition and no teachers or friends are permitted. Mariana’s mother, Lorena, will be attending. All of Mariana’s expenses for the three days will be covered by the Spelling Bee organization or the public school but Lorena will have to cover her own travel, including room and board  costs while she is attending the event.
Some of local “Friends” plan to collect some money to help Lorena with some of her expenses. According to Ana Yancy, the estimated cost will be less than $150.00. If you feel at all inclined to help out, please do. No pressure!  We just believe strongly that this is a fantastic opportunity to show our support in a very tangible way. So, if you are feeling inclined to donate a couple of dollars, the same usual methods are available…PayPal or send me the money and we will get it into the PayPal system. Please let me know if you decide to use their PayPal system so “Friends” can track ALL donations. Questions? Contact me at
My “Friends”, this is what we are all about. We are here to help support the mission/goals of the Copey Learning Center. We appreciate the trust and confidence we have earned with the community and certainly the parents. We are about 10 days away from the Learning Center’s Summer Break and we will have so many great and wonderful accomplishments documented for this school year.   THANKS TO ALL!