If No Struggle…No Progress!

“If you are on the RIGHT path…it will always be going uphill.”    by Henry B . Eyring

The “Pathway Project”

Nearly four years ago when conversations began about the vision of one or more Copey students traveling to Emory & Henry College (E&H College), the vision did not have a name. When the idea began to take shape, the hurdles crossed, and various parts and pieces were being put in place, the work involved seemed to be a process of making a “pathway” to or from someplace not traveled before. As Dr. Gaia and I came closer to seeing this become reality, it dawned on us to also consider E&H College students going to Copey. I have come to refer to this two-way journey as the “Pathway Project” since we have Copey students traveling to our college and college students traveling to Copey.

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“A Pathway to Success”

On May 14, Melody Lipford will be landing in San Jose, Costa Rica. She is this year’s E&H College student volunteering at the Copey Learning Center and will represent the 4th volunteer “Friends” has been closely involved in. Melody has already been interfacing with Ana Yancy and Angela over the past several weeks as part her preparation for rural living in Costa Rica and becoming part of the Copey community.

Based on prior experiences, we know Melody will have an extraordinary experience in



the Copey community.  The “Pathway Project’s” maiden journey last year involved our college students Xavier and Casey. Both were very welcomed by the Copey community and were treated with the genuine warmth and receptivity the way only Copey students can provide. Similar to last year, we will monitor Melody’s “pathway” experience as much as possible to share with “Friends”.

On June 11th, Melody will return with our Learning Center guests; students Fatima and Adriana together with Executive Director Ana Yancy. Angela, who chaperoned our Copey students last year, will again travel from Copey to lead the way. Being a very experienced Washington, D.C. tour guide, she is already making plans for each of them to attend the New York City Ballet performance once they arrive in our nation’s capital. Then the journey down Interstate 81 will include probable stops at the Natural Bridge and the Luray Caverns coupled with other tourist attractions. It is safe to say that before the Copey guests even reach the entry of the E&H College campus, they will already have a suitcase full of lifetime memories to take home. We can all be proud of the development and use of the “Pathway Project”. I give the credit to Dr. Gaia and her colleagues for putting in the time and effort to make this work.

The New Learning Center Update

We are continuing to gather and assemble the necessary information needed to submitIMG_1434 (2)our first formal application for the new “Learning Center”. Unfortunately, due to other current commitments, 100% of our time can not be devoted to this effort until mid summer. However, some work is being done almost daily and this slow process is complying with the time-table we decided on. So we are not behind. From our vantage point, this new Learning Center is an extremely important goal and our efforts should reflect the quality and dedication it deserves. This will without doubt become one of “Friends of Copey’s” biggest “partnership” efforts ever. Keep praying!

Similar to the “Pathway Project”, we will stay committed and devoted to this vision and in time “pathways” to success will open up. My Dad often said to me…“if it was easy, everybody (anybody) would be doing it.”  I am looking forward to this time next year and excited about the things I will be writing to you about then. We have been blessed, we are blessed, and there still are blessing yet to be had.  Stay connected.



Fearless Faith..!

“People get ready…there’s a train a comin. All you need is faith to hear the diesels hummin”                        by Curtis Mayfield 

Spring time moves along and this weekend we celebrated Easter. In Copey, this last week was the celebration of  Holy Week or “Semana Santa”. Schools were closed and the country spent the week celebrating with parades and other festivities.

For most Costa Rican families, they gather and enjoy special meals, comply with the Catholic practice of not eating meat on Fridays during Lent. Instead, seafood is traditionally consumed including ceviche, rice and shrimp, fried fish and a variety of desserts.

One of the more disturbing facts about Holy Week in Costa Rica is the death rate among young people who find various ways of celebrating that turn tragic. As of today, I do not have the most recent statistics look but over the past couple years, weekend fatalities exceeded 20 or more deaths related to drinking and partying by young people around the beaches.

The New Learning Center Decision

As promised, the deliberation regarding the decision to move forward from Stage 1 to Stage 2 is completed. I hope I speak on behalf of many “Friends of Copey” today as I announce our decision to move forward. Stage 2 is an even more important stage because this reflects a major commitment to finalize a funding request package and begin seeking interested donors to help pay for this project. Today’s schedule looks like the following:  First, there is a preliminary approval needed before we can officially start this project. If approved, the official start date for seeking donations will begin in August/September 2017. If funding efforts are successful by early 2018, ground breaking will be planned for late 2018 or early 2019. IMG_1309 (6)Over the next few weeks, I will provide more detailed reports on our initials steps, on the building design, projected costs, planned usage of the facility, and fundraising efforts. “Friends of Copey” will encounter significant challenges regarding our “faith”. Looking back over the four plus years we have supported the Copey Learning Center, so much has been achieved mostly because we applied our “faith” in the use of our efforts. As “Friends” we first believe it can be done…then we witness it being done.IMG_1434 (2)

“God, give me (us) grace to accept with serenity the things that cannot be changed, Courage to change the things which should be changed, and the Wisdom to distinguish the one from the other.”  The Serenity Prayer

We have an opportunity to build a new facility in a small community which will have the potential to educate children in ways not even imaginable a few years ago. We have the secondary opportunity to educate and improve the lives of adults residing in Copey. And, we have the opportunity to develop a regional resource center that will serve others outside of the community of Copey. If successful, one day the Copey community will have a multi-purpose educational, cultural, and economic development center the community will proudly own and operate.

I would like to close this Post with a quote I recently came across…I think it speaks to us about the “why” for some of the decisions we have made as “Friends”.

“There was some very important work needed to be done. ANYBODY could have done it, but NOBODY did it. SOMEBODY got concerned because it was EVERYBODY’S job. But, EVERYBODY thought ANYBODY could do it, but NOBODY realized that EVERYBODY would not do it. It ended up that EVERYBODY blamed SOMEBODY when NOBODY did what ANYBODY could have done!

As “Friends” let’s not be “anybody, nobody, or even just a somebody or just anybody”, let’s be “Friends of Copey”.  Thanks to all!







We All Teach…!

“I think the teaching profession contributes more to the future of our society than any other single profession.”     by John Wooden

I am finishing up my time in Tennessee and Virginia having attended my Board of Trustee’s meeting on the campus of Emory & Henry College. The college is an exciting zzzEmory imageplace to be. You can feel the excitement of students heading towards their final months of school. The campus is beautiful and has tremendously talented professors and extraordinary students contributing to the success of this small liberal arts college. According to Newsweek, Emory & Henry College is ranked fourth among all colleges and universities in the nation in providing service learning and community service.

Preparations are underway to welcome the Copey Learning Center students scheduled tozzzEmory image 5 arrive on the college’s campus in June. Several Trustees confirmed their personal support to help raise the funds needed to cover the travel expenses for Ana Yancy, Angela, Fatima, and Adriana. We will officially call on that support in early May.

Fatima and Adriana are busy preparing their own cultural dance presentation which they will perform while visiting our campus. The Copey community is also busy helping raise some of the funds needed to cover expenses prior to their departure. The Copey community is solidly behind the two students traveling to America. After June, the community will then have four of their small student population who have visited America. This opportuntiy to come to America serves as a powerful incentive for other students to learn. I hope this idea will be expanded to other US educational locations and more Copey students having the opportunty to travel to the US.

“Friends”, Copey is a rural community very steep in cultural and traditional ways. Being such, families with very strong and close ties, require both trust and courage to allow their students to fly off to America. This is not a simple matter, not even for American parents who allow their students to travel to other countries. As “Friends” we have earned the trust in Copey and we all are blessed to have both Angela and Ana Yancy’s involvement and support.   New Banner.1In my Post last year at this time I quoted our 35th President, John F. Kennedy. He said…“Children are the messengers we send to a time we will not see”. President Kennedy’s message was and still is so profound and so simple. It is a real joy spending time with my grand-kids and interacting with other young people. I understand their role as future messengers. Awhile back I shared with you the story of my grandfather paying me a quarter when I delivered his bowl of soup “perfectly” (without any spillage) each Saturday more than 50 years ago. The simple lesson was a very powerful life lesson provided in a simple and practical way. Learning early the concept of being paid based on performance has lasted my entire work life. Today, we have the responsibility for providing the message to the messengers of tomorrow.  Let’s teach them how to earn that quarter and other important life lessons.

Regarding the new facility, I spoke with several supporters over the past several weeks regarding our pending decision to help construct a new Learning Center in Copey. Very valuable advice has been offered and I will factor in all the advice as we move to our final decision.  The time is getting close for an official announcement. Stay tuned in.

Thank You “Friends”


The Hope of Spring…!

Do you desire to construct a vast and lofty fabric? Think first about the foundations of humility. The higher your structure is to be, the deeper must be its foundation.                              by  Saint Augustine 

A couple of weeks ago I had the honor and pleasure to visit with Dr. Joe Thomas. Recall that Dr. Thomas (Joe) was very instrumental in helping “Friends of Copey” get an early foothold into the mission of the Learning Center. His encouragement and support was a powerful source for me and spending time with him recently was a blessing. The great chemistry we seem to have is difficult to describe. Dr. Joe is a major player for the Junior Achievement organization and is well placed to make a difference in the lives of young people. More details about Dr. Joe is under Key Friends.

This week’s wonderful news from Copey is all four future travelers are now cleared EH collegewith visas to journey to the US. Ana Yancy, current Executive Director and Angela, past Executive Director will both escort our two 2017 students to America and on to Emory & Henry College. Fatima and Adriana are both outstanding students and will represent their community and country extremely well just as Celeste and Noelia did last year. With this travel clearance, the students and the Copey community can now with certainty begin to work together to raise some local funds to provide partial support for their traveling expenses. Continue reading