Grace Really is Amazing…!

“Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound, That saved a wretch like me….!
I once was lost but now am found, Was blind, but now, I see!”  by John Newton

Officially back home from Costa Rica and I appreciate the show of interest in the first installment of great photos from time spent in Copey. I hope everyone will enjoy today’s second installment.Graduation 6

Graduation 3We had the honor of sharing the graduation ceremony with the two Copey Learning Center graduates for 2017. Both are excellent students and 13 years old. We should plan to see them at E&H College for the “Pathway Project” in the future. Also, please notice the student standing next to me. This is Mariana, our Spelling Bee superstar. She and her fellow student are both wonderful young ladies and excellent role models for younger students.

We were treated with instrument playing by the Copey Learning Center students. One selection was “Amazing Grace”. How wonderful!  It is a favorite of mine and certainly one of Anne G. Broady’s favorite hymns. Hearing the music reminded me at that moment how much Mom has been a part of this entire project.Graduation 4

Another group did one of Costa Rica’s many cultural dances for the audience gathered for graduation. This dance involved the “Condor”. Their costumes and music provided an unforgettable pageantry.

Then we were blessed with the song “This Little Light of Mine” led by musical director, Jane.  This song was so relevant and appropriate for the occasion. I sat wishing the message of the song could be something each “Friend of Copey” could witness in the voices of each child on stage. We are all children, we all have a light, and we all have the potential to brighten up this world if we only decided to.Image may contain: 1 person, standing and indoor

Finally, “Friends of Copey” received a gift from the Copey Learning Center.  The words “all our thanks for your support, dedication, and affection so that this project today is a reality in our community” are contained on the plaque.

I was so honored to receive this expression of gratitude for so many reasons. This is the first time in the history of Friends that we have been publicly honored for our support. Enjoy this! It came from a grateful community and it was my pleasure to receive it on behalf of all the “Friends of Copey”. We can tell all that we have been “internationally recognized” for our service.Plaque gift from CLC

Hola…Costa Rica!!!

Pura Vida…and more! 

One of the best decisions I have made in life lately was to travel to Copey and attend the Copey Learning Center’s 2017 Graduation ceremony held Friday night. I do not think I have had a more enjoyable and magical time than being there for the celebration. I met Copey friends, students and their families, the volunteer teachers, the Center’s Board of Directors. Ana Yancy, the Center’s Director; Larry and Cindy, our architects and building consultant; and of course Jane…our volunteer superstar who I knew in college, were all present. There were so many great things that happened and I will try over the next few weeks to share most of these special moments with you.

Saturday morning a wonderful breakfast was prepared for the Board, students, volunteers, Carol, and me. There is no one who can out-perform the Copey community when it comes to hospitality and making others feel special.

“Friends of Copey” is something very special in the eyes of these folks. We are appreciated, respected, and held in the highest esteem. Our help is valued and we are true partners and being together this weekend cemented this relationship. The year 2018 will only serve to deepen this commitment and devotion we share for the Copey Learning Center’s Mission.

So I have much to say and share but for now I prefer to just provide some of the memorable photos for you to enjoy.

Pictures seen in order: Group photo at Breakfast with Board, students and volunteers;  five students with E&H connections/all but one has been to E&H; Board member Lilliana with daughter; Jane and Arthur with Ana Yancy and three new students selected for the “Pathway Project 2018”; and Jane with her favorite friend.Group Copey

Emory group9  Lililiana and daughterGroup copey 2 Jane Kitty

There are many more photos to share with some exciting new developments to report in future weeks.

Life is very good…with “Friends in Copey”!



“Being successful does not necessarily make you great. What makes you great is when you reach back and help somebody else become great.”  Joel Osteen

We are on the front end of Thanksgiving Week and I wish all the very best and hope we all find time to think about the many things we have as a country to be thankful for. This is “Friends of Copey’s” fourth year enjoying Thanksgiving and our list of  things to be thankful for is very long.Rodriguez photos

Spelling Bee

The results of the Spelling Bee are in and our very own Copey Learning Center student Mariana finished 5th in the National Competition. The report indicates she was among the youngest competing and performed exceptionally well. She is destined to be champion soon. We all congratulate Mariana. She is our winner and we are grateful to have her competing on the national stage bringing both honor and respect to the Copey community and the Learning Center. Also, again thank you for helping provide funds to allow her mother Lorena to attend the event with Mariana.

“Jane’s Last Quote of the Week…Maybe!”

About this time next week, Jane will have returned to America to her family and friends. Certainly she will enjoy sitting in her favorite chair, catching up on “Days of Our Lives”, and even sleeping in her own bed after three months. Jane studentsHer final official day of service is Friday when the Learning Center conducts its annual graduation services and closes for a couple of months for their summer. “Friends of Copey” will be there to attend the graduation and be among others to share Jane’s final hours. She has been one of the most colorful and amazing volunteers to hit Copey and she will be missed.

Here are my two favorite “Jane” quotes I have posted during her time in Copey. This first quote is priceless about Jane as she explains how she got involved.

“If he (Gail) hadn’t passed away, I hadn’t called you, you hadn’t made the donation on PayPal, and sent me the “Friends of Copey” newsletter (Post), I will still be at home watching Days of Our Lives and eating Chocolate.”

This quote speaks volumes about Copey and the Learning Center.

The most amazing thing is the love and respect the people have for each other [in Copey]. They all work hard and no one seems to complain. The students have never complained or said they don’t want to do anything!” 

Jane 5

For four years “Friends of Copey” has enjoyed success because this unique collection of “friends” simply desires “to make a positive difference”…to be difference makers”! Jane is the “poster child” for all of the “Friends of Copey”. God Bless You Jane!

Other Business

When the Learning Center starts again in February, there will be a new “Pen Pal” waiting to meet the Learning Center students. I will save the full details for later but an elementary school in Utah has agreed to become our educational partners to help the Learning Center get off on a great start in February. Their plans include providing other types of support to the Learning Center as well. This is very exciting and something very positive to look forward to in 2018.

Final Words…!

When I depart for Costa Rica tomorrow, I will be carrying all of you…”Friends of Copey” in my pockets, my luggage, and most of all…in my heart. No one could possibly feel more blessed and honored than me to go to Copey and represent this entire collection of people aka “Friends of Copey”. Without exaggeration, this unconventional approach to offering and providing needed educational support to a community is most unique. The ability do something meaningful and successfully for others because we believe we can in this fashion is “service to humanity” at work. Thanks to All!



A Veteran’s Thanks…!

“For the veteran, thank you for bravely doing what you’re called to do so we can safely do what we’re free to do.”   Author Unknown

This past weekend we focused on thanking veterans for their military service . I am veteran-daysespecially proud to have served my country and to be affiliated with others including many of my closest friends, who have also served. There are numerous childhood friends who served, several college brothers, and of course many of my current friends are included. One of my best friends, Curtis “Duck” Montgomery (age 101) a WWII veteran, who passed away last February is one veteran I will always remember and thank.  Thank each of you for your service.




In last week’s Post I incorrectly reported the “Spelling Bee” was scheduled for this past Tuesday.  I was informed my dates were wrong and the competition is actually tomorrow. So, we remain on pins and needles until we hear the results, hopefully tomorrow or Wednesday.  Mariana…Best Wishes on a successful contest!


Jane’s Quote of the Week! 

“Just rode the bus to Santa Maria. A mother with her little girl sat beside me. The little girl Jane buscouldn’t have been more than three and she started talking to me in Spanish! She spotted my phone and continued talking! I just nodded and asked her if I could take her picture! You should have seen the look on her face when I showed her the picture! She gave me a soft high-five and kept caressing my hand! Occasionally words aren’t necessary!”

Jane is counting down her remaining days in Copey. She is scheduled to depart the country on November 25th. As mentioned before, she and I will be attending the Copey Learning Center’s graduation next Friday and it will also serve as a kind of reunion for Jane and me. How strange life is…!

This has been a true joy sharing this journey with Jane! Just as Jane’s quote says….Occasionally…words aren’t necessary! Thanks!

The New Education and Cultural Center

I have been informed that a decision on the application submitted a couple of weeks ago will not likely be issued for several months. There will be an extensive review/evaluation of our application which likely will include a visit to the Copey community before we know if we successfully get through this stage.

I will continue to ask for prayer support for an outcome that will be beneficial to us all. Our hopes are for a positive response and we believe our chances are good. BUT, this is a tremendous challenge for us. Keep in mind that “sun standing still” message and believe all things are possible, if you keep the faith! As you may be so inclined, take a moment each day and provide this a prayerful or positive thought. Thank you.




“Friends…Still Difference Makers!

“There are two ways to live: you can live as if nothing is a miracle; you can live as if everything is a miracle.”     Albert Einstein


We were successful raising the $200.00 we pledged to support some of Lorena’s (Mariana’s mother) travel cost to accompany her daughter on the trip to Limon, Costa Rica, where the National English Festival…aka “Spelling Bee” is being held tomorrow. The thank you .3response time for some funding support was very short and in typical fashion, enough “Friends” responded to make the deadline. Now, we only have to wait to hear the final results. We all are pulling for Mariana to bring back to Copey the National Championship for the entire community to share.

Texas Church Shooting

As most are now aware, we have another tragic event to endure involving the senseless killing of innocent people. Our prayers and condolences extend to those closest to those who lost their lives and were injured yesterday. I pray we keep mindful there is evil ever-present…but so is good all around us. Evil finds a home among those who lack a positive purpose in life, fail to see in most cases there is a choice to do good or evil, and do not understand the same energy that is required to take a life can be used to help a life. God be with us all!

Jane’s Quote for the Week!

Jane cutie“I have dubbed this little cutie “Hello Kitty!” She is no bigger than a minute and is always smiling! Today she brought me a flower! She is so full of energy and so happy!  Life is Good!”

This very young student is benefiting from an early start on becoming familiar with the English language. But, it is much more than that. It is the relationship and the sense of being valued outside of the immediate family…it is the impact of a student/teacher relationship that can last a lifetime. The flower Jane received was only a symbol of what the little girl feels inside. It is also a symbol representing what many Learning Center students and the community feels about all the support “Friends” provides. “Friends”, do you realize how much positive impact your interest is having on both the young and old in Copey?

New Educational and Cultural Center

“Friends” has officially submitted its application to an organization we want to become a partner with us on our journey to help build a replacement facility for the current Learning Center. Without question, this is an extremely important time for us as we wait for some response.

I am calling on all “Friends” to take a minute this week to say a prayer for a positive response. We know “Friends” can make a difference in the outcome of our efforts. For those “Friends” more inclined to be great “positive” thinkers, please also join in. Together, we can all impact in a positive way the outcome as we have done many times before, especially by accomplishing results many thought unattainable. Please take a minute this week and become involved in this important decision on our application. This is one of those “sun standing still” miracles I mentioned in last week’s Post.





The Sun Stood Still…!

Spelling Bee Update

We have great news!  Out of the three students, we were successful in placing one student in the finals. Mariana has again demonstrated her excellent English skills and for Spelling Beethe second consecutive year, she is heading to the final competition…The Nationals.

Both Celeste and Margaritas placed very high and came close to winning their competition. Congratulations to both of them as we recognize being among the top three finalists is a huge success in view of the extremely tough competition they both faced.



The Nationals are scheduled for next Tuesday and “Friends” plans to provide some financial assistance to Mariana’s mother (Lorena) so she can attend the event to support her daughter just as she did last year. The rules of the competition only allows one family member to attend and no Learning Center staff are permitted.

Last year, we provided $200 to help offset some of Lorena’s travel and living expenses. We want to do this again so I am putting in the first $50.00 and invite others to voluntary match or chip in if you want. The funds need to be in Lorena’s hands by mid-day Friday in order for her to have access to the funds in time. So our response is urgent to get the funds to her.

The two methods for donating are still the same. Anyone can use the Copey Learning Center’s PayPal system which is available by using the link provided. Please indicate you are affiliated with “Friends” and that the donation is for “Lorena”. Find the “Donate Button” in the upper right-hand corner.

Or, due to the short notice, it may be more convenient for some to contact me directly via email with a pledge. I will submit the pledged amount to the same PayPal system on your behalf and will provide a PayPal receipt to you. I can be reimbursed at your convenience. Just send me a note at

Being in Southwest Virginia

Emory PhotoI just returned from southwest Virginia, the area I grew up in. I really enjoy seeing some of my childhood friends, spending time with my family, working with my colleagues on campus, and visiting some of the “Friends of Copey” who reside there. All of this was squeezed into a five-day visit.  Emory & Henry College and “Friends” are committed to continue the “Pathway Project 2018”. This is a great relief knowing we are on track for another year having students engaged in this unique educational exchange opportunity.

Jane’s Quote for the Week!


I was in Jane’s hometown area this past week and while on campus, several folks indicated their awareness of Jane’s volunteer service in Copey. She is highly regarded and admired by those following this Blog. Many feel she is representing one of the key values of our college…“service to others”. She is now in her final month as a volunteer in Copey. I will be in Copey to attend the “graduation” service with her later in November. This will be a very special time as two E&H graduates will be very happy to represent “Friends” and our college. There will be much to write about when we return to the US.

Final Words  (Joshua 10:13)

I attended church with my son and his family while I was back east. The essence of the minister’s message was to have the faith and expect prayers to be answered. Be “BOLD” in your prayers and ask for miracles…and expect that “sun standing still” event to happen. Although there has been some scientific debates regarding whether or not the sun once actually stood still, as with many Biblical accounts of this nature…it simply boils down to “Faith”. For me, I believe in being bold and expecting the unexpected to happen. And, I never get tired of witnessing the unexpected happening with “Friends”. Stay encouraged! There are more “sun standing still” miracles to be prayed for.