“My dream is of a place and a time where America will once again be seen as the last best hope of earth.” By Abraham Lincoln
During my first visit in 2011 to Copey for my interview for a volunteer teaching position, it was obvious the facility used for the Copey Learning Center was below standards…in my opinion. However, Copey is a rural community where time, climate, and economic conditions were and are harsh enemies of the few structures I saw. The public schools were in a little better condition and the crown jewel of the community, the Catholic Church, seemed to have fought the best fight against time and the elements.
Fortunately, the Copey Learning Center relocated to a seldom used “community center” after 2013 with the blessings of the local powers to be. The move was intended to be a temporary solution. The community center also had its share of problems with plumbing, electrical, and other health and safety issues.
It was natural to begin wondering how to help the community to obtain a better facility. The outstanding work being done with the children justified in my mind the need to try to do something. This meant to explore the idea of a new facility being built.
I heard about a retired couple from Arizona who were living a short distance from Copey. They had been in the region for about 10 years. Larry Windes was retired having been President of Larry Windes and Associates, a prominent Arizona architect firm. I soon became acquainted with Larry and his wife Cindy.
Larry is a native of Arizona and earned a Bachelor of Architecture Degree from Arizona State University (1968). He studied landscape architecture under the tutelage of the Hon. Rene Perchere – 1965 (Landscape architect to the Crown of Belgium). Larry is the author of the book “High-Rise Cluster Matrix Housing”.
Since being in the Copey region, he has designed numerous homes and other structures. His years around Copey has provided him a special familiarity and understanding of the construction laws, regulations, permit requirements, politics, and Costa Rican culture. He knows the labor force and construction resources available that are unique to the region. He has earned tremendous credibility as an architect and designer in Costa Rica.
Both Larry and Cindy have been part of the official greeting party who welcomes to their home supporters of “Friends of Copey”. Jane Rutledge’s family and the wonderful folks from Utah have been warmly welcomed to their home with grand hospitality.
When I asked Larry to help design a facility to meet the educational needs of a loving and forward thinking community, he quickly put pencil in hand. He involved the Copey community in discussions regarding what they wanted and needed the facility to be.
In early 2017, Larry’s final product was unveiled. We were introduced to a multi-purpose facility that would be a center piece for education for English education and also a viable resource for supporting the community’s interest in economic development projects. The community’s goal now…to educate students and to generate new opportunities for revenue for the community.
Will this new facility ever be built?
“Dreams and Visions” take time. About 50 years ago many of us heard an eloquent speech about a dream that one day we would judge others based on “content of character and not the color of one’s skin”. That is still a “dream” not yet fully realized. But, dreams are never achieved if lacking dedication and the will to succeed.
Funding efforts have been made. We were once guided down a funding path and at the end, the proposal was rejected. The proposal was not rejected on its merits, but on a corporate change of funding focus due to some international disasters. Subsequent promises of possible support were made but did not materialize. Then we placed a hold on funding efforts following the tragic fire in 2018 that burned down the iconic church located in the center of Copey. The remains of the burned church still remain as for building anything, church or school, in a remote rural community is full of challenges.
Today, although Covid-19 has shut down all educational facilities including the Copey Learning Center, the need for a facility has not been greater. The temporary facility being used at the close of the 2019 school year, was no longer available for 2020. The center was forced to return to the original location. The challenge remains.
Our potential for assisting with a new facility remains positive. “Friends of Copey” has played a key role in bringing together truly amazing people with…“hearts of servants”. Larry and Cindy are solid members of this group of unselfish supporters. Others are out there and I would like to hear from you. In a recent note to me Larry said,
“Know that we (Larry and Cindy) are in this for the long haul. There is no more important objective than to assist in the education of the coming generations.”
Three Did Gather!
Thanks Celeste and Monica for the wonderful visit this week. We three did gather and tried to solve our country’s problems. More work is needed unfortunately.
Often I speak of “divine intervention”. I watch people’s eyes roll since they give very little credence to this concept of non-accidental events. Meeting Larry and Cindy, well there can not be any better explanation for our paths to cross than “divine intervention”. I challenge you to go to Costa Rica or any place similar to Copey and find the likes of Larry and Cindy standing in your pathway ready and willing to go to work.
And, because of my strong belief in “divine intervention”, I pray new doors of opportunity will swing open to help us experience the Vision of a new multi-purpose facility capable of not only changing lives of kids but the lives of an entire community with the potential for economic prosperity.
Ideas and suggestions are welcomed. Spread around this country and elsewhere are some very intelligent and resourceful “friends”. We pray and we expect success because we have a growing history of achievement. We are committed to being “possibilitarians”.