“Friendships…Engines That Work!”

“I touch the future. I teach!”     Christa McAuliffe

One week from today, the Utah Team will be settled in Copey and growing acquainted with some of the best folks they will ever want to meet. Their first day will include spending the morning at the Learning Center working with volunteers and interacting with the students. They will arrive in Costa Rica next Sunday morning and will reach Copey later in the afternoon.  Church after

Getting to Copey will provide some adventure with the traffic, roads, and the amazing scenery along the way.  Once in Copey, one of the most striking sights to see will be the burned down church located in the center of this small community.

Carolyn Johnson, Principal of Meadow Elementary School leading the others to Copey, commented in a recent note to me… “I was telling my son about our trip and he was stunned by the generosity you all display. He has a 16-year-old daughter and expressed that he would love to see her involved in something like this. I am retiring this year, but would absolutely love to have an opportunity to get some young people involved, if you think that would ever be a possibility.” 

I shared with Ms. Johnson our deep belief in “possibilities”. “Friends” are true “Possibilitarians”.  Most things we have done started out as only a “possibility”. I am looking forward to her retirement! In the meantime, we hope to build a strong partnership with the school to provide student interactions for educational purposes.    Meadow elementary students

And, let’s not forget the purpose of their trip to Copey.  Ms. Johnson, teachers, and students in her school led the way for the collection of school supplies and materials for the Learning Center. The quantity of this collection is huge and four educators will personally deliver the goods to the Copey Learning Center.

Next week’s Post will provide an updated report on the delivery and hopefully some great photos will be available. Until then, we wish them well and safe travels.

Larry and Cindy Windes

Copey and its surroundings has some really great folks with unbelievable talents. Recall Larry and Cindy. The proposed new Learning Center which is currently on hold was designed by Larry, a transplanted retired architect from Phoenix. Now, Larry is busy on a new project…“Fold-A-Mansion”.Larry Windes House.jpg

This unique house under construction near Copey has great potential. It has all the usual accommodations any home would have. Larry and Cindy will host the Utah Team next week for a few hours and will treat the team with a visit to the construction site.

They have resided in the area for about 10 years and have a great understanding of the many facets of Costa Rican life, culture, and its people. Hearing the American perspective on Costa Rica from this couple will be a significant and enjoyable experience for the Utah Team.  Oh yes, if you want to know more about the “Fold-A-Mansion” project, let me know.

Final Words!

Each day I am reminded how messed up this world is and see little ahead to be optimistic about. The news is full of accounts showing the dark side of folks and only occasionally something positive slips into the news day. At times it all just seems too hopeless to do anything that matters or makes a difference.

Then, there comes this ray of light. My sanity is saved. I do not get lost in the craziness confronting us each day . I can get temporarily distracted but I do not get lost because I have seen this project touch others in ways I never anticipated. It is very humbling and I have come to see “Friends” or friendships as engines that can do things. These engines are fueled in a large part by our “agape” relationship and purpose.

“Friends” have become involved in many different ways. There are volunteers in the Learning Center, workers participating in the “Pathway Project”, supporters for our scholarship fund and other fundraising efforts, those who keep us on their praying lists, those who apply their positive energies to  help us succeed, and so many I do not know much about all making up the family of “Friends”. I think the attraction is because we do share the hope of a community and believe we “can make a difference”. And…We Do!




Learning…Not a Spectator Sport!

“If you are planning for a year, sow rice; if you are planning for a decade, plant trees; if you are planning for a lifetime, educate people.”     (Chinese Proverb) 

A new month and new opportunities to make differences in the lives of kids. As “Friends” I hope we share this optimism each month if not each day. We are capable of being “difference makers” and our brief history has established this to be true.

Posts Documented!

Recently, I received the collection of my Posts written in 2017. These Friends Books 3were the electronic versions transferred into hard copies and then placed into a booklet. I am thrilled each year to take possession. Nothing replaces the thrill of holding these booklets, flipping from page to page, and having available to share with others I meet.

Beverly Eads is a most cherished “Friend” and is totally responsible for this work. This is notFriends Books 2 easy work as she combs over each word and photo in each Post. She wants this to be perfect.

Bev supports “Friends” in this very unique fashion by providing me one of the very few tangible items related to “Friends of Copey”. There is no office, no furniture, no company car, or anything owned by “Friends”… but we have these Posts bound, documenting our history and our work. Amen! 

I seldom leave home now without a booklet traveling with me. I often have conversations about “Friends” and I enjoy having a booklet to share. “Priceless!” So, thank you Bev…!

Utah Express Update…!

All systems still showing “green to go”.  The Meadow Elementary School team of educators are leaving in a couple of weeks for Costa Rica and are now finalizing their itinerary for

Utah team
Ms. Watters, Ms. Johnson (Principal), Ms. McMullen, and Ms. Christiansen

their time inside the country.

They will be in Copey from March 18 until March 21st. Not only are they delivering the donated school supplies, they will volunteer in the Learning Center classroom, visit with our great friends Larry and Cindy (transplants from Phoenix), visit the local elementary school, take some tours, be guests at a special evening performance by those talented Copey Learning Center students, and treated with a dinner with the Copey community. Obviously, this is a non-stop schedule and filled with rich experiences to take back to Utah.  There are some real “superstars” in Copey working hard to make this all happen. And, hosting is something they really do well. Thanks…Copey!

Final Word to “Friends”

I encourage you to keep connected to the work being done to support the Copey Learning Center’s mission. I struggle explaining to all just how unique our work is. Time and time again we have proven that people from all over this country come into our project and do something fantastic, unexpected, or unbelievable. At the moment we are highlighting the Utah Express and last Fall we witnessed Jane Rutledge’s impact on our work and the community she devoted herself to.

We have college students, professors, administrators, and even trustees helping our cause. The list of folks and the many different walks of life falling under the broad umbrella of “Friends” is extensive. It is very humbling to see.images

Often, I see us all as tools in life’s big toolbox. Just like a beautiful  sunset, when the time is right and the need is clear, Someone bigger than each of us picks up the right tool and goes to work. It all becomes something awesome to behold. We are blessed to have a Boss who knows what HE is doing.  THANK YOU ALL!





Education…Teaches Us Life Too!

“He (or She) who is not courageous enough to take risks will accomplish nothing in life.”       By Muhammad Ali

I received word this week from the Copey Learning Center’s Board thanking “Friends” for the support we continually provide. “Thank you for your loyalty and commitment, people around the world follow and know about the Copey Learning Center”, says the Copey Learning Center Board.

Well, it is true that others are watching with some interest in the ongoing

Blog Stats

Data from Week 2/February 2018

relationship between the Copey Learning Center and “Friends of Copey”. I see the evidence of non-USA and non-Costa Rican visitors each week checking in on this Blog. For example, the stats from my Blog report covering site visits indicate the locations site visits originate. The snapshot provided is an example of countries in addition to the USA and Costa Rica. There are even more countries including Brazil, and Thailand frequently showing up.

Some have suggested these odd visits happen simply by people accidentally clicking on my Blog. Of course, I am not totally convinced it is 100% accidental. I have watched these stats for about 5 years and it is not easy to explain as simply as an accidental visit to this site. Sometimes, I think there are folks who check in out of curiosity about how “Friends” works so effectively on an international project. Many communities have the same educational issues Copey has and they are looking for answers. The key point both the Board and I are making is this project is more widely known than we may think. And that is the truth!

“Pathway Project 2018”

Last week you met Lourdes and this week please meet Brian Steven Rodríguez Torres. Brian is also preparing to travel to the USA in June. He is now 16 years old and has been a Copey Learning Center student for seven years. His application for “Pathway Project 2018” revealed his strong interest in soccer and cultural related topics such as the various foods found in Costa Rica. He is acquainted with many different cuisines and looks forward to sharing some of these during his time at Emory & Henry College. Here is a comment he provided;  Brian and Lourdes. 2

“If I will have the opportunity to play on a soccer team in USA or another place or country that speaks English I need to communicate easier with my teammates or my coach.  And, the other thing is when the people who come to Costa Rica, I need to talk with them to explain the culture, tradition and other things that we have in Costa Rica.”

We look forward to Brian’s arrival. We know this opportunity to meet and connect with US students will have a positive and memorable impact on him. We also hope he will return home to Copey as a strong and positive ambassador especially for other young men in his community needing some inspiration to continue their education.

“The Utah Express”

The educational guestsMeadow-Elementary from Meadow Elementary School in Lehi, Utah, are working on the final details of their travel to Copey. Their travel upon arrival, housing, meals, and a host of other plans are being worked out to make certain everyone will have a very great time and little or no glitches. This is one of the more exciting events “Friends” has been involved in. Keep watching for updates.

School Shooting!

We continue to pray for peace and comfort for the family and friends who lost loved ones in the recent Florida shooting. We pray for the whole community and hope there will be sane and reasonable solutions which will provide greater safety for our school students all throughout our country.

Rev. Billy Graham

When I was a kid living in southwest Virginia, Rev. Billy Graham was  practically a household name. North Carolina is only an hour or so from home and early television viewing often included regional church revivals and religious services conducted by Rev. Graham.  All of my family and the community knew of Rev. Billy Graham. Very few national and international ministers have risen to his level of gospel preaching, his level of scrutiny and personal inquiry, and his level of religious impact on the modern-day world. He never lost his focus on the message of salvation to all regardless of race, color, or creed. I am certain he is welcomed Home!















“The Heart…Homeplace for Love!

“Death leaves a heartache no one can heal, love leaves a memory no one can steal.” Author Unknown

The Utah Express

John Steinbeck once wrote “that people don’t take trips but trips take people” and this could be true for the Utah folks. Passports are in hand and it looks like the Utah travelers are getting packed up.  Only about four weeks before take off and we all are busy working on the travel itinerary. Passport.3 Some exciting events are being planned to welcome, entertain, and inform the guests. I personally regret not being able to join them to share the experience of delivering boxes of school supplies and materials. Also, I will miss seeing the magic that somehow takes place in this little part of the world. However, I will be at my command post making certain each “Friend” stays informed and aware of the Utah visit to Copey.

The “Pathway Project 2018”

Today, we learned that a second Emory & Henry College student is planning to travel to Copey to work as a volunteer this Spring. I only have their names at this time. It is a wonderful feeling to know the “Pathway Project” attracts students going in both directions as it was intended. More details on these students will follow soon.brian-and-lourdes-2.jpg

Within weeks, Lourdes and Brian, Copey students selected for the “Pathway Project 2018” to travel to America, will begin their classwork and other preparations for their travel in June. Pathway student Lourdes recently wrote in her application:

“My name is María Lourdes Monge Rodríguez.  I was born on March 12th,2001.  I am in 11°grade.  I have been a student at CLC for 8 years.

Not many people have this opportunity of travel to USA and learn English, I am very lucky because I can learn English with North American teachers, and  this opportunity to go to Emory . If I can go to USA I want to make the things the best I can, represent my country, learn and mainly enjoy this opportunity.

When I return to Costa Rica I can share my experience with all the students of Copey Learning Center to motivate them to participate to obtain this scholarship. In Costa Rica I can teach and help children in English, be a volunteer and a good leader.”

Final Note

Once again, “Friends of Copey” extends our heartfelt condolences to those families and friends who recently lost loved ones caused by another senseless killing. This deeply saddens us as we devote much of our time and resources to help improve the lives of young students. So much is lost and gone in nearly a blink of an eye…for reasons no one can justify.

There are times when I am mesmerized by the photo of the Copey Learning Center. Its color scheme and simplicity says so much. But, the center lacks many of the amenities and advantages our US schools typically provide students. The school in Florida where so much death and destruction took place has its lovely campus and the beautiful neighborhood surrounding the school. The enviable weather and the spirit of Valentine’s Day filling the air, just all seemed near perfect.zzzstudents cleaning up

In comparison, the Copey Learning Center would be a condemned facility or considered far too ill-suited and substandard to house students for education purposes if it were located in America.

So, I am reminded of the line in that song from long ago…“a house is not home”. In Copey, the house…the Copey Learning Center is a home where all the people know each other, care for each other, and want the best for each other. With the words Copey Learning Center written above the door [probably by a student], with its electrical and plumbing issues, no real amenities, and many more shortcomings, the place really is looking more like paradise lately.

Let’s pray that righteous hearts and minds will prevail in search of honest and meaningful solutions. Kids should not be less safe at school than they are at a ball game or flying to go see grandma. We are much better than this.

Can I get an Amen?


A Child’s Smile…!

“There is in every child at every stage a new miracle of vigorous unfolding, which constitutes a new hope and a new responsibility for all.”    by  Erik Erikson

The ED Salary Support Campaign

ED Salary Support    Goal: $2,500.00       Actual: $2,600.00        Deadline: Achieved

“VICTORY”…how sweet it is!  “Friends”…everyone take a bow and accept the thanks and appreciation for a job done exceptionally well.  This week we officially declare the ED Salary Support Campaign complete and successful.Good News

How sweet is this? “Friends” involved in 2015 may recall that it required a huge local “parking lot” sale in April to get us across the finish line. In 2016, there was a “yard sale” in July that provided the small amount of funds needed to reach our goal. Then, last year we completed our fundraising efforts at the end of February. Declaring victory today makes this even more astounding than last year.

Meadow Elementary School

My instincts told me when “Friends of Copey” first began that kids from places outside of Copey would be a key element associated with this venture. Pen Pal opportunities were considered an excellent way to facilitate awareness and meaningful connections between students at the Learning Center and students attending American schools.

We have had several Pen Pal connections over the four years and each one provided special opportunities for students to learn. Then, with the success of the “Pathway Project”, we have possibly established the ultimate educational form of student to student connection. Copey students traveling to America and interacting with US students a couple of weeks each summer provides extraordinary and mutually beneficial opportunities for learning and discovery.

Meadow elementary students

Meadow Elementary Students

You have read about Meadow Elementary School in Utah and you know the students collected boxes and boxes of school supplies and materials to donate to the Copey Learning Center. And, you know a team of school representatives (four total) will travel to Copey to personally deliver the supplies.

In hindsight, it was a simple invitation to set up a “Pen Pal” connection with the Meadow Elementary School and the Copey Learning Center which started all this. As often the case, educators quickly see how contact with students from other countries can offer meaningful educational experiences. With the availability of Skype service, students can meet and share time with others from a different culture, different geography, and a different language.

Meadow elementary school 2

Meadow Elementary Students

The team heading to Copey will meet the current volunteer teachers working at the Learning Center along with the staff and local community volunteers. All devoted to making a difference in the lives of kids in their community. The team also plans to spend some time volunteering and sharing some of their expertise to help the cause. The Copey community is fully aware of the team’s arrival and be certain the team will return to Utah with lasting memories.

Following the trip to Copey, I expect we will continue with the original plan to establish a “Pen Pal” relationship. I ask all the teachers and staff at Meadow Elementary School, parents, and students to closely follow these events over the next several months. All are welcomed to join “Friends of Copey”…requiring nothing more than a desire to help a community dedicated to making a difference in the lives of the kids in their community.

I hope other schools will recognize the value and the potential educational benefits this can provide. I am always willing to help.



The Amen Corner…!

“Let us be eager to leave what is familiar for what is true.”  by  Francis Chan

There were several “Amens” registered by “Friends” following the last Post. It is very refreshing to get a response to a Post, especially from the “Amen Corner”. Each week, there are good reasons to shout “Amen”. Here are a few for this week!

The Scholarship Campaign   

Anne G. Broady SF   Goal:  $1,500.00    Actual: $1,825.00     Deadline: Achieved

Our recent focus has been mostly on the two key annual fundraisers and we are happy to officially announce again the goal for the Anne G. Broady Scholarship Fund has been achieved on schedule. The responses exceeded our expectations and the Learning Center is lining up the scholarship recipients now. We expect to officially announce the achievement of the second fundraiser, the Executive Director’s Salary Support within the next couple weeks…also ahead of schedule.

Meadow Elementary School Update

tamariePlans for the Meadow Elementary School representatives’ visitation to the Copey Learning Center in March continue. Principal Carolyn Johnson and Tamarie McMullin are getting ready to personally deliver school supplies and material being collected by their students.

While at the Learning Center, they plan to stay a couple of days and do volunteer work, not just drop off supplies. They will meet members of the Board of Trustees, other community supporters, and volunteer teachers at work. Certainly, they will meet many students including both Fabriana and Mariana.

Fabriana and Mariana are coming stars who graduated from the Copey Learning Center in November. Both are exceptional students with a very good command of the English language. When they are older, they will be ideal candidates for the “Pathway Project”. Below are selected sections of their speeches presented the night of their graduation.

Graduation Speeches in 2017

“Copey Learning Center is my second home. When I started 8 yeas ago, I did not have any idea about how English could help me in the future. This is the best decisión my parents have made for me. English also helps me to read, write and speak I also listen to different accents, I have learned to share with teachers and friends.

I saw the movie “Hidden Figures”. In this movie there was a very important woman named Katherine Johnson. I realized it does not matter what color you are, but how you use your knowledge.”  by Fabriana (exerpt)         

Mariana Fabriana

Fabriana, Ana Yancy, and Mariana

 I’m a sixth grade student and today is one of the best days of my life, maybe for you today is another graduation but I’m so glad to have you here.  Enrolling me into the CLC was one of the best decisions my parents made since I was born because it opens many doors for me now and also in the future, a plus in my education, a place to have fun, learn values and opportunities. I can’t imagine my life without English. It will be a life with not many advantages for a better way of life.”  by Mariana  (exerpt) 



Pathway Project 2018

Pathway images 2

Ana Yancy, Dahiana, Jane, Lourdes, Brian, and Arthur

Principal Johnson and Tamarie will also meet Brian and Lourdes, the “Pathway Project 2018” students preparing to come to America in June.

Ana Yancy and  Dahiana will accompany the students. Brian will be our very first male student to participate. We are excited about his participation and hope he will be a major inspiration for other male students to excel in their English studies while attending the Learning Center.


The Copey Learning Center Officially Opens for Business on Monday!




Just Say Amen..!

“If you said [Amen] on Sunday…you must walk in [Faith] on Monday!”                                    Author Unknown

We have had our string of continuous “good news” during January and this final Post for this month will not be an exception. “Good News” keeps on coming!

The Scholarship Campaign   (Achieved)

Anne G. Broady SF   Goal:  $1,500.00    Actual: $1,750.00     Deadline: January 26, 2018

Our goal has been achieved! In fact, we have some extra funds to work with. The Learning Center is busy selecting the scholarship recipients for 2018.

The ED Salary Support Campaign

ED Salary Support    Goal: $2,500.00       Actual: $1,900.00        Deadline: April 9, 2018

BIG News! Today, we are reporting our ED Salary Support is very close to being achieved as well. The funds reported today reflect what has been received to date and a portion of what we are certain is on the way. We predict this will be officially achieved in the next few days.

This is really BIG News because we are more than two months ahead of schedule. Translated…”Friends” has responded with donations sooner and with greater generosity than in previous years. BalloonsThank You…!

Meadow Elementary School Update

Some “Friends” commented on last week’s Post about our new partners, the Meadow Elementary School in Lehi, Utah. The comments were very positive and I assure everyone that “Friends” is capable of being partners with others anywhere in the world.  Meadow-Elementary

The school is busy gathering school supplies for the Learning Center. We do not know at this hour how much supplies will be donated but any amount is useful and certainly appreciated.

Remember…this is a month of “Good News!”

Some “Friends” may ask about our plans for delivering the supplies to Copey? Granted…it is a major challenge to ship supplies to Copey. BUT…Meadow Elementary School has the answer.

The school’s Principal, Carolyn Johnson along with Tamarie McMullin, plan to deliver

carolyn Johnson

Carolyn Johnson, Leadership in Action

the school supplies in person. Yes…! They are working on their passports now and making arrangements to travel to Costa Rica in March for the purpose of delivering the goods and spending time volunteering at the Learning Center.

They will be the third source of USA educational representatives (“Friends”) to journey to the Learning Center…our “Friends” Jane and Hailey Tibbett being the first professionals. Of course, we have had three college students who have also traveled to Copey to volunteer.

We delight in others seeing first-hand the Learning Center at work and even volunteering some of their time. “Friends” has many followers who are both active and retired educational professionals around this country and all are invited to visit Copey.

The Copey community has been informed of their future visitors and are getting the red carpet ready to be rolled out again.

Keep following the upcoming Posts as I continue to report on this astounding story. If for some reason you still doubt “divine intervention”, please call me.

Final Words…!

There is more “good news” developing and February promises to be another month worth watching. The Learning Center opens in a few days and we will be off running for another unbelievable school year. The next Post will probably be issued later this week prior to me departing town for a few days.

Can I get an AMEN?