“Don’t Miss the Joy…!”

“Joy is prayer; joy is strength: joy is love; joy is a net of love by which you can catch souls.”   By  Mother Teresa   
I really love December! We can take a look back on the year to account for ourselves and also look forward to new opportunities, new dreams, and a new year.

But there is much more about December. It is Christmas Time!  It is the time to celebrate the real meaning of the Christmas season and to share the joy of life. My joy is believing we all come into this world for a reason and believing Jesus could be the very first poster child for coming into this world with a Christmas Joy 3purpose. His birth, His life, and finally His death was totally dedicated to fulfilling that purpose.

Similarly, we (“Friends”) also have a purpose in my opinion and the purpose is uniquely different from one person to another, from one “Friend” to another. And, as a collection of “Friends” I believe our purpose is Divine. I also believe when we are the closest to knowing, understanding, believing, and actively involved in this purpose, the joy we experience is unmistakable and wonderful.

So, my Christmas message to “Friends” is that as a group of folks we are divinely called upon to help Copey and we should consider our work a joy for us and a blessing to others. We should enjoy family and friends…and not “miss the joy”.

Update on the New Multi-Purpose 

Our formal application to Building Goodness Foundation (BGF), located in Charlottesville, Virginia, requested their support to join us as partner in our efforts to initiate a successful fundraising campaign in 2018, was “not approved”.

copey-learning-center-exterior-perspective-view-001.jpgThe reasons for not approving cited by BGF were: a) a BGF policy change  placing their building focus on Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras (and some very rural areas in Nicaragua). And b) BGF did not see any real value being added for them to be involved since a local (Copey) crew could do the work.

Of course, this decision is very disappointing news for “Friends” everywhere, the Copey community, and me personally. We devoted a great deal of time and energy in the preparation of the application to provide us the best opportunity to be evaluated and examined as a serious and worthy “partner” in this building project. However, we appreciate and have “thanked” BGF for the experience and the opportunity to be considered as “partners”.

I thank each of you who contributed to the preparation of the application. We were all proud of it. Special thanks to Larry, Cindy, and Carol! 

We are not discouraged and will move on! We will continue efforts to find alternative ways to get our new Learning Center funded and built. Looking back to my earlier comments about knowing you have a purpose, consider this a very “special” purpose we have. We plan to do all we can to build the new Learning Center. Stay tuned as we begin to develop a new strategy for succeeding.

Year End Review

Another joy I have each year is sharing our year-end performance report with allBalloons“Friends”. The twelve months have passed quickly but we have made great use of our time. During the next few days, I will complete our “2017 Performance Report” for both the financial and non-financial support we provided the Learning Center.

The year has been extraordinary in many ways. “Friends” has continued to impact lives by providing life-changing experiences for many. Look out for a “special two-part” year-end “2017 Performance Report” later this week.  Thank  you from the bottom of my heart!

 

 

 

 

“Friends”…Not A Destination But A Journey!

“Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement. Nothing can be done without hope and confidence.”     By Helen Keller                                                                                                     
“Friends”, this is my last installment of the photos from the recent trip to Costa Rica although I may slip a few more in over the next few weeks. So, please stay connected. I have enjoyed all of the comments regarding the photos and some of you have even stated you are planning to attend the graduation next November. Believe me…there is more than enough love and affection in Copey for all of us to enjoy. Is it about time for us to make our “New Year’s Resolutions? 

Photos Below include in order: “Friends of Copey” and the Copey Learning Center united; Dancers during the graduation ceremony performing; Jane with 2017 Graduates Fabriana and Mariana;  A view from the mountain of Jaco in the distance (nearly four-hour drive to the Pacific coast from Copey); Beach front in Jaco; Croc’s Resort in Jaco, and one of Croc’s crocodiles.

graduation 1    Graduation.2  Graduation 3jane-fabriana.jpg           Jaco 1    Jaco 2  Jaco 4  Jaco 3  Jaco 5Life in Jaco is almost the opposite to the way of life in Copey. Both places are worth experiencing. Get in touch now with your travel agent to arrange for next year’s graduation.  My very best wishes to all “Friends”.

 

Picturing You in Copey…!

“There are two great days in a person’s life – the day we are born and the day we discover why.”    By William Barclay

So we continue….!

This is the third installment of photos documenting the recent trip to the Copey Learning Center. Hopefully, you are seeing the reasons why “Friends of Copey” was first established five years ago and why we continue our involvement.  The following photos are: Larry and Cindy Windes receiving  the “Distinguished Friends Award” for their work on the new Learning Center design;  Ana Yancy receiving the “Outstanding Leadership Award” and signed copy of Felicia Mitchell’s (English Professor at E&H College) book “Waltzing with Horses”I wish you could picture yourself being at the Copey Learning Center.

Graduation 10      Graduation 7 Ana PresentationSeidy, the Founder of the Copey Learning Center with Board President Lorena; Ariana (2017), Celeste (2016), Fatima (2017) Pathway Project students.  Lourdes (2018) Pathway Project student candidate. Proudly wearing E&H College colors.Graduation 11    graduation-81.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

Jane and I shared her final hours in the nearby town of Santa Maria before she returned to the USA. She provided the Copey community all she could offer under extraordinary conditions. She was recognized for sharing her time and talents during the 90 days she spent performing outstanding educational and community service. It was an honor to be with Jane on her final day in Copey.

Graduation 12Jane Certificate

Thank You Jane!

We can all learn something from one another and we are never too young or even too old for our lessons. Jane taught us all a few things over the past three months. I am mindful of a few important life lessons I can share.

First, we each have a purpose for being here and one of the biggest regrets in life…is to never figure your purpose. Next, life does not intend for us to keep that “light under the basket”. We are happier, more fulfilled, and worthwhile when we bring light to a life needing hope and encouragement. And finally, owing something is not a bad thing…since it means you were given something. I have been given far more than I have means to repay. But, I am willing to pay something. As Jane has been known to say…“It just gets better!”

Other News

We are still waiting on a decision regarding our partnership application with Building Goodness Foundation. Our sincere hope is that we will hear soon and that the news is good.

The Learning Center is officially closed until February but work continues. In 2018, there will be a full list of opportunities to help support the Learning Center. We are nearing the end of our fourth complete year of support and we look forward to the upcoming year with great anticipation.

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”!

 

HAPPY THANKSGIVING…!

“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.

Correction!

rodriguez-photos-e1508184931340.jpg

Mariana

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.