Give To What you Believe in…Believe In What You Give!

“Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have…give I to thee!”                   Peter   Acts 3:6

As I mentioned last week, things are very busy and this week is no exception. Based on my understanding, all of the current volunteer staff at the Learning Center have completed their commitment and are moving on. This break in the volunteer support is naturally a disruption in teaching services but an unavoidable one while being

Daniel

Daniel at work

dependent on volunteers.

We thank Daniel, Lashawn, and Katie who are now moving on to other challenges. As with all volunteers at the Learning Center, the time spent in the Copey community and with the Learning Center students provides life-long memories and sense of accomplishments.

Katie and Lashawn

Katie and Lashawn

The good news is that Melody, our Emory & Henry College volunteer is now at the Learning Center to provide some much-needed assistance. I am waiting to hear about other potential volunteers who may be also on site.

Coming to America

The special fundraiser to help cover the expenses for the four travelers; Fatima, Adriana, Ana Yancy, and Angela is officially underway. We got off to a great start last week by

Tracking

receiving donations representing about 32% of our goal. What is unique about this specific fundraiser is that primarily only E&H College affiliated “Friends” requested to support the “Pathway Project”.

In 2016, only 23 requests were sent to only former graduates or other E&H College affiliated supporters. The goal was to have the very first “Pathway Project” completely funded by E&H College folks. These college “Friends” responded in great style and exceeded the goal by almost 60%. This spoke very highly of both the quality and worthiness of the “Pathway Project” and the great generosity of those connected to my college.

This year, the official request was sent again to 100% E&H College affiliated “Friends” and as anticipated, positive responses are arriving. In addition, a dear friend and brother in Honolulu has made a donation to the travel fund. So, this year we expect to have a mostly E&H funded “Pathway Project”. We have only two weeks left for the campaign and I trust we will have similar success as last year.

For the record, the “Pathway Project” is unique and not duplicated by any programs I am familiar with involving international students or exchange student programs. We are reaching deep into a rural community with very limited resources to provide another two high school students an academic related trip to an American college campus. The short and long-term impact on the lives of these students, their families, and the community are beyond measuring.

Next week, I will provide the second of four updates on our fundraising progress. So please keep a watchful eye.

The New Learning Center Update

As we all know, the official start of Stage 2 has not begun. It will start soon and likely in July. There are things going on behind the scenes even now. In keeping with my promise to continue providing some updates on this emerging project, consider the following.

At times I look back on old Posts. What I sometimes find is very surprising to me. First, the reality that we have come this far (many but not all of us) without much more than the identity of being “Friends”. I also find that we truly do move along with a lot of faith and dedication. I am surprised to see some of the quotes I selected and the titles of some of my Posts. Both of these seem to come at a time when I am really inspired or feeling very emotional.

I wrote a Post titled “Are You a Possiblitarian” on February 28, 2016. I never had used that term “Possiblitarian” before and I am not certain where it actually came from. However, it has remained with me along with the words that followed:Copey Learning Center Exterior Perspective View 001 (2).jpg                “My Friends, we are surely “Possiblitarians”. I enjoy the positive messages Dr. Norman Vincent Peale provided over the years. He encouraged “raising our sights and see possibilities-always see them for they’re always there.” 

The Learning Center along with “Friends” represent the thinking and imagination of “Possiblitarians”. You being a “Friend”, qualifies you as such.”

Who in their right mind would believe that a New Learning Center could be built in a small and rural town such as Copey, Costa Rica? The location, the distance, the financing, and a host of other obstacles all provide plenty reasons to take on far less demanding projects. The question regarding who would entertain such a project is a great question. The only possible answer is…a band of “Possiblitarians”.  You know…those people who dare to raise their sights and see possibilities! 

Back on February 28, 2016, I asked if you were a “Possiblitarian”? So far, the evidence based on our accomplishments suggest we are. Stay tuned!

 

 

 

Oh…To Reach Beyond!

“Vision – It reaches beyond the thing that is, into the conception of what can be. Imagination gives you the picture. Vision gives you the impulse to make the picture your own.”        by Robert Collier

Greetings my “Friends”. Wow…we are truly moving into the very active time of the year for us and for the Learning Center. In addition to the daily educational efforts being performed by some very talented volunteers at the Learning Center, there are a number of other activities under way which are exciting as well.

This is the week Melody will board the plane heading to San Jose where she will be met

town of copey

The Copey Community

by members of the Learning Center and transported to Copey. Upon arrival in Copey, she will be introduced to her new host family who will provide her both food and shelter for about 5 weeks. She will also meet the staff and the children as well as the community. Last week, we kicked off the official fund-raising efforts to support the travel costs for Fatima, Adriana, Ana Yancy, and Angela. I have called on my friends who are affiliated with Emory & Henry College to support this activity.

The Learning Center is experiencing newer and broader interest from within the Seidycountry. I am providing the Copey Learning Center’s Facebook link. There, you will find a couple Costa Rican television interviews (April 19th and April 4th) with Seidy Rodriguez. Seidy is the founder of the Learning Center. These television productions discuss the success of the Learning Center and reaches a very broad audience within the country. Look for Canal Altavision Video reference for the dates listed above.

https://www.facebook.com/pg/CopeyLC/posts/?ref=page_internal

To put this in perspective, a small rural community of 500 is now attracting the interest of television producers because of the work being done at the Learning Center. It is produced in Spanish so you will need to have your Spanish speaking skills up to date to get the full effect. However, please…please take the time to find out one way or another the message being provided. THIS is very important and will be very useful in our efforts to obtain funding for a new facility. You seldom have an opportunity to hear a member of the Copey community speak… this a great opportunity.

The New Learning Center Update

My intentions are to provide some information about the New Learning Center in several of the upcoming Posts. This week I want to share the vision we have for this new facility as we prepare to move this forward.

Under the current Learning Center concept, it is primarily an educational resource for the Copey community. Its vision is to help students learn English while fostering concepts in conservation, restoration, and recycling. This is aimed mostly at young students although some adults are also learning English.

The new and emerging vision of the New Learning Center plans to continue the original vision while it expands its interests in other related social and environmental areas. Subject to some modifications as we move along, the New Learning Center has 5 classrooms included in the current design. In conjunction with teaching English, we believe some space can be devoted to the development of a cultural resource center serving as a key destination point for neighbors around the region, throughout the country, and tourists visiting Costa Rica.

IMG_1434 (2)

There is interest having a facility that could accommodate “distant learning” opportunities using classroom space for students being taught post secondary courses by off-sight professors and instructors using Skype type technology.

Finally, the New Learning Center’s additional classroom space may also provide local economic opportunities as it attempts to develop interest in being the site for incubation initiatives related to “sustainable living” and “eco-tourism” concepts.

Once built, we all can envision that over time, the New Learning Center will have evolved into a multi-purpose facility serving the educational needs of a local and regional student population while becoming one of the key cultural centers for the region and maybe the country. And, the new facility is serving the Copey community by providing economic development opportunities while becoming the “Center of Excellence” for new “sustainable living” technologies.

Certainly, this is a “BIG” vision but each part is worthy of both consideration and effort. From my experience, Copey is a very special community with some extraordinary people willing to do the “BIG” stuff. As “Friends of Copey”, we should be all in on this one. Thanks to all.

 

 

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.

pathway images

“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

melody-lipford

Melody

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

One Road Less Traveled…!

“We are at our very best, and we are happiest when we are fully engaged in work we enjoy on the journey toward the goal we’ve established for ourselves. It gives meaning to our time off and comfort to our sleep. It makes everything else in life so wonderful, so worthwhile.”                                          by  Earl Nightingale

Some old and new “Friends” are still making donations to the Learning Center. We are blessed with generosity and especially the ongoing interest in the work being performed at the Learning Center. To me…it is simply a case of praying people praying…and the donors donating.

                        THANK YOU!

We are delayed in sending out personal “Thank You” messages to our many donors. So zzz CLC Students 5much is going on and the time just slips by each week. Please know that with your support there are kids in class who otherwise would be home missing out on some very important education.

New Facility Status!

The crucial question is to move on to Stage 2 or not to move! This is a very serious question and is paramount in our daily thoughts. I predict we will officially announce the final decision within the next few weeks. There is obvious support from Copey and I have various stateside supporters cheering us on. Some of these are potential donors. More specifically, “Friends” have been supportive as well. Thank you for your recent comments on the drawings and encouragement.

Perhaps you are asking why then the delay in the decision?  On the surface this may appear fairly simple to most. The amount to be raised to build the new Learning Center in the grand scheme of things may seem like not much. However, when you get deep into the nuts and bolts of this type of project, there are many parts and pieces needing to be addressed. Further complications arise since we are talking international versus domestic. Robert Frost referred to it as “the road less traveled”.

I am certainly willing to confront the many challenges, commitments, and time demands this will place on me personally. As you well know, “Friends of Copey” is not a formal organization with the traditional or conventional parts and pieces which drive its existence. We are a group of like-minded friends who share a common interest. We do not have bank accounts, investors, or even obligated supporters. In short, only a very few of us will have the burden of getting this ball over the goal line once started while most will by design have the luxury of standing off in a distance watching this all move along successfully or unsuccessfully…hopefully watching and praying to be precise. So, please stay tuned in and let’s see how this all unfolds.

 

usa-student-selectee-1

Fatima

In other news, I congratulate Angela (prior Executive Director) on her successful trip to Ireland where she recently led a 50

usa-student-selectee

Adriana

member choir group on a musical tour. We are still hopeful Angela will be able to join the Copey students heading to Emory & Henry College in June. She is a real veteran traveler and leader.

 

The selected Copey students are busy getting their passports and other travel preparations taken care of. Hopefully, this will all go smoothly. We look forward to these young special ladies arriving in the USA and sharing their stories about life in Costa Rica and especially the small community of Copey. We pray all goes well.