Past Sadness…Future Hope!

“Hope lies in dreams, in imagination, and in the courage of those who dare to make dreams into reality.”    By  Jonas Salk

Monday morning on August 7, 2017,  I learned about the unfortunate event that took place the night before in Copey. That Monday morning, in that wonderful community of Copey, the towns people gathered in disbelief and sorrow as they could see in the daylight, the total devastation of their beloved church. Church before

This iconic landmark sitting in the center of the community since 1928  touched every family in one way or another.

Now after two years, the remnants of the fire destruction are still visible and present. Nothing has been rebuilt and the Holy site continues to be a painful reminder to all.

Residents alone cannot afford to rebuild due to local economic challenges within the community. Then, the Catholic Church’s heirarchy may not see rebuilding the church to be a high priority.  And, Copey has only limited political influence available to push or support their interest.  These are all contributing factors resulting in delays and ongoing rebuilding uncertainties. Church after

We observe the second year anniversary of this tragic event. And, we (Friends of Copey) continue our support for the community and strive to be one of their consistent sourceS of “good news and hope”.

The current facility being used for the Copey Learning Center also faces future uncertainty. The facility is owned by the community group who loans the space to the Copey Learning Center. The facility may be shut down for rennovations in the near future. This closure will cause the Copey Learning Center to move without any suitable facility in Copey without the need for some constructional changes or improvements.

We “Friends” have not lost the vision of a new Copey Learning Center. We still believe we can get the new center built one day. We only postponed our efforts to avoid competing with the community’s effort to rebuild their church. The community wants their own “House of Worship” and they want their own educational facility to educate their children. However, this presents the community with a very difficult dilemma. Copey Learning Center Exterior Perspective View 001 (2)

The question has been asked…can one facility serve both religious and educational needs?

The response is a resounding NO! According to my information, a rebuilt Catholic Church and property would be essentially owned by the Catholic hierarchy… and not owned by the local community. There is a strong disinterest in placing the Copey Learning Center under the control of the Catholic Church.

Today, “Friends of Copey” pauses to reflect on the loss of this historical site in Copey which meant so much to the community. Soon, we start dreaming again about a new Copey Learning Center…the “promise of brighter futures” for this community full of hope.

“Let’s dream, Let’s imagine, Let’s hope and have the courage to achieve!”

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Serving Children Partnership…!”

“In my life I’ve learned that true happiness comes from giving. Helping others along the way makes you evaluate who you are.       By  Marla Gibbs

On August 30th, I will have my annual opportunity to provide a “Friends of Copey” presentation to my Kiwanis Club, Tri-Cities Industry (TCI-Kiwanis).

As a TCI member, this is a special time afforded me to share, honor, and thank the club’s membership for supporting the work of the “Friends of Copey”.Kiwanis Logo

Kiwanis, an international/global organization with a 100 plus year history, is a natural partner for “Friends of Copey”.  The organization’s purpose is to improve the world by making lasting and positive differences in the lives of children.

Kiwanis volunteers working in over 7,000 clubs all over the world perform over 150,000 projects and nearly $100 million (US) annually to support communities worldwide serving children, one child and one community at a time. Copey is an international community being served by the “TCI Kiwanis and Friends of Copey” partnership. TCI Kiwanis’ support is important. Nearly 40% of the total TCI Kiwanis’ membership are “Friends” making personal donations to the scholarship fund, the Executive Director salary, and the “Pathway Project”.

At the club level, the TCI Kiwanis Foundation provides quality accounting services for the “Pathway Project” making it very easy for donors to participate and provides full accountability of the funds.  Kiwanis Logo.1

This partnership places TCI Kiwanis among the elite Kiwanis Clubs (in my opinion) in America. Most Kiwanis Clubs limit their support to their own community needs. A fewer number of Kiwanis Clubs in America provide the direct and personal hands-on support of a specific need in another country on an ongoing basis.

TCI Kiwanis voted “Friends of Copey” to be an officially accepted project three years ago. As a TCI Kiwanis Past President and active member, my affiliation with “Friends of Copey” is unique. The involvement of other TCI Kiwanis members and the support of the TCI Foundation are both important elements of this partnership. But, the support from TCI Kiwanis goes even further.

Jefferson Elementary Pen Pal

Jefferson Elementary School, Richland WA

TCI Kiwanis Club supports a local elementary school with the Kiwanis K-Kids Program. This program allows for interaction between Jefferson Elementary students and Copey Learning Center students via Skype technology.

All these forms of TCI Kiwanis activities extend the club beyond the norm according to my personal assessment.  I am looking forward to the presentation with great excitement.

“Friends” are spread throughout the USA and in other countries. Support your local Kiwanis Club and please feel free to send a note of thanks to TCI Kiwanis for their support and partnership. I will glady include your message in my TCI Kiwanis presentation. 

Want a Vacation?

Go to beautiful Copey, Costa Rica! The Copey Learning Center is eagerly searching for the right candidates to help finish the final three months of this school year. Looking for a Poster for Volunteers.1“crash course” in a different culture and language? Feeling adventurous and want to just do something just outrageous? Want to make a huge difference in a child’s life or even a huge difference in a community? Here is an opportunity to give…but you may learn that you are the one who is receiving the most.

I began my involvement with the Copey Learning Center by considering a volunteer teaching job in 2011 and 2012. I came very close but something extraordinary happened. The magic of the Copey community will move you to enjoly the love of serving. Think about a 90 day vacation and let me know soon. The need is now and the rewards are waiting.

Final Word…!

Thank you for the comments sent regarding the recent loss of home by fire Megan and her family experienced. They are getting a lot of support but they lost a great deal. “Friends” has provided some financial assistance.

Lately, I have realized failing to communicate much about the wonderful E&H College students who have volunteered to go to Copey. I would not have met Megan, or her sister and mother without Megan’s involvement in the “Pathway Project”. Megan volunteered to leave the comforts of her life, her family, and friends. By doing so, she gave much of herself and made a difference in the lives of kids in Copey.

Kara Stewart.1

Kara Stewart

I tend to focus mostly on the Copey students who travel to the US and perhaps not enough focus on the students who go to Copey.

However, each of the E&H College students who have journeyed to Copey have been very special students and have been outstanding representatives of the culture and caliber of students at E&H College.  Megan is certainly among this group.

And, we continue to keep a watchful eye on Kara Stewart, a 2018 E&H College student volunteer. Since her return from Copey in 2018, she has continued to be a high spirited superstar. I am just so impressed!

Best wishes to them all. 

Looking Beyond the Sorrow…!

“Don’t lose hope…when the sun goes down, the stars come out!”   

People in Need of Prayers!

It is very hard today to be upbeat and positive while we attempt to withstand the ongoing news of senseless murders perpetrated on innocent people who appear to have little to no connection to the shooters. Prayers to all the families, friends, and communities who are directly impacted by this evil behavior.

Additionally, I received news this weekend that one of our Emory & Henry College 2019 Pathway Project students had a very serious misfortune. Megan Mitten, her sister CLC Volunteer PicTheresa, and mother lost their home and all belongings due to a house fire last Wednesday.

Megan was at the Copey Learning Center last Spring as a volunteer. I met Megan, her sister and their mother during the annual reception held this past June. Both Megan and Theresa are E&H College students and I consider the whole family to be special to “Friends of Copey”. The college is assisting the family and are welcoming any help available. “Friends of Copey” will donate some funds to the family.

I will try to continue getting updates on Megan and her family while they work on rebuilding their lives and taking care of some of their basic needs for living.

Pathway Project 2019 Summary

As promised for several weeks, I want officially pronounce the closing 2019 Pathway Project for 2019. The project involving the students from Copey has three essential parts.

First and foremost the first part is to reward two or three Copey Learning Center students for their academic success and especially their English skills development. The reward is a safe and educational trip to America. So, eligible students must be selected.Pathway Students

The second part, “Friends of Copey” must raise the funds required for the planned expenses associated with travel, food, and lodging.

And finally, there are numerous other unfunded costs along with personal time and involvement that must be covered and coordinated. It is estimated that in-kind support almost equals the funded portion of the project.

Therefore, in summary the 2019 Pathway Project depends on very generous donors and extemely committed supporters for all of this to work and work well. Everyone is just “AMAZING” and all can enjoy the feeling of success and accomplishment. This is our 4th year and it feels like our best year as organizers and coordinators.

I have tried to send special notes of thanks to all of you who were on the front line of this effort. If I overlooked you, please let me know and I will be in touch with you.

thank you

My thoughts and attention are already pointed to next year’s Pathway Project. Most of the team has already conveyed and confirmed their involvement in key areas.

There is always room for one more donor of funds or contributor of time and service. One thing to seriously keep in mind is your attendance at next year’s annual reception. It is well worth attending and meeting the Copey students and other “Friends or Copey”.  For several of the first-timers this year, I know they enjoyed every minute.

So, please accept my heartfelt thanks as we all look forward now to 2020 Pathway Project.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Always Do Your Best…!

“Start by doing what’s necessary; then do what’s possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible.”   by  Francis of Assisi

Major Milestone!

Three hundred weeks have passed since the very first Post was issued in mid-December 2013. Last week, I issued Post number 300 to “Friends” and the tracking data verifies this fact. This is a major achievement on several levels.BEv Binders 

Who writes letters to their friends each week for more than five years? Well, I have and I can assure you each Post has been written and published with joy, honor, and respect towards all “Friends”. I hope you will celebrate with me this week as I pause to ponder this small milestone.

I thank all “friends” who opened the very first Post issued in 2013 and are still around to open #300. Truthfully, many “friends” have moved on and are not following the Posts each week. It is human nature to move on. But be sure, I am deeply grateful for those first “friends” and those who joined in later. You all have helped to keep this project alive and meaningful.

Help the Copey Learing Center

Last week I informed “friends” about the need to recruit a new Executive Director for the Copey Learning Center. Interesting enough, a few of you have sent notes to me. I encourage you to continue considering the potential this could be for a very unique experience.

Also, I learned this week the Copey Learning Center is recruiting volunteer teachers toESL Qualificaitoncover the final three months of this school year; September, October, and November. So, I am calling for teachers (including retired teachers) to go to Copey and have the experience of a lifetime. This is an excellent opportunity to build your resume and develop/enhance language skills highlighting the Central American culture. And, if you are retired and want to add one more star in your career in education… go and enjoy some simple life…“pura-vida”.  

Time is very short so if there is an interest in leading or teaching…we must move quickly. September is just around the corner.

New Copey Learning Center PhotoCopey…The Amazing Community.

Those who have actually spent time in Copey had these things to say:

“This entire experience [in Copey] has had such an impact on my life that I am forever grateful for. I made so many memories, met so many people, made so many new friends, saw God at work, and felt Him working in me.  I will forever cherish my time spent in the sweet, quaint, beautiful, peaceful, little town of Copey, and I will look forward to when I can go back! Thank you for everything, Copey.”  Kara S.

“When Arthur asked me to write something about our experience at the Copey Learning Center I didn’t know if I could put my feelings into words. I could use words like amazing, unforgettable, memorable, remarkable, and extraordinary, but it was so much more!”  Carolyn J.

“Copey will always hold a special place in our hearts.  Thank you for the wonderful opportunity! We will always cherish the memories made and the wonderful friends we made while visiting Copey.”  Tamarie M.

“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 R.

“Pura Vida”

 

 

 

 

Change Agents…Possibilitarians!

“Nobody can go back and start a new beginning, but anyone can start today and make a new ending.”     By  Maria Robinson

Changes At the Copey Learning Center

The Copey Learning Center is experiencing some changes as it continues to be a very unique educational center focused on English education. This very small community has defied the odds of failure as the Copey Learning Center has survived for over a decade with the bare minimum of viable physical and financial resources. The one thing that is in abundance is the community-wide commitment and devotion to providing students better choices in life. The key to these choices revolves around developing English speaking, reading, and writing skills. Copey Learning Center Ad.1

In the beginning the Copey Learning Center depended totally on the support provided by Peace Corps teachers who frequently volunteered for one or two year assignments.

They served as teachers and also performed some duties of the Executive Director, a position requiring pay the center could not afford.

“Friends of Copey”

In 2015, following “Friends of Copey’s” first year of scholarship support, the Copey Center’s Board of Directors decided the long term success of the center would require the services of aCLC Students.10 paid Executive Director (ED). “Friends” was asked to support this new “change” in direction. Beginning in 2015, “Friends” has supplemented the annual salary for the ED.

Would You Serve?

The departure of the current ED, Andrea has been announced as she has accepted a new position…another change.

Previous ED Ana Yancy has been returned as the interim ED until November unless Andrea’s replacement is hired prior to November.

We are posting the call for a qualified ED to lead the Copey Learning Center. Over the years several “Friends” with exceptional experience and qualifications expressed their Jane 5interest in working at the center.

Therefore, I agreed to do some USA recruitment on behalf of the Copey Learning Center. Perhaps, someone would consider a short or long term commitment to take advantage of this very unusual opportunity. Or, perhaps someone has friends or colleagues in the educational community who may be attracted to this opportunity.  

“Making a Difference”

Almost to a person, “Friends” who have been devoted and committed to this most unusual project have been “difference makers”. I often refer to these dedicated friends as possibilitarians…believing no matter how dark things seem to be or actually are, possiblitarians raise their sights and see the possibilities — always see them, for they’re always there.success

This is not to say anything is dark…on the contrary. This is an opportunity to take the center to another level. And, being a die-hard possibilitarian myself, I believe there just may be a potential candidate among “Friends” who will at least investigate the opportunity to lead the Copey Learning Center.  Let me know!

New Arrival!

The Barnard family (Huckleberry) has had a very busy summer. Carol witnessed her only daughter Amie marry a wonderful young man (Aaron) on June 26 and just hours ago Carol became a grandmother for the second time thanks to her younger son Adam and Kayla. We all welcomed in baby girl…Haven Marie Huckleberry at 12:29 today.

Congrats to all!

 

 

 

 

 

Be A Good Neighbor…!

“Geography has made us neighbors. History has made us friends. Economics has made us partners, and necessity has made us allies. Those whom God has so joined together, let no man put asunder. ”   By  John F. Kennedy

“Making Neighbors!

Just the other day I was forwarded a link featuring a story about The Pathway Project, the great partnership between our college and Copey, and my personal involvement. The title of the story is “The Man Who Made Emory & Henry College and Costa Rica Neighbors” authored by Monica Hoel. She has held the position of Alumni Director for E&H College for nearly 30 years.

My hat is off to the college for continuing to show such a strong interest and desire to support this project. Having our story told in such a quality fashion along with the opportunity to reach so many people, is greatly appreciated. I highly recommend you checking out this link:   https://www.ehc.edu/live/news/877.Monica Hoel.1

Note: The link above also has a link to a recent radio broadcast covering the Pathway Project. 

Monica is one of those extraordinary human fixtures you will find on the E&H College campus. She is so good at her work that much success is taken for granted. Or worse, Monica’s accomplishments often are unknown or unnoticed. This is very typical of those who tackle a task first with their heart, then their head. She is fun and dedicated. She really cares about students and perceives each student as a future E&H College alumni. And, she is very engaged from start to finish with the Pathway Project.

During the “Annual Reception” held for the visiting Copey students back in June, I made the following comment about Monica in my short speech; “if I had to explain to anyone what it means to have the heart of a servant…I would have them personally meet Monica”. She is truly such a person. And, she is joined by others on campus who also work wonders for the Pathway Project.

The Copey Learning Center Reopens

The Learning Center has been on a two week mid-year vacation and teaching will resume this week. There has not been much of a vacation on my end. Each year the Pathway Project requires some closeout activities to be attended to. I look forward to issuing the final news and results of the Pathway Project next week. Pathway display

I also plan to make some special announcements next week about the Copey Learning Center.

And, a presentation is scheduled with my Kiwanis Club in late August. The membership will hear about this year’s 2019 Pathway Project and I will include a picture board depicting all four years of the Pathway Project. There will be a couple other items to show and this should be a real fun time of sharing.

I am always ready to do a presentation if any nearby “Friends” have a school, church, or club this may interest.

“Friends make the best neighbors!”

 

 

 

 

 

Being Compassionate…Investing

“The failure to invest in youth reflects a lack of compassion and a colossal failure of common sense.”     By Coretta Scott King

The Copey Learning Center is on a two week vacation at this time so there is very little information to report on from there.

In other news, we are still excited over the recent 2019 Pathway Project as I have begun to officially bring everything to a close.

Since the dust has settled and activities have slowed down considerably, it occured to me these 2019 Pathway Students have been involved with the Learning Center for several years. I have practically watched them grow since “Friends of Copey” began in late 2013.

Looking back over the photos I have collected and have shared with you, I thought I would share some of them again. These photos are of Mariana who has been attending the Learning Center for several years.

 

mariana-3    20151015_142508   Mariana FabrianaSpelling Bee Candidates

Some of you will also remember how successful Mariana was as a Spelling Bee participant. Each year of competition she would move closer and closer to becoming a 1st place winner on the national level. There are many of these success stories since we have been closely watching many Copey students grow and develop over the years.

The 2019 Pathway Project was very exciting and rewarding as many of you actually met Mariana and saw up close what a wonderful young lady she has become. She exudes so much confidence and maturity. Group Photo

I also have old photos of the two other Pathway students dating back a few years. Dayana and Jimena, similar to Mariana were so young when they began their English education and also have become very excellent young students.

Thank you for helping these students, for being compassionate, and for investing in their future as they become confident and amazing young folks.