Women Campaign to Improve the Community

Fundacion de Amazonas was founded about 6 years ago, and its original goal was to provide shelter and employment opportunities for battered women.

The project was established by Nataly Valdos, who named the organization “Amazonas” as recognition for the fact that historically, women have shown strength, resolve, and capability in situations where such characteristics were beneficial.

Working with women in the community to acquire the resources necessary to initiate and expand the program from a concept to a reality, Nataly found several people eager to assist her in achieving her goal.

What better time than October to recognize the altruistic efforts of Nataly and women like her, because this month is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. BCAM is an annual global campaign by major breast cancer charities, all of which seek to increase awareness of the disease and to raise funds for research into its cause, prevention, diagnosis, treatment and cure.

It also stresses the importance of annual screening to detect the presence of the disease early, thus allowing treatment to occur before the situation becomes a major crisis.

Nataly is a cancer survivor herself; she’s 58 years old, and has been undergoing cancer treatment for the last 4 years.

In keeping with the moniker “Amazonas,” Nataly has shown her strength and resolve in maintaining the program to provide opportunities for women to find work that gives them a sense of accomplishment and simultaneously satisfies a need in the community of which they are a part. She refuses to let her own difficulties deter her from providing the essential service that is so meaningful to her, and so helpful to others.

Nataly met a friend through the Ensenada chapter of Companeros Asociacion Civil, a local partnership of people who meet to focus on, and attempt to resolve, issues within the community.

Together, they envisioned an opportunity for women to work by learning to use sewing machines to manufacture clothing and accessories which they could then sell as a means of supporting themselves.

Nataly and her friend, along with other women who joined their cause, solicited funds from the community to purchase the machines, along with the materials and accessories necessary to begin their projects and to embark upon a newly found sense of worthiness and independence.

These women, who had suffered physical and sexual abuse, neglect, domestic violence, and financial insecurity were now able to support themselves in a manner which gave them a sense of pride and accomplishment, while at the same time teaching them a new skill and fulfilling a need within their community.

Initially, the idea was to simply make clothes and sell them.

Eventually, the ladies realized that besides engaging in a sort of “retail” activity, they could assist other members of the community by providing clothing to children in orphanages and schools.

In that way, they themselves became benefactors, graduating from people in need to people now in a position to help others in need.

Their work has been gratefully received by the children, who look sharp and feel proud in wearing garments that are clean, new and stylish, clothing which was made specifically for them.

As with any charity during the Covid-19 crisis, Nataly and her organization needs donations and volunteers to continue the community service which she and her friends so unselfishly provide.

Please search for her timeline on Facebook under “Fundacion Amazonas de Ensenada” and offer whatever help you can to make life a little better for these women, who in turn make life better for struggling children and others in need.

Thank you for your support!

Bomberos Need Your Help

Baja is deep into its annual fire season, and as in every year in recent history, brave firefighters are in need of help from the public. The first major fundraising event of the year, Valle en la Playa, was held in the gardens of Castillos del Mar Hotel and Resort in September, with all funds going to help Rosarito’s firefighters through the Pro Firefighters Board. This was a “must-attend” meeting, even with respect to Covid-19 social distancing. Thanks to event organizer Martha Dominguez for granting me last-minute press coverage as a representative of this periodical.

Valle en la Playa 2020 was held with COVID safety elements firmly in place: tables, widely spaced, had seating reduced from 10 or 12 guests per table in past events to six; servers and guests were temperature-tested and hand-sanitized prior to entry, and masks were worn by all when not seated at tables.

Valle de Guadalupe wineries in attendance were La Cetto, Al Ximia, Corona del Valle, Santo Tomas, and Vinos de Casa Emiliana, aka “VE.” The Rosarito Tourism Board was also set up to announce that Rosarito is still open for visitors from the North as well as other Mexican cities. “We want to create a different impression of Rosarito,” declared Paul Corona, Emcee of the event. “We are more than Papas and Beer.”

Small monthly events, to be held at different venues, are planned to continue to raise money for the Rosarito Fire Department. Three-course meals, following pandemic safety protocols, will be held at various Rosarito establishments, with proceeds going to local firefighters.

Proceeds from the evening’s tickets were donated to the Pro Fire Fighters Board towards the purchase of a special drone with a thermal camera to allow firefighters to view and better plan their firefighting efforts before entering dangerous areas.

Rosarito proper is not the only area needing to help their Bomberos. La Mision firefighters, who serve areas such as Santa Anita and Alisito, are community volunteers that spend much of their own money on uniforms, firefighting equipment and gasoline. Fire boots have been set up as collection jars at Del Valle Café, Shorty’s vet shop (across from Magana’s), Splash, and Kraken, to gather funds to go toward gasoline and other necessities. Please throw a handful of pesos in them when you visit. The firefighters will be there for you when the need arises.

Currently the firefighters of La Mision are renting space in a nearby building, but a new fire station is being designed by students at the University of Ensenada as a permanent installation. Future plans include training by certified trainers in Baja. These newly trained firefighters will return and train others.

The La Mision Rotary is very active in helping out the firefighters in the extreme southern area of Rosarito, and the “doorway” to the Valle de Guadalupe. Of number one importance is money for gasoline for the fire engines, trucks and support vehicles. Also needed are four Scott air tanks with straps, Indian (or like-brand) collapsible backpack sprayers, as much of the firefighting is “gorilla” style. Also needed are firefighter gloves, suspenders, and boots of varying sizes.

Several Rotarians have contacts that can help with the purchases, so cash donations are of utmost importance. If you have contacts that could help firefighters, please contact Sunny Crowley at [email protected] The official Bomberos Facebook page is www.facebook.com/groups/507783403257151.

We can all help our local firefighters when called upon through social media to purchase cases of water, or help make sandwiches to be delivered to firefighters on the line.

Baja Community Benefits Farmworkers

Debra Blake and Carol Woodruff are among the many expats working with the local community to improve the living standards for everyone.

Their group, “Feeding Farmworkers’ Families,” focuses on those  whose arduous labor provides sustenance not only for their neighbors, but also for communities outside the local area.

It all began about 41/2 – 5 years ago. Debra Blake joined a small group of volunteers, spearheaded by Barbara Bridge and Patty Rodriguez to offer an opportunity to provide some basic education, with an emphasis on English-language instruction, to the children of the farmworkers.

The volunteers hoped that once the kids were comfortable speaking some English, they could overcome their shyness regarding Gringos, and be more confident in seeking to communicate and collaborate with them; in this way, both the people from El Norte and the natives of Baja would benefit by employment options and through sharing the history and the traditions of both cultures.

The current school is very spartan, consisting of only a concrete foundation and a roof, a simple structure with no walls, having evolved to that point from teaching the kids who sat on blankets in the open air.

The boys and girls were naturally eager to have an opportunity to improve their opportunities through education, and of course their parents welcomed the chance to see their children broaden their horizons.

The school, “Escuela en Las Lomas,” quickly grew from a few families to 40 to 90 students, primarily the children of 30 Oaxacan farm worker families with whom the founding group of volunteers developed strong relationships of trust, great expectations, and hope for a brighter future. Unfortunately, the pandemic has forced the closure of this project.

The farmworkers who are the focus of the group’s efforts are very poor. Some of them live in homes provided by various church groups, but many others live with extended families in plywood and black plastic shacks with dirt floors. About half of the 30 families have no electricity, and none have running water.

Their homes, marginal as they are, can only be reached by a dirt road that is impassable during wet weather.

Prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, the families were already very poor, working hard in austere conditions to earn a meager $8 – $10 per day per person.

The pandemic very quickly resulted in the closing of schools, restaurants and other institutions dependent upon the produce that the farmworkers provided, thus reducing demand for their output by more than half.

This caused layoffs, which made an already needy community even more insecure; some families could not even afford to provide themselves with basic necessities, including food.

The food delivery program began in mid-April of this year; Carol and Debra expected (“hoped” is a better word) that the situation would be short-lived. Of course, that has not been the case.

The need for assistance to these struggling families continues to this  day.

Carol and Debra obtained the despensa (“pantry”) guidelines from DIF (Desarrollo Integral de la Familia) in April and began to procure and distribute full allotments of rice, beans, lentils, sugar, eggs, milk, oil, oatmeal, canned vegetables, tomato sauce, pasta, tuna, and other basic nutritional needs every two weeks to the families in their care.

Eva’s Garden (a local organic grower/distributor) contributes an assortment of fresh, organic veggies.

In addition to food supplies, they are able to provide sanitary products from a regular donor who purchases them from Costco and donates them to the families through this team.

Carol says, “Our donors are families and friends. The Punta Banda community has been very generous.”

As schools remained closed due to the Covid crisis, Debra and Carol became aware that the children were in need of structured activities and materials that stimulated them to become more involved in learning.

To that end, Barbara Bridge provided the students with homework, which they actually loved; it gave them an opportunity to reinforce what they had learned in a classroom setting, such as writing and math skills.

The older students are given supplemental worksheets from LaRousse Publishing, the results of which are collected by Debra and Carol, who provide feedback and award stickers to reward the kids’ efforts.

Each child learns at his or her own pace, depending on individual capability and eagerness about a given subject. Age/grade levels are not relevant in such an environment; each child’s willingness to learn dictates how fast he or she will progress.

More recently, FFF provided a mobile library, which now has 75 books in Spanish, with more on the way. The kids are so grateful for this additional opportunity to grow and learn that they have proven themselves responsible by returning the books so that they may check out others.

Some of them are already on their 3rd book in as many weeks.

Beba ‘Cosmo,’ who teaches Early Childhood Education at Alocalo University, selected and provided the books. Beba is the owner of the popular Punto en el Cosmos Restaurant in Maneadero.

Other notables who have generously given their support to FFF prep and delivery operations are Hideyo Hirada, Chris Blake, Gary Woodruff, and Kathleen Estay.

Pris Austin of Los Adoptables in Maneadero adopts and treats the sick animals that the group sometimes encounters on their travels in the hills.

As Carol says, “It takes a village, and so many people have contributed in different ways.”

The next project underway is a collaboration with Baja Networks (Carlos Munguia) to install solar panels and a microwave receiver in an empty casita in the area without electric service; this will provide internet access to families and allow kids to attend classes via tv.

If you would like to make a donation to help our community to thrive, the FFF PayPal pool is https://paypal.me/pools/c/8oDfwG0bVK. Clothing and shoe donations suitable for hill terrain, non-perishable food, and school supplies are needed and would be greatly appreciated. Contact Debra Blake or Carol Woodruff via Facebook.

Bringing Children and Horses Together In Our Community

In the course of one’s lifetime, the people who have the most significant and lasting impact on us (besides the parents) may be a nurse, a first responder, or even a teacher or professor.

The reason that’s true is because people who enter into such enterprises do so not out of a desire to become wealthy in a material way, but rather to enrich the lives of those with whom they interact, thereby making their own lives more meaningful and rewarding.

Case in point is Dawn Stephens, who grew up in a family that valued horses as companions. Her family lived in Burbank and had a ranch outside of Bakersfield, where horses roamed freely. In that environment, she learned to ride them and care for them, doing the hard work necessary to ensure that their health and sense of physical well-being were consistently and adequately attended to.

Her interaction with these magnificent creatures was temporarily interrupted when she decided to pursue a higher education.

She attended UC Davis, later studying Sport & Exercise Psychology at the University of New Mexico, finally earning her Doctorate in the same subject from UC Berkeley.

From there, she became a Professor at the University of Iowa.

When the time came for Dawn to give back to the parents who had so lovingly cared for her as a child, she suggested that the family move to Mexico. Where they could retire and reap the benefits of the casual lifestyle and Mediterranean weather that makes Mexico such a desirable destination for so many Americans when life tells them it’s time for a change.

So they came, but little did they know that retirement was simply not in the cards for Dawn.

She began to notice almost immediately that horses, once a source of inspiration, healthy exercise, and interaction with nature back in Bakersfield, were sometimes neglected or abused in her new environment.

Dawn made up her mind to prepare and maintain a sanctuary for the creatures in need, and, with her partner, Tina Jo, co-founded Tina Jo’s Promise in Punta Banda, a rich agricultural region southwest of Ensenada.

The pair have, over the years, procured 3 1-acre lots in PB, where the horses are cared for. In many cases, the horses are sick, malnourished, and frightened when brought to the sanctuary. The actions of Dawn and Tina Jo ensure that rather than being condemned to death, they are nurtured, loved, and meticulously cared for.

Her work is arduous but rewarding. She attends auctions where horses are being sold and often has to outbid meat buyers, who would use the animals as a source of protein in dog food.

Dawn has names for each of the horses, many of which are taken from the classic novel, To Kill a Mockingbird. One of the beautiful creatures is named “Atticus Finch,” and another is “Harper” (after Harper Lee in the novel). Her very first rescue, however, was named Lover Boy.

Her operation is massive and expensive and is primarily dependent on public donations in order to provide the nutrition, grooming, veterinarian care and all the equipment necessary to maintain such an optimistic enterprise.

Her altruistic nature now goes beyond caring for horses.

She is active in the support of Baja Love Outreach, an enterprise that provides support for 10 orphanages in the region.

One of the many benefits she provides to the community of orphans is bringing the kids to her ranch to ride the horses or simply to pet them and enjoy the wide-open spaces outside the confines of their crowded institutions. These activities help the kids to heal from abuse or physical injuries,

Seeing the positive impact upon the children whose interactions with the animals brought them such joy, Dawn began to envision a dream whereby her efforts to improve the lives of these young orphans would ensure that their lives would be made more valuable once they were no longer wards of the system.

As she so wisely observed, “What happens to these kids when they turn 18? They are sent away from the orphanage with no further assistance. What are their prospects? Sell drugs? Enter into a life of prostitution? Work forever in an unrewarding and low-paying job, if they’re fortunate enough to find one?”

Baja Love Outreach has provided 2 cargo ship containers and had them placed on her property; these units will provide the basic structures to be modified into classrooms where the kids can come to learn skills allowing them to become proficient in a chosen profession to support them long after they leave the orphanages.

She has the wherewithal to send surveys to the kids to ascertain their interests, so that she can provide the training in the fields that interest them most.

Once she knows what the children are drawn to, she will provide training in those areas of expertise.

For example, she will provide vocational-type training for construction skills, mechanical work, computer skills, welding, sewing, etc. Some adults who are already proficient in those areas have already volunteered to provide the training.

She currently has a hydroponic fodder machine on the property.

Future plans include the development of aquaponics units; first, a large one for the ranch, then later smaller ones to be placed at each orphanage.

Aquaponics is a symbiotic system whereby live fish are nourished and the waste they accumulate is turned into bacteria, providing nourishment in the form of fertilizer to sustain a garden, which in the process of photosynthesis returns safe water to the fish.

Dawn’s vision is reflected in this statement on her website: “My religion is kindness.”

The magnitude of her love for children and for animals is awe-inspiring. By bringing them together, she improves the lives and future prospects for both.

She can’t do it alone, however. She is currently engaged in a fund-raiser to make sure that the horses have enough hay for the winter. She says that now is the time when hay is sold at the lowest price, and she would like to purchase enough of it to last one year for the animals in her care.

It costs $650 per month to provide food for the horses. If only 25 people donated $25 each per month, their most basic needs would be covered. A donation of $150 for the year by each of 50 people would help Dawn and Tina Jo provide a quality life for the horses that have thrived under their care. Their goal is to raise a total of $7,500.00 to feed the horses for a year.

Please consider making a donation to help this altruistic enterprise to continue and to grow.

Also, check out Dawn’s personal FB timeline to see the many testimonials to her loving care for both children and animals.

For more videos and photos of the heartwarming efforts on behalf of the young people and the horses, see Tina Jo’s Promise, also on FB.

Most importantly, please donate! Any amount is greatly appreciated, and will go a long way to ensure the longevity, success, and growth of this most energetic and charitable enterprise.

You can make your donation through PayPal at [email protected]; or click on “save a life” or “adopt a horse.” You can make a one-time donation, or a monthly recurring one.

It’s a 501(c)3 organization, so any donation you make is tax-deductible by the IRS.

And remember, their mission is “to end the suffering of abused, unwanted and neglected equines and to improve the quality of their lives.”

Obviously, to help them grow is to improve the quality of life for the community at large, and by making life better for children and for animals, a better society overall is ensured.

Plans to Renovate Binational Park on the Border Launched

BY JACKIE BARSHAK

“Build That Park” organizers launched a 12-month long public education and design development campaign to raise awareness and solicit input for a proposed bi-national park along the Mexican/U.S. border, where California meets Baja along the Pacific.

Hugging the boundary of the wall in Tijuana, the site is home to Friendship Park and the binational garden of native plants, which serves as a gathering site for a community advocating unrestricted access to both sides of the border. To the north, on the very southwestern corner of the U.S., 1.5 miles south of San Diego, a wildlife refuge inside Border Field State Park forms the perimeter to the other side of the border wall. On these and other expanded sites, including the bull ring to the south in Tijuana, chief architect James Brown envisions a park embodying values of peace, friendship, cooperation and security.

During the year-long design phase, input will be solicited from stakeholders, community activists, artists, designers, grassroots organizers and first nations people. Engagement with the public is key to formulating conceptual design plans that will be unveiled on August 18, 2021, the day marking the 50th anniversary of Friendship Park.

Building parks in cities sharing frontiers has historical precedent. At the US/Canada border crossing, green lawns and flowering gardens of Peace Arch Park, straddling British Columbia and Washington State, gives rise to a dramatic white arch, a symbol of peace, honoring the peace treaty that ended the War of 1812. On the Mexican border, the white stone border marker in Tijuana’s Friendship Park stands as a monument to the end of the 1848 U.S. Mexican war and the signing of The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo. “The terms of that treaty have relevance to building a park on the border today”, said James Brown, “reciprocal benefit, cooperation and security for both countries outlined in that historical treaty are the values guiding the new park design”.

The design process will draw on a peoples’ history and the collection of personal stories woven into a visionary plan for the park. There will be international competitions for the design of vertical gardens, outdoor event spaces, interpretive centers with conference rooms, trolley terminals and pedestrian walkways, among other structures proposed in the building plans.

Spanning the two frontiers, the binational garden will encompass an expanded area, with greater opportunities to link shared ecosystems divided today by artificial political boundaries. Binational cooperation of the landscape will enhance control of exotic invasive plants and restoration of native flora. “After 15 years of working in the garden”, said Daniel Watman, founder of the binational garden, “and dreaming that some day the garden would outgrow the walls and end militarization, I’m ecstatic about the prospect of expanding native flora across barriers to bring people together and form collaborations that will improve the region we share”.

The fate of two countries sharing a border are linked. A binational park on the Mexico/U.S. border can serve as a model and living symbol of peace between the two nations, exemplifying what can be achieved through cooperation and collaboration.

Visit www.buildthatpark.org for more information about the project and to learn how you can help.

They Thought They Could Do it and They Did!

In my travels I have never experienced a community so involved in helping one another old/young, native/foreigner, human/animal…as Rosarito, and the communities at its borders.

One such group is Mujeres Para Mujeres (Women for Women), established March 16, 2018. About 50 ladies attended the inaugural gathering and continue to meet on the 8th of every even-numbered month with “Potlucks for a Purpose.” The times and days of the week vary in order to allow everyone  to attend, allowing for those who may have monthly meetings at scheduling conflicts.

I met with Board members Carol Council, Mary Contreras, Valerie Russell, and Barbara Acosta for an update of how the organization was progressing. These four met about a year ago in an effort to find ways that women could share their talents and skills and empower other women. The goal was to be of service and support “with” people, not “at” people; creating and extending relationships for a better community. “More can be helped if more become involved.”

They explained that Women for Women is a multicultural organization dedicated to “meeting the needs of girls and women in Baja,” with the target populations of teenagers, single mothers, victims of domestic violence, and those just striving to improve their lives. They seek  “to empower women to use their voices, acquire new skills, maximize their education, support other women, learn trades, and start businesses.”

On October 16, 2019 the Casa de Mujeres opened its blue door on Paseo de los Heroes in Santa Anita, south of La Mision. The Casa is open Mondays and Fridays from 10:00 am – 2:00 pm.

Several 6-week classes are currently being offered, with more under consideration. Every encounter is valuable. A six-week Self Esteem class led by Joanna Wood started with 13 signups and only three show-ups. Of these three only one lady finished, but this singular student declared, “This class saved my life.” By using the tools she had learned, “I feel happier, healthier, and more peaceful now than ever.”

Most classes suggest a 20 peso donation, but the fee is waived for those who cannot afford the payment. English class with Rita Gullickson is at 10:30 on Mondays, with ladies learning English through simple conversation. The Women’s Creativity Circle meets Fridays at 9:30 for Movement with Laura Mandala an Arts (painting, drawing, collage, writing…) at 10:30 with Sue McDevitt. Classes are mostly in Spanish.

A Sewing Program connected to Casa del Sol Naciente and run by Rosa Martinez is offered to those actually seeking a career in sewing and fashion; it’s a 2-year, 6-days a week intense sewing program. Information and scholarships are available through MPM or email [email protected]

MPM’s Home Health Care program, led by Mary Simmons, is partnered with Rosarito Beach Christian Church. This 8-week course provides skills for the home health care workers who aid those who prefer to stay home during illness.. Tuition is $100. Anyone wishing to provide a scholarship should contact Mary Simmons.

Mujeres Para Mujeres is starting a microfinance program, with the committee chaired by Karen Cebreros. They are currently researching ways in which to provide microloans to women for entrepreneurial and educational ventures. MPM has partnered with VIA International, which has positive experience in micro-lending with 100% payback of microloans worldwide. Helping to fund this program are Greeting Cards by Rhonda, on sale at Baja Mail in Puerto del Valle, near La Mision. The cards may be customized for particular occasions.

For more information, MPM cordially invites you to their next gathering, a cookie exchange Sunday, December 8th at 3:30 pm at La Jolla Condos (km29, across the boulevard from Fat Cat Restaurant). Bring three dozen cookies to exchange. Membership is not a prerequisite.  For additional details, contact [email protected]

March 8th will be the 1st anniversary of MPM and elections for next year’s Board will be held. The group is always seeking new energetic members, Mexican and expat, especially from the northern area of Rosarito. I know many of us have been giving generously of our time and funds, especially after the spate of fires Rosarito has experienced, but please consider sharing your talents with this fine group of ladies. Do you have any ideas for a class or a workshop that would benefit local ladies? They are currently seeking a Membership Coordinator, Volunteer Coordinator, Development Director, and Grant Writer… and a dozen folding chairs.

Donations or memberships may be paid through PayPal at [email protected] MPM is close to achieving their US 501(c)(3) non-profit status, making all donations tax-deductible. For information on any of the programs, classes, greeting cards, etc., please visit the Facebook page “Mujeres Para Mujeres Group” or phone 646-978-7507.

Consider coming out of retirement for this great cause. Gentlemen are welcome
too!

Dolls and Balls Toy Drive

The Heart of Baja annual 1000 Dolls and Balls toy drive has started! 1000 dolls, balls, and other toys are needed to help children of all ages enjoy Christmas, Donations will go to the children of local orphanages, and those on ranches, farms, and in the hills.

You may drop unwrapped gifts at Charly’s Place (k 37.5); Los Amigo’s Restaurant (k 30); Judith Douglas Spa (k 40); Click-on Mailroom (k 40.5); Vista Hermosa (k 43 – formerly Bobby’s by the Sea); La Paloma (k 28); Chubbies Restaurant; and Mata Ashta (San Antonio del Mar). You may even schedule a pick-up by calling 442-273-7348. If you don’t have the time or inclination to shop, donations may be made online at www.heartsofbaja.com. Remember, this is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt charity, so all cash donations are tax-deductible on your US tax returns.

Do you shop on Amazon? Instead of going to Amazon.com, go to smile.amazon.com and enter “Hearts of Baja Children’s Homes Network” into your chosen charity. A percentage of your purchases will go to Hearts of Baja! How easy is that? Especially if you were going to order toys from Amazon anyway. Let’s help Rosarito’s children have a Merry Christmas!

Pulling Together After the Fires

In October, fires ran rampant through areas of northern Baja. Several areas of Rosarito were hit hard. This article will focus on re-building operations that have come to my attention as of the first week of November. There may have been additional fires, and certainly more sources of relief that haven’t yet come to light. But here’s what we know as of this writing:

We’ve already heard numerous accounts of individual suffering due to the tragic fires, so we need not reiterate those tragedies. Our focus here is to shed light on sources of relief and recovery.

The two main fire areas were in Rosarito in the Ejido Morelos/ Santa Anita del Mar area, about three miles east of the Rosarito Beach Hotel, where 20 – 30 homes burned. The other primary location is in La Mision, where approximately 40 homes burned, many of which were owned by expats.

One big difference is that most of the less fortunate Mexican homeowners do not carry home insurance, so when the home and/or car is destroyed they are left with nothing. Most of them work for mere pesos to begin with, and In many cases the fires destroyed their means and implements of income, such as food preparation utensils or house-cleaning supplies.

Here are the Facebook organizations that have come to my attention as of the Gringo Gazette publication deadline:

KSitas – on Facebook and www.ksitas.org; a 501c3 non-profit organization. Funds may be donated to https://ksitas.org/bajacampaigns. 100% of the money donated will go to building supplies and labor for rebuilding homes.

Colectivo Surf Brew Company (above White Horse Liquors) and local artist Jaime Carbo spearheaded this group. An auction of some of Jaime’s artwork is scheduled to aid the rebuilding effort. The first house is nearly finished, at a cost of about $6000 (USD). Their website is an excellent source of relief efforts.

Facebook: Baja Fire Victims – Led by Jackie Alameda (Of Baja Blues Fest) and Lisa Marlott, their group is working to rebuild 30 homes. They’re appealing to the public for food items, toiletries, diapers, building materials, medical supplies, blankets and sleeping bags. www.gofundme.com/f/baja-fire-Victims is their website. For more Information please call: 1-858-790-2380.

Facebook: La Mision Fire Relief Fund – and https://openarmsmexico.org. Led by Daniel and Heidi Elizarraraz, Directors. You may donate at the website through PayPal or with a credit card. Checks may be sent to Open Arms, PO Box 6605, Chula Vista, CA 91909. All donations are tax-deductible. Phone: 1-619-882-9001 or 01152-646-255-0858. Check their website for information on how to donate.

Kumiai Fire Relief Drive – to help our indigenous “first people” in the hills. Needed are non-perishable food, water, clothes, blankets, toiletries, wood, pet feed and cash. Drop off points are at Kumeyaay Community College, Monday-Friday, 10 am – 4 pm and Saturday / Sunday 10 am – 2 pm. Manzanita Activity Center Monday – Friday 10 am – 2 pm, and Viejas Recreational Center, Monday – Friday 8 am – 8 pm. Contact Martha Rodriguez 760-445-7726 for information. Also Grace Sesma, 720-363-6034, and Brooke Baines, US 1-619-519-8264.

I must caution you about Go Fund Me pages where you are not personally knowledgeable of the person in charge. These may be used for good or for evil purposes. If you know the person or group hosting the page, by all means feel free to contribute, but tragedy attracts creeps who take advantage of the situation for their own personal enrichment. Make sure you know your money is being used for the purpose you intended.

There will certainly be more groups forthcoming. Please share through your social media, or by personal reference. Much help is needed. You may also take donations of clothing, household goods, etc. to the local Cruz Roja Thrift Stores in Rosarito and Primo Tapia, which help our community year-round.

Thank you so much for your support of the community.

Paellas Event to Benefit the Recent Fire Victims

In a recent press conference Rubén Barrau, presented us with the “Paellaton” event, organized by business groups CANACO and CANIRAC, in order to provide support to all those who were affected by the recent fires in the region.

This event will present an approximate of 27 restaurants that will be offering paella; with several bands brightening up the event. In addition, assistants will have the opportunity to participate in raffles for free nights at participant hotels.

The cost of the tickets will be $350 MXN (about $19 USD) which will include a plate of paella and a glass of wine, with all the proceeds going to those affected by the recent fires.

Tickets may be purchased the same day of the event at the box office, which will be held this Sunday, November 10, 2019 at the facilities of Riviera, Ensenada Social, Civic and Cultural Center starting at 12:00 pm.

Luis Tirado, president of the National Chamber of Restaurants and Seasoned Foods of Ensenada (CANIRAC), mentioned that some of the restaurants which will be present on the day of the event will be: Agua de Vid, Cantera, Casa Frida, La 4ta, La Cevichería, Mesón de Don Fernando, as well as several wineries and more.

Accountant Marco Estudillo, also an organizer of the event, said that they will be extra careful on the handling of the collected funds, making sure they get where they are needed the most, in the most transparent way possible. All proceeds will be clearly inventoried and channeled to both the firefighters and more than 30 families that lost everything to the fires.

Finally, Jorge Menchaca, president of the National Chamber of Commerce of Ensenada (CANACO), emphasized that the idea of replicating the Paellaton each year could be an alternative to solve community problems from inside the society itself.

Fins Up! It’s 5:00 o’clock Somewhere

There is a new social club coming to Rosarito and Ensenada. Many of you may already qualify for membership even if you don’t know it. If you have a “laid back” attitude, you enjoy having fun with people who are a lot like you, and escaping to the beach is your lifetime goal (and let’s face it…we are HERE aren’t we?) then you just might be a Parrot Head.

No, I didn’t just insult your intelligence. Baja’s two newest Parrot Head Clubs (yes, there IS such a thing) are submitting their charter applications this November for inclusion into the Parrot Heads in Paradise Inc., which was created back in 1994.

Now, these clubs are not just another excuse to party. But as Chapters President Larry Norman explained to me, their tag line is “Party with a purpose.” And we can “party with a purpose while supporting our community and have fun doing it!” Over the last 16 years, Parrot Head Clubs have contributed $53.5 million to charitable organizations all over the world, and members have donated 4.2 million volunteer hours to their communities.

Larry described the Club’s Mission Statement is to “promote friendship and organized activities for people that share an affection for the tropical spirit of singer-songwriter Jimmy Buffett, and a desire to contribute to the betterment of our community and environment through a variety of volunteer efforts.” Just think, with all of the post-fire labor we all have been doing, those hours can be made part of our local Parrot Head charitable experience. The principle charities that will be supported by the Rosarito and Ensenada chapters are Hearts of Baja and Blues Against Hunger Society, which are charities near and dear to our hearts.

The first organizational meeting for the Ensenada chapter is 4 pm on November 12 at the Hotel Coral and Marina and in Rosarito November 14 at the Club at Number 18, Pikin Zip Line Park at 4 pm. Both meetings will be followed by a free three-hour concert by Mike Nash, one of Nashville’s top artists. Don’t worry if you miss the first meetings. The Parrot Head clubs will meet every month on the first Tuesday in Ensenada and first Thursday in Rosarito, with “It’s 5 o’clock” social hours to follow. Concerts will be performed every three months.

Mike Nash has played with Jimmy Buffet, Charlie Daniels, and Lynyrd Skynrd, to drop just a few names. He tours the United States, including Alaska, ever year in his motor home. Larry convinced him to come down to Baja as long as he was going to be in San Diego on his Stay Thirsty 2020 Winter Tour anyway.

I visited the Rosarito Chapter clubhouse, which is in Larry’s home and has been renovated into a club atmosphere complete with two indoor bars, comfy concert seating, fully stocked kitchen for food at the events, and (for sunnier weather) an outdoor bandstand with a beautiful ocean backdrop.

Membership is $20, and Larry hopes to have 40 Charter Members signed up during these first two meetings. But don’t worry if you miss the meetings as they will meet every month. Contact Larry at [email protected] or at US 1-619-554-2438 with any questions you have or to RSVP.  In time Larry would like to see more Parrot Head Clubs in Baja than in California (which has 6).

Some of you may still be asking “So why ‘Parrot Head?’” Originally it was said to be as “Dead Heads” followed the Grateful Dead, Buffet fans followed the message of Buffet’s music. For some reason unclear to me, these fans took to wearing stuffed parrots on their heads at concerts. So if this story has you humming “Margaritaville” right now, you just might be a Parrot Head.

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