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This page currently contains the following articles, listed in the following order:

IREE—The Little School That Could—Celebrates Its 13th  anniversary - Ines Roberts
Helping the Rural Society in Mexico    by Sue Reid
Sareda Milosz Receives Lifetime Achievement Award by M. Wein     
The Shakespeare Readers  by Sylvia Berek Rosenthal
Violence is Not Inevitable    by Nadine Goodman
Musical Theatre in San Miguel    by Judy Marzulli

Amending the The 24-hour Association information (below)   by Russ Archibald

The 24 Hour Association       by Russ Archibald

Repairs start on Las Monjas dome   by Don Knoles

Theatre is alive and well in San Miguel         by Lola Smith
Suzuki Children’s String Program of San Miguel de Allende  by Russ Archibald
The Playreaders of San Miguel     by Fran Rowe
The Community of Hope       by Pat Tirkot
New Officers Elected for Hospital de La Fe Board   by Connie Mullis  
see archives for older articles

6/16/04 IREE—The Little School That Could—Celebrates Its 13th  anniversary  Reproduced with permission from San Miguel Chronicles - a free subscription is available by writing an email to <mailtothesanmiguelchronicles-subscribe@elistas.com> 

IREE—Instituto de Rehabilitación y Enseñanza Especial—is dedicated principally to assisting deaf youngsters to become the first class citizens they are, through learning sign language that enables them to communicate with each other and their families as well as language therapy (where possible) that opens the world of communication to the hearing world.

 Since its inception in 1993, the untiring efforts of its Volunteer Director, Cecilia Ibarrola de Escobar, along with special education teachers María Luna Jiménez and Lourdes Jiménez Dominguez, and support from members of the community such as Louise McGann, Alison McGregor, Claire and James Kirkman, Charles and Susan Bloom, Bett Adams, Susann and Jim Christen, Col. Phil Maher, Inés Roberts, Jean Evans, Peggy Hurst, Paula Rosenblum, Ann Riley, Judy Marzulli and many, many more, the school has grown in size as well as educational sophistication.

 Important advances in helping the hearing impaired through modern technology has helped them to integrate and emerge from the isolation that is so often their fate, have been introduced at IREE. An IBM computer program that has cartoon/like visuals to help deaf children identify and control sounds which they themselves are unable to hear. Donations of hearing aids have helped many students of limited means acquire a modest level of hearing and the very latest--cochlear implants, are unfortunately limited to those who can afford the US$30,000.

 IREE does not receive any government support but through INEA, an adult education program, students receive a certified primary and secondary education at IREE that enables them to pursue higher education goals or enter the workforce.  For instance graduates Marta Rangel Marroquín, known to many of us as she played the ‘archangel’ in the annual Pastorela, now works at the Biblioteca Municipal as a computer coordinator; Alfonso Aguilar Rosales works up at the Cinépolis movie house and Lizzie Valenzuela has received a scholarship to further her studies in the United States.

 Over the past years numerous volunteers have made important contributions. A group of deaf education teachers from Little Rock, Arkansas who originally came as tourists, are now regular visitors to IREE; calling themselves ‘Las Jacarandas’ because they always arrive when jacarandas are in bloom!  They have also arranged for an exchange with local teachers from IREE to perfect their skills in the United States. Several psychologists from Belgium have travelled here to assist with the psychological problems particular to the hard of hearing.

 Local volunteers have dedicated innumerable hours to provide IREE students with recreational and life enhancing activities: Ann Riley played the organ at the school every week so the students could dance and sing—vibrations from the organ helped them to learn vocalizing rhythms and find great enjoyment in an activity seemingly denied them. Peggy Hurst a creative seamstress, has taught many of the students to make rag dolls, patchwork quilts, pot holders and other fun items with scrap fabrics she brought from her home in Canada—the children have been able to make many items for sale and earn pin money for themselves. Every year, Judy Marzulli regularly produces a popular annual cabaret show—end of January and early February—with the entire proceeds donated to IREE. On Saturdays, many students develop their culinary skills by preparing muffins for sale in the school kitchen.

 Feed the Hungry, St. Paul’s Church program that provides daily meals to thousands of school children in San Miguel includes IREE in its program. The Patronato Pro Niños has a mutual cooperation program with IREE. A series of fund raising tours are in the planning stages, the first of which is ‘A Night at the Opera’ in Mexico City on July 6th. For further information please call 152 21 48.

 Nowadays IREE has students from Dolores and Querétaro as well as San Miguel. Tuition is limited to what the families can afford: $30 to $80 pesos a month and do not cover the cost of their education. Tax deductible donations can be sent directly to IREE, Apartado 1001, San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato 37700 or you can contact the school via e-mail at: iree@unisono.net.mx.  Ceci says, “Thank you, San Miguel, for all your help!” 

6/2/04 - Helping the Rural Society in Mexico – by Sue Reid 

One of the most alarming problems in Mexico is saving the indigenous rural society. The state of Guanajuato is affected by the migration of

The people in the villages consist mainly of young people and women. They wish to make a living with their own skills and with dignity. Often the Mexican government provides them with a small building in their area. They can therefore produce crafts, hand made and created by the indigenous groups. Often transportation for marketing these products becomes too expensive for the individual person.  A person in the village becomes responsible to take the products to nearby towns for sale. The women must be paid for their work on delivery, as they are indeed very poor. A young woman in San Miguel is helping these indigenous groups to market their crafts and give them hope and dignity.  

“La Placita” was opened to help these people strengthen their economy and develop their indigenous society. Rosa Garcia de Ramirez opened her shop two years ago to help these people. It contains hand made products produced by the young people and women left behind in the community. Hand made baskets; baby and children’s clothes knitted and embroidered by hand, dolls (each with traditional dresses of native states), paper mache figures, rebozos, towels, women’s manta clothing and recently handbags. The prices are low and competitive to those in other shops as Sra. Ramirez pays cash on delivery to the women.  Each time you purchase these products you are helping strengthen the economy of villages. It is located in Plaza Colonial, which is on the corner of Canal and H. Macias, Canal 21. It is a wonderful way to support these fine crafts. In the past we have lost so many of the fine hand made items once made in Mexico. 

publisher's note: Sue Reid also said "I met this young woman today and am impressed. She truly has this shop to help these people and see that they are paid and helped. It is not a government project as they only provide some sort of a building for these people to work at their crafts and then they must do the rest. I forgot to add that the shop is opened 10-2 and 4-8-Closed Tuesdays. ...  As I have stated before ...I am not a writer but I want people to help save these crafts of Mexico as too much now is plastic."

5/17/08  Sareda Milosz Receives Lifetime Achievement Award         by M. Wein

Sareda Milosz, former editor of Atencion and El Independiente, is the recipient of the second annual Stirling Dickinson Lifetime Achievement Award which includes a US$1,000 contribution to local charitable organizations to be chosen by her. She received the award for her 23 years of meaningful volunteer service to San Miguel organizations.

The award was given by the trustees of The Michael Paul Wein Charitable Foundation. Ms. Milosz chose to split the award between the Women's Auxiliary of the American Legion and San Miguel chapter of International Pen's Scholarship Fund.

Once again, this year there were no specific nominations from the community for "Volunteer of this Year", but the Michael Wein Foundation trustees took the initiative to recognize Gerry Wodin for her service to the community. We are saddened that Mrs. Wodin passed away before we could announce our selection. Articles about her work with The Shakespeare Readers, the Playreaders, and the 24-Hour Association appear in SMA OnLine at http//shy.as/smaonline under the categories of Nonprofit Organizations and obituaries and eulogies

The Foundation stated that there were no nominees for its annual designation of an individual organization that best compensates its volunteers in an appropriate non-monetary cost-effective manner

When asked to describe how she got to doing volunteer work in San Miguel, Ms Milosz said

"I arrived in San Miguel de Allende in 1981, exhausted from nearly four years of beach life in Puerto Vallarta. Friends had suggested I might like it here and they were right. It took a while for me to plug in to service activities here and the first place I volunteered was the Biblioteca Pública, where it did not take long for me to land the unpaid job of editor of Atención. Working at Atención gave me a good idea of what was going on in San Miguel, and I began to focus the editorial side of the paper toward San Miguel service organizations, including those run by the state, most especially DIF (Desarrollo Integral de la Familia). I considered such organizations to be the wheels that turned the community, and a great way for idle foreigners to get involved. (Those were to good old days, before big-time fundraising left most of us out in the cold, unable to participate except perhaps as ticket sellers for events we could not afford to attend.) I found that my editorial influence was valuable in terms of keeping the foreign community informed about local happenings and pointing volunteers and other community members toward organizations that helped local Mexican groups. We published articles in Spanish as well as English.

"My favorite groups included CASA, the Biblioteca (the Rural Books and Scholarship Programs), DIF, Mujeres en Cambio, ALMA, Patronato pro-Niños, Centro de Crecimiento, the Don Bosco and Mexiquito Orphanages,the SPA and a couple of others that maintained a decent track record and gave away services.

"Time and other considerations changed my relationship with the Library, and I ended up with my own paper, El Independiente, thanks to patrons and volunteers. From there, we continued to write about the community and cover local Mexican events. Importantly, we had a strong Spanish section. Though my health has not allowed me to keep my fingers in as many pies as previously, I continue to urge foreigners to learn Spanish and get involved in the international service community. Learn the customs and history of your new home town and get busy helping. And always remember that 500 people paying $50 pesos each to attend a charity event (with raffle tickets sold separately) is more important to this community than one person with deep pockets signing a check and calling it a day. For this reason I am happy to present my checks to two organizations where I continue to be active the Women's Auxiliary of the American Legion, which maintains a layette program for new mothers with needs, and the San Miguel PEN Scholarship Committee, which helps several local children attend school."

The trustees of the Foundation were pleased to add Ms. Milosz's name to their web-site page that already honors last year's awardee, Mrs. Luisa Velte, and her designation of the Biblioteca's Stirling Dickinson Scholarship Fund.

The Michael Paul Wein Charitable Foundation encourages all local residents to submit their own nominees (with a short biography attached) to MPWINSMA@cybermatsa.com.mx so that they may be considered for next year's awards. Please submit separate nominees for current year's work, for Lifetime Achievement, and also for individual organization. More information regarding this award can be obtained at http://smanumber1.tripod.com/toc.htm


5/10/04          THE SHAKESPEARE READERS           By Sylvia Berek Rosenthal                                                
Gerry Wodin says that each gringo arriving in San Miguel during the late sixties and early seventies carried in his hand a well-worn volume of the complete works of William Shakespeare.  They carried their precious cargo closely, fearful of trusting it to the not so tender  mercies of airlines, post offices or other shipping companies.  It had to be carried safely  on  one's person.

To literate people, San Miguel seemed a literary wasteland.  The library's collection of English materials was woefully small, and its main emphasis then, as now, was providing materials and programs for local children and young people.  San Miguel offered no English television or theater.  The main cultural emphasis in San Miguel was on the graphic arts. People who came here with a major interest in literature and theater had to create their own programs.  And they did.

They began by meeting in each other's houses and reading to each other for their own pleasure.   Arthur and Tommy Zaidenberg hosted the first meeting and started with Romeo and Juliet.  Soon friends asked if they could come and listen.  The readers, the Echlins, the De Lattres, the Zaidenbergs, the Keoghs were friendly folk, and of course they welcomed the listeners.  Soon the popularity of the readings became such that living rooms were too small to accommodate all those who wanted to listen and the readings were moved to other venues.   That, dear friends, is how our wonderful ongoing legacy of The Play Readers began.  The history of the Play Readers is a wonderful tale, but it is not today's tale.  You may read it on this website (8 articles further down).

While these people were having a marvelous time putting on play readings for a San Miguel audience felt they had lost something valuable and intimate.   They had lost the pure joy of reading plays they loved just for each other.  No audience, no rehearsals, just reading the world's great plays to savor their language, their meaning, and their relevance to today's world.   They needed to get that back, and they did.  

While they did continue the play readings' they began to meet every other week in each other's houses again.  They called themselves "The Shakespeare Readers."  And they had rules.  Rule number one: NO AUDIENCE.  Newcomers were welcome, but if you came, you had to read.  Rule number two: Well, back then there was only rule number one.  Others came along later.  They found it easier to meet regularly in one house, and for the first couple of years they met at Letitia Echlin's.   Eventually they began to keep a tally of what they were reading.  Someone was declared responsible for casting, and someone was responsible for cookies at each session.  There was always an intermission for stretching, yakking, and cookies and tea. 

At some point in the early eighties the Echlins took off for a summer to their other residence in Newburgh, New York.  Letitia asked the Wodins if they would mind playing host to the Readers for the summer.  Of course they were happy to oblige.  Bob Wodin, who really had suffered because of the poor lighting at the Echlins, decided to brighten the setting in his domain.  He installed fluorescent lights.  Of course that went swimmingly with the colonial décor, but it was much easier on the eyes of the readers.

When the Echlins returned in the fall, they decided that the Wodin's well-lit salon was the appropriate setting.  From that day right up to the present, Jesus 52 is home for The Shakespeare Readers.  Letitia mourned only one loss from the move: there was no brewed English tea, only tea bags and instant coffee.

Although record keeping began haphazardly in the very late seventies, it  became more organized as the eighties progressed and it's interesting to tote up the meetings and the plays that were read through some of those years.  206 meetings were held between 1988 and 1998..  That averages out to about 21 meetings a year.  But averages do not tell much.  Some years there were as few as 15 meetings. Other years there were as many as 24.
.
The record also shows that  Shakespeare's tragedies were read twice as often as his comedies.   And of course Shakespeare wasn't always Shakespeare.   Sometimes Shakespeare was Moliere, Ibsen, Hellman, Shaw,and Chekhov, among many others.      In order for a group of readers to sit around and read a play together, there must be multiple copies of the same play.  And preferably multiple copies of the same edition of the same play.  Through the years the groups enjoyed the challenge of reading a variety of good plays besides Shakespeare, but the ability to do this depended on the good fortune and generosity of members who would come in saying, "Look at the treasure I found in my bargain book store-a  dozen copies of Oscar Wilde's  "The Importance of Being Earnest. "    Someone else came along with, "This local theater group is disbanding, and we can have ten copies each of Tennessee Williams' "Sweet Bird of Youth" and Anderson's   "Winterset"

One thing has always remained true.  There never were any charges or fees associated with the Shakespeare Readers.  And there still aren't!  The group still meets every other Wednesday at Gerry Wodin's house.  You have to arrive before 7PM or you can't get in. Well, I've heard of a rare exception.  Someone calls up and begs on bended knee-you can hear the supplicant's knee creak-and once in a while for an extremely valid reason, dispensation is granted , but you must read.  There is an exception granted here also. The two standard exemptions  are  Topsy and Macha, Gerry's toy poodles..  They don't read but they bark a loud welcome as each participant shows up.  When the readers settle down, the poodles become quiet and listen.  They've been known to fall asleep on occasion but this group this group of Shakespeare readers take no offense, and humbly apologize for boring them.

No reservations are required, so the size of the group can vary from a low of 4 to a high of 30.  Each end of the spectrum presents problems in casting with sometimes  surprising results.  For example, once when the designated play was Troilus and Cressida, only four readers showed up.  They decided to dispense with all the battle scenes and read round robin.  With the diversion of the droning battles gone, they found they were reading pure unadulterated Shakespearean pornography!

Readers come in all shapes and sizes with a wide range of reading experience, from people who haven't read aloud since grade school to teachers of literature and drama.  Some prepare by reading the play beforehand.  Others come in cold to read a play they have never read or seen before.  Though we all thoroughly enjoy the more talented and skilled among us, we tolerate the rest who come for the sheer joy of sharing in the experience.  So come along some Wednesday evening and give it a try.  You must read, but you may only get the servant's two lines on your first visit.  Who knows, you may like it enough to become one of the regulars, in which case you will have to take your turn in casting and-- providing cookies.

publisher's note:  An article on The Playreaders is eight articles down from here.

5/3/04  Violence is Not Inevitable   by Nadine Goodman (an article about CASA)
 
It is a Friday afternoon in April in San Miguel de Allende.  The official workday has ended for many yet the conference room upstairs at the CASA Hospital is packed. Seemingly there are no more seats in the house but people continue to arrive and the group accommodates them easily - yet another example of CASA magic.
 
In case you have not heard of C.A.S.A. or her magic, I am referring to a non-profit Mexican organization that today is well known and well respected internationally.  Launched in 1981 C.A.S.A. (Centro para los Adolescentes de San Miguel de Allende) got its name as a result of a contest organized by local Sanmiguelense teenagers. For more than 20 years CASA has been a non-judgmental forum for teenagers and others to freely express themselves, receive correct information and services related to sexuality and reproductive health and, contribute to their own betterment and that of their communities. At CASA the youth design, implement and evaluation their programs assisted by the organization's professional team of physicians, nurses, midwives, public health experts, social workers, teachers and others.
 
I am sitting in the far corner of the conference room, perched on a tall narrow table, which isn't particularly comfortable but affords me a great view of the group of 60 people or more - adolescent peer counselors, professional midwives, docs, and others. Sharing my perch is Roberto, a nineteen-year-old peer counselor who together with 35 other CASA volunteers walked three days in the 1st Annual San Miguel Walk in January, 2004, an event dedicated to raising consciousness about violence and a fund raiser; an event held concurrently with one of Mexico's most important pilgrimages attended by many tens of thousands (please see www.sanmiguelwalk.com). 
 
The Friday meeting has many objectives. Two North American students who will be at CASA as volunteers for three months introduce themselves - one is a medical student interested in international health and midwifery who came to Mexico from Ghana; the other a health economist whose previous internship was at The White House, working with the Council of Economists on health issues.  Six other interns are due this summer, one of who has extensive experience working with Latinos in California and with domestic violence programs.  She will be helping CASA formalize its programs against violence over her 14-month stay.  CASA's director is currently holding focus groups with women who have experienced repeated violence in their lives to get ideas on how together with CASA these women and, other women, men and children can best help themselves and their communities to live free of violence.
 
Another objective of the meeting is for the Advocacy Team - the newest team of CASA peer counselors - to introduce themselves.  A CASA doctor since 1996, Ismael went back to school for his masters in forensic medicine two years ago and today works both for CASA and for the Justice Department, often doing the legally needed medical examinations on survivors of rape.  He asks the new advocacy team,
 
 "What exactly does advocacy mean?" 
 
The team eagerly shares their new knowledge,
 
"It means believing in something passionately; it means working for, arguing for, pleading for a cause; changing attitudes; making things happen." 
 
The team goes on to explain their plans for radio programs to be run by CASA peers, midwives and community members in 7 different states - Guanajuato, Veracruz, Puebla, Chiapas, Oaxaca, San Luis Potosi, Michuacan and Guerrero where people will talk about stopping violence, reproductive health rights and more.
 
All of us at CASA are excited about this new project to stop violence, a project that will join the long standing diverse programs to prevent violence and give assistance to survivors of violence that the organization has run since it was founded.  CASA's peer counselor program for example has been operating for more than 20 years and has been externally evaluated numerous times (1990, 1993, 1996, 2000, 2003).   It has been documented that the majority of the young women (some 600) who have participated in the program experienced violence prior to their contact with CASA.  It has also been proven that their joining the organization has helped them significantly decrease the violence in their lives (copies of evaluations available on request). 
 
CASA has also always had professional psychologists and social workers available to the public for counseling.  In its 2003 annual report it was reported by the fulltime CASA psychologist that 66 percent of the women he sees experience violence and 83 percent of the children under 12 years of age have lives filled with disorder, injuries, clashes and constant disturbances.
 
Since the 1990s CASA has run annual public education campaigns on November 15 - International No Violence Day. In schools and other public places, CASA's team engages in multiple activities such as poster contests amongst children and youth, demonstrating how violence looks in their communities and how to stop it.
 
Also since the early 1990s, 1993 to be exact, CASA has been engaging in high quality professional research on the subject of violence.  Together with the prestigious world-renowned research institute called Population Council, CASA carried out some of the first research in Mexico with 506 women in Guanajuato finding staggering rates of violence.  It is very important to have a documented scientific basis to be able to justify to policy makers the needs for specific programs to combat social problems.  This early study by CASA also looked into the still hush-hush problem of illegal abortions in Mexico.  Not having access to information and services is one form of violence against women.  Worldwide 4 of 10 pregnancies are unplanned, 2 in 10 end in abortion and in Latin American 21 percent of maternal deaths are associated with unsafe abortion. 
 
In 1999 the Guanajuato State congress requested CASA to present its data from its research on violence in the state since the Congress, visa the Congressional committee on Gender Equity and Justice was initiating a law to extent assistance, attention and prevention of InterFamily Violence (La ley de Aisstencia, Atencion y Prevencion de la Violencia Intrafamiliar). Over the years CASA has worked not only with other non-profit organizations and networks such as the Milenio Feminista on these issues but with multiple governmental agencies including: La Procuraduria de Justicia de Guanajuato, Instituto de la Mujer Guanajuatense, El Sitema Estatal para el Desarrollo de la Familia, La Secretaria de Salud, La Secretaria de Educacion, El Consejo Estatal de Poblacion, ISEN (Delegacion Guanajuato) and others.  On a yearly basis CASA's staff receives refresher trainings in this subject and has participated in workshops and seminars given by Mexico City organizations such as El Colegio de Mexico and others.    NPR (National Public Radio) from the US also interviewed CASA peer counselors and others and did a program on domestic and sexual violence in Mexico, including testimony by women who underwent clandestine abortions.
 
In 1996 CASA moved to its first home the organization owned, due to the generosity of the local benefactor Ginger Eades.  Since that time CASA has been giving emergency shelter to women who experience violence.  This service is still available and currently being reorganized.  For more information please contact Irma Salas (information below).  CASA staff also accompanies survivors of violence who legally denounce the perpetrators of these crimes.  This is often a disconcerting labyrinth that seemingly doesn't provide results. CASA and volunteer lawyers have been successful and numerous families who could not move their cases forward were able to so do after our interventions.  Not too long ago CASA's work in this area received accolades from Governor Juan Carlos Romero Hicks who personally received 10,000 signatures collected by CASA staff demanding that the governor make more efficient and agile the legal system in the state to be able to prosecute all perpetuators of sexual crimes, including minors.  
 
Most recently a group called San Miguel Walk has joined forces with CASA.   Last year Ilva Invernizzi and Susan Bloom co-founded and co- chaired this group who pulled off an incredibly successful event that raised more than $40,000 US dollars for CASA's programs to prevent violence and provide assistance to survivors.  Although the event only transpired in late January, already there is a lot of activity underway for the Second Annual San Miguel Walk to occur in January 2005.  For more information on the Walk please call the co-chairs Milou Montferrier and Michele Connor. 
 
The Friday meeting is over and I jump down from my perch.  As everyone files out of the room I go up to a young new face that is attached to a young body that is pregnant. 
 
 "You look concerned, " I say to the young girl. "Are you new?"
 
I am told what I expect to hear - that I am speaking with a new peer counselor.  I reassure her that everyone is scared in the beginning, etc.  While I am not feeling smug, I am confident that I know with whom I have spoken and that I am right, that the young woman will be happy at CASA very soon.
 
The conference room is now almost empty.  The Assistant Director of CASA approaches me,
"Do you know with whom you just spoke?"
 
"Oh you meant the new peer counselor, " I casually answer.  "She looks so agitated, concerned.  I was just trying to calm her down, assure her that she will be happy with us."
 
Yes, I am told, she is a new peer counselor.  She is also "the case" that I was told about recently; the young 17 year old who was raped by someone she knows from her village; beat up by her father, kicked out of her parent's home and village and is 7 months pregnant.  She has also decided that she wants nothing to do with the legal system.  This young woman is being housed by CASA, works as a peer counselor and will have her baby with us.  Will she find happiness with us? In her life? It is hard to predict.
 
What we do know for sure is that violence is not inevitable.
 
In 2002 the World Health Organization (WHO) published its World Report on Violence and Health with a foreword by Nelson Mandela,
 
"Many who live with violence day in and day out assume that it is an intrinsic part of the human condition. But this is not so. Violence can be prevented. Violent cultures can be turned around. In my own country and around the world, we have shining examples of how violence has been countered. Governments, communities and individuals can make a difference."
 
I left the Friday meeting having met yet one more survivor of violence. While connecting the face to the case left me feeling humbled, I left the meeting feeling hopeful.  I take that back.  I left the meeting feeling elated, a reaction I still find myself having if not daily at least several times a week, year after year after year.   Nelson Mandela has it right - individuals, communities and governments can make a difference.  CASA has made and will continue to make a difference.   
    
For more information on CASA's multiple facilities and programs (day care for infants and preschoolers, Mexico's only midwifery school, river restoration work, etc.  please consult www.sanmiguel-casa.org) or call 415 4 60 60 or 4 60 90 and ask for Irma Salas. For more information on the San Miguel Walk Against Violence please contact Milou at  15 4 7846or email at sanmiguelwalk@yahoo.com

4/29/04      Musical Theatre in San Miguel           by Judy Marzulli

    This is a follow up to Lola Smith's article (see below) "Theater is alive and well in San Miguel".  Musical theater is also alive and well in San Miguel. For the past 8 years I have produced,  with the help at times of a friend, a musical here. We have done Broadway musicals and variety shows with comedy, dancing, instrumentals and of course lots of singing. Most have been for the benefit of underprivileged children. The last two being for IREE, the school for children with hearing and other disabilities. A very small school with some very big needs. Visit it sometime at Pila Seca # 41. All profits from these shows go to these very worthy causes. I am always looking for people who are willing to give there time in any areas of these productions be it behind the scenes or on the stage. Performers seem to be few and far between here but I think there may be people out there who have talent but think that these groups are closed. It's not just for fun though, although we do have a lot of that. You must be willing to rehearse 5 mornings a week for 5 to 6 weeks and memorize songs and lines depending on your role. In other words you have to love what you are doing and be willing to make sacrifices to have the experience. So if there is anyone out there who thinks he or she might be interested in being involved in these productions please get in touch with me by email at judpat@unisono.net.mx. and we'll get together and talk about it.

5/10/04  With the death of Gerry Wodin on May 13, the following has been added to, and it amends, The 24-hour Association information (below)

24 Hour Association Records and Files: The 24 Hour Association files are located in the home of Bonnie Bisnett, our present Executive Secretary. They are essentially complete as of the date that each member has joined, and any revisions submitted by a member after that date are of course placed in their file. We periodically remind members that any changes in their key information and desires should be submitted to us. We are in the process of reviewing the files to verify the last date of revision for each member, and to individually remind members to update their files if their information is more than 5 years old.

Contacting the 24 Hour Association:
The primary point of contact for all members is:
Bonnie Bisnett, Executive Secretary
152-3536 and 011-415-100-3842 (cel)
Box 41B, Border Crossings, Correo 19, Int. 2, San Miguel de Allende
(U.S. address: 24 Hour Association, Box 41B, % Border Crossings, 413 Interamerica Blvd., No. 1 BC-2323, Laredo, TX 78045-8285)

The secondary point of contact is:
Melanie Nance, Treasurer
152-6668 and 011-415-100-7027 (cel)
Same address as above

In the event of the death of a member, a call to Bonnie will result in all the needed procedures being initiated immediately. In her rare absences from San Miguel, Melanie will receive the call and initiate the needed actions.

To request a membership application form or any other information regarding the 24 Hour Association, a call to Bonnie (or Melanie) will result in the application form being delivered, or in a personal meeting with the requester at a mutually convenient time and place in the center of San Miguel. We do not have an office per se, and therefore don't have 'office hours.'

New membership cards are presently being printed and will soon be mailed to all members with the above telephone numbers on them, since the old cards have the telephone number of Gerry Wodin, our former Executive Secretary, who just recently died.

4/26/04    The 24 Hour Association - submitted by Russ Archibald, president

Bonnie Bisnett, Executive Secretary: (415) 152-3536 or 044-415-100-3842
Melanie Nance, Treasurer: 154-9230 (a.m.), 152-6668 (p.m.)

WHO WE ARE: A non-profit legally registered Mexican asociación civil providing a prepaid plan of cremation and burial services that fully comply with Mexican law.

WHAT EXACTLY IS IT WE DO? When a member dies one phone call to the 24 Hour Executive Secretary initiates the process to carry out the wishes of the member as set forth in their application. This process includes handling of the remains, making the requisite communications to the Mexican and local foreign Consular Agents, obtaining the required Mexican legal documents, disposition of the body according to the member’s wishes, and arranging for funeral or shipping services as specified.

WHAT TYPE OF SERVICES DO WE OFFER? Three basic types of services are offered with some variations. These are cremation, burial, and shipment of remains back home. Information is also provided for local funeral arrangements as desired.

WHAT DOES IT COST? Current (2004)  membership fees are (U. S. dollars):

· Cremation with the ashes placed in a brass urn:

Delivered locally in San Miguel                                                                                  $630.00

Interred in a niche with a plaque in the San Miguel Panteon Cemetery*              $830.00

Shipping the ashes home can be arranged; the estate pays the added costs.

· Embalming and burial in our separate section of  the San Miguel Panteon Cemetery*: 

In the ground with headstone                                                     $1,000.00

In a crypt with a plaque                                                                $1,000.00

       
· Shipment of embalmed remains to the Leon airport
for air shipment home plus air shipment costs that are paid by the estate.        $1,800.00

* The 24 Hour Association owns and provides perpetual care of burial plots and niches in our section of the San Miguel Panteon Cemetery. Desired locations may be specified in advance by the member

FUNERAL ARRANGEMENTS: The 24 Hour Secretary will provide information as needed to make arrangements for local funeral services for any religious faith or denomination as specified in the member’s application form.

MEMBERSHIP: Open to all residents of San Miguel. Membership fees are fully refundable at any time, and in the event the member dies away from San Miguel and does not require our assistance. There is a 60 day waiting period after you join before your benefits take effect. Completion of our 4 page application form plus copies of your birth certificate, passport, visa, and other pertinent documents provide you the opportunity to ease your survivors’ stress at a difficult time in their lives. This also enables you to document important estate planning decisions and specify the location of important related documents.

04/19/04     Repairs start on Las Monjas dome   by Don Knoles

         After years of sounding the alarm and fund-raising efforts, work has started on badly needed repairs of La Concepcion, better known as La Monjas.

         San Miguel mayor Luis Alberto Villarreal and some of those who were involved were on hand for a concert, fiesta and mass marking the occasion. A huge banner proclaiming the restoration has been hung from the side of the landmark church.

         Cost will be $715,000 pesos covering repairs of damaged paintings and numerous structural weaknesses, the most prominent being a ten-foot long crack in the dome.         The fissure has been there for 15 years. About ten years ago, it began leaking during the rainy season. Up to now, when the showers came, the nuns, who run the church, pushed back the pews near the altar and brought in buckets to catch the falling water. They noted the crack has been growing due to vibrations from heavy vehicles in nearby streets.

         Padre Fernando Manriquez, president of Amigos de San Miguel, the group in charge of restoring local churches, ominously warned that if nothing was done the dome could collapse with "tragic" consequences.

         Over the past four years, the expat community has been helping to raise funds while pressing for action. Preeminent in this group have been Terry Kutt-Reinhart, Rita Krug (who now lives in Houston) and Debra Sullivan.

         A bit of history: construction on Las Monjas began in 1755. The money came from Dona Maria Josefa Lina de la Canal y Hervas, eldest daughter and heiress to the well-to-do builder of the Canal Palace (now Banamex). She died there as a nun in 1770 and is buried beneath the choir.

         The dome was added in 1891 by Ceferino Gutierrez, the creator of La Parroquia facade. His model was Les Invalides, site of Napoleon's tomb in Paris. 

 4/13/04      THEATRE ALIVE AND WELL IN SAN MIGUEL         by Lola Smith

 Wherever large groups of expatriates form permanent communities, “old country” culture follows, often in the form of a community newspaper and a little theatre.  San Miguel de Allende is no exception.  English speaking foreigners began to settle in the then provincial community in the late 1930’s.  By the 1960’s enough foreigners with theatre experience had made San Miguel home that bilingual and English language dramatic readings and productions were presented on a regular basis.  

Venues ranged from El Ring disco (formerly the site of cockfights) to the Teatro Angela Peralta to St. Paul’s Church Parish Hall.  Several groups grew out of the original participants, including the Shakespeare Readers, who still meet regularly at the home of Gerry Wodin; the Playreaders of San Miguel who continue to present polished readings of new plays every two weeks in the St. Paul’s Parish Hall; and the Players Workshop, who after years of working at the Institute Allende constructed the Teatro Santa Ana on the premises of the Biblioteca Publica in 1998.  In addition to these long established groups, several independent producers have appeared on the scene in the last few years, each of whom usually produce one play a year.

 Players Workshop, San Miguel’s community theatre, was founded in 1981 and got off to a running start in l982 with a production of “Guys and Dolls”.  Since then they have presented a wide variety of plays, usually five a year, which have kept audiences in touch with the latest in the English language theatre scene, including Broadway and off-Broadway. To date their 96 productions have included seven Pulitzer Prize winners, such as “A Delicate Balance” and “Gin Game”; thrillers, such as “Deathtrap” and “The Woman in Black”; musicals like “Nunsense” and “Oh! Coward”; popular hits like “Other People’s Money” and “I’m Not Rappaport”, classics represented by “The Madwoman of Chaillot” and “Spoon River”; and comedies like “Blithe Spirit” and “Beyond Therapy”.

 It is a constant challenge to find plays that are suitable for our small stage and casting limitations, and we are always on the lookout for new blood.  We need not only stars and bit part players, but people who are interested in learning production and in handling backstage jobs.  We welcome all newcomers and encourage anyone curious to learn how to be a stage manager or to work with props or costumes to contact us.  New directors would be received with open arms, as would volunteers for more mundane jobs such as selling tickets or putting up posters.  Do you like to write?  We need people to handle publicity.  And if you have any suggestions for plays you would like to see put on, we would like to hear from you too.    

Putting on a play involves time and some hard work, but it’s fun and fulfilling.  You meet interesting people and make new friends.  So, yes, theatre is alive and well in San Miguel, but we are looking for additional people who will help keep it that way.  Interested?  Call Lola Smith at 152-1756, or E-mail lmsma@prodigy.net.mx.

 
4/10/04      “Suzuki Children’s String Program of San Miguel de Allende”    by Russ Archibald

Accomplishments to Date and Future Plans
                  The Suzuki Program was started in 2001 by Professor David Mallory, a professional violinist with many years of experience in teaching the Suzuki Method. The not-for-profit Suzuki organization was formed in 2003 by full-time residents of San Miguel to carry out this mission.
         In our third year of operation there are approximately 60 violin students and 15 piano students, varying in age from 5 to 14 years, and a cello class is now beginning. Eventually some violin students with larger hands will convert to cello and viola, and after that cello students with very strong hands will convert to string bass. Within only a few years it is highly probable there will be a balance to this instrumentation to begin a junior string orchestra. Eventually they can couple with woodwind and brass students currently studying....and that means San Miguel will have its own junior symphony orchestra.
The Suzuki Method
Sinichi Suzuki has become one of the most famous music pedagogues in the world. His method and philosophy was discovered in 1964 in Japan which immediately lured noted music educators in the US to train with him. His system was quickly adopted in the US, first by university music programs and later in private schools across the country. Today there are perhaps hundreds of thousands of children world-wide studying violin, cello, piano, and flute with this system in many countries, including many Latin American countries. Its basic tenets are: 1) development of the whole child is most important, 2) musical talent is educated rather than innate, 3) learning takes place in very small and quantified increments, 4) learning is fun, 5) love is a far better driving force for learning than "discipline" in the old fashioned sense,6) ultimate professional level performance is not the goal, although many students have achieved a professional standard. Suzuki students start learning an instrument when their learning abilities are the highest they will ever be, and they soak up all learning like a sponge. Only some will go on to become top-notch professionals, but all are being given priceless gifts: not only appreciation of great classical music, but also the means of actually playing it. These gifts are guaranteed to provide ever-increasing nurture and sustenance to the soulwhich no-one can ever take from them for as long as they live.   The Suzuki musical literature is standardized in such a way that children in families that move to other locations can easily fit into the local Suzuki program elsewhere. Thus their musical study does not lose its continuity. The San Miguel program now links with the Suzuki programs in Guanajuato and McAllen, Texas, with public performances of combined student groups. Suzuki teachers must be members of the Suzuki Association of the Americas and train in the Suzuki pedagogy. They must meet certain standards and be certified at as many as 10 different levels. Ephriam Flores, a well-qualified teacher trainer from McAllen, Texas, has recently conducted training sessions for us here in San Miguel, and in October 2003 our violin staff attended the first Suzuki Violin Training Institute held in Guanajuato.
David Mallory’s Background and Experience
We are very fortunate that Program Director David Mallory is a full-time resident of San Miguel. David is professor emeritus of music at California State University, Chico, and was the head violin instructor there. He has trained in the Suzuki method with numerous noted Suzuki teacher trainers, including Dr. Suzuki himself. David was director of the Chico Suzuki Music School in Chico, CA.; was first concertmaster of the Munich Symphony in Germany; has recorded with RCA, Phillips, EMI, CBS; has performed on TV and radio; and has performed professional chamber music with the Cappella di Musica group in San Francisco, CA.
Our Financial Needs
The San Miguel program has non-profit status allowing it to accept monies from private donors. Its financial needs include funds for:
·         Teacher training workshops.
·         The cost of renting performance halls for concerts, paying for publicity, making recordings, etc.
·         A scholarship system for families unable to purchase instruments and pay fully for ongoing lessons.
Checks may be made to the San Miguel Educational Foundation/SMEF with ‘Suzuki Program’ on the notation line and sent to David Mallory, Box 55A, La Conexion, Aldama # 3, SMA. or
220 N. Zapata Highway, 11A Laredo, TX 78043 USA
Join Our Volunteer Group
for further information:
David Mallory, Director and Head, Teacher Training 154-8455
Mariana Ferreiro, violin and piano teacher 152-7381
Marcela Garza, violin teacher, piano accompanist, 152-8377
Lilia Gomez, violin teacher, 152-7910
Enrique Prado, cello teacher, piano accompanist
Edward Clancy, teaching assistant 152-8671

April 6, 2004 THE PLAYREADERS OF SAN MIGUEL by Fran Rowe

 
For almost thirty years the Playreaders of San Miguel have been producing staged readings of plays (ONLY PLAYS THAT HAVE BEEN PROFESSIONALLY PUBLISHED AND PRODUCED) bi-monthly all year, except for a hot-weather hiatus in May.   The Readers have three rehearsals and two or three performances. These readings are held at 7:30 pm at St. Paul's Parish Hall on Calle Cardo on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday (from December through March) and Wednesday and Thursday the rest of the year.   A donation of 10 pesos is requested of the audience.  The next reading on April 21 and 22 is "Five Women Wearing the Same Dress," a comedy, directed by Marthe Fraser.
 
If you are interested in directing, acting, tech (sound and lights), or any other aspect of theater and wish to become involved in Playreaders, please contact Gerry Wodin at 1521723; Lola Smith, 1521756 (email:  lmsma@prodigy.net.mx); Fran Rowe, 1521166 (email:  franrowe@prodigy.net.mx); or Marthe Fraser, 1521111 (email:  zacateros@yahoo.com). 
 
Join us!   

March 31, 2004      The Community of Hope       by Pat Tirkot

The Community of Hope is a group of trained volunteers who visit the homebound, sick, lonely, disabled, dying and bereaved, as well as their families and caregivers.  COH offers comfort, support and encouragement.  All services are free and available to foreigners and Mexicans.  Community of Hope operates with a Board of Directors representing St. Paul ’s Anglican Church, the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship  and the community at large.  In addition to home visits, some Volunteers make calls to Hospital de la Fe and participate in Centro Infantil San Pablo’s Head Start program.     Referrals are made to needed  resources such as  for home care nursing services and to the medical supplies bodega at St. Paul ’s which loans  wheelchairs, crutches, walkers, etc free of charge. COH  has a resource loan  library  on variety of subjects including dying and grief as well as books on tape.

If you know of someone who can benefit from Community of Hope’s services,  call Pat Tirkot, 152-8164 or Jean Depperschmidt, 152-1943.  

 March 31 2004        New Officers Elected for Hospital de La Fe Board               by Connie Mullis  

New officers were elected for the Patronato Board at Hospital de La Fe on March 20, 2004. Elected President, Connie Mullis PA; First Vice President, Sybil Yates RN; 2nd Vice President, Dr. Arturo Barrera; Treasure, Mike Stone MBA CPA. The Patronato Board raises money to purchase needed equipment for Hospital de La Fe and also to treat indigent patients.The Patronato Board serves as a liaison between the citizens of San Miguel and the hospital in order to help institute a high standard of medical care for the community. The Patronato Board hopes to insure the growth of San Miguel through the Board's continued commitment to make Hospital de La Fe a quality health care provider.

Objectives of this page:

1- this section will contain all information written for and about  "local charitable organizations" that meet the criteria described in Instructions . All information will be published in the date order of receipt, with the latest notices on top (the oldest nearer the bottom). 

2-  to foster more transparency regarding their operations, this space will also be available to enable all organizations who solicit funds from the public to make their financial operations more transparent by publishing information that allows the public to see how their contributions are being used.  This applies to all charitable and other non-profit organizations. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Underpromise and Overdeliver”

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