We Are Back and Better Than Ever!

Welcome back to FOP! We’ve been off the radar a bit, gracias a the transition to a new intern and a lot of people traveling/getting kids back to school. The 2010/2011 intern, Marina, has finished her full-time internship, although she’s still helping with our new Oaxaca Kids Can program (more about that below!) and we’re thankful for her help. My name is Rachel Mills, and I started as the FOP intern in July. When I first heard about Friends of Pimpollo from Lizzie Martinez, the 2009/2010 intern, two years ago, I thought it sounded like a neat little organization. Key word: little. In the last three months, in changing from the new hire to the intern involved in myriad aspects of the organization, in translating reports from Vicente Guerrero and Pimpollo and Tuxtla Learning Center, in brainstorming for events and keeping records and processing donations and planning for our November team, I’ve learned that there is nothing œlittle  about Friends of Pimpollo. As the leaves fall and we leave the sluggish summer behind, here’s an update on FOP, from the œnewbie’s  perspective.

Team 50

The countdown to Team 50 is almost into single digits, and the flurry of activity as we arrange lodging and agendas and transportation is giving way to pure excitement: we are sending out FIFTIETH team to volunteer in Mexico. We are an organization with one paid employee and 12 years of history, yet fifty teams of people have believed in us enough to give up their time and volunteer with our programs. That’s pretty darn awesome!

It is also exciting to note that this is our very first corporate team! Team 50 boasts a total of fourteen people, including myself, President John Kerr, Board Member Julie Hoy, and three long-time supporters of FOP, Roy Cook, Susan Castor, and Wayne George. In addition, we are partnering with Maps Credit Union for the Oaxaca portion of the trip. The Vice President of Development, Jill Nowacki, is the team leader for a group of eight, including the Board of Directors Chair Joe Phillippay and Director Tom Marks, as well as Barbara Cecil, Bobbie Concepcion, Paige Pena, Oscar Porras, and Stephanie Young. The majority of these group members are new to Friends of Pimpollo, and we welcome the wave of enthusiasm that they are bringing. We are excited to head down to Oaxaca with them and enjoy one another’s company for a week of work, education, enlightenment, friendship-building, and fun! I’ll try to keep blogging while I’m down there, so stay tuned  .

Wears My Shirt

We also have another exciting partnership in the works, this time with a T-shirt sales/marketing organization called Wears My Shirt. Basically, WMS works with nonprofit organizations to design T-shirts to sell online and in retail outlets, and on each T-shirt, they include a code that leads you to a website tied uniquely to WMS and the nonprofit partner.

Picture this:

You walk into Target and see a T-shirt with a design you like, so you buy it.

You go to your computer and type in the code from the shirt. This takes you to a special FOP website, where you spend hours exploring the

  • contests (for uploading photos or videos of people wearing our shirts)
  • map so you can mark where in the world you’ve worn the shirt
  • forums for comments or ideas
  • photos and videos of the kids getting an education because you bought a cool T-shirt
  • information about FOP, our mission, how to volunteer, and how to donate
  • links to our Facebook page, to our website, to our œstore  and products, and to our blog

You get (more) excited about FOP and tell your friends, so they buy T-shirts.

Someone wins an iPad or a trip to Mexico, you all get excited and start getting (even more) excited about FOP, and we send scholarships to (even more) deserving college students.

All of that, just from buying a T-shirt. Pretty neat, right?

Right now, our friends at WMS, including founder Josh Unruh, are working on some T-shirts and another project, a sugarlump. A sugarlump is the feeling you get when you do something nice for someone else, and the WMS sugarlump project is designed to teach kids about that feeling by helping them help others. We are planning to kick-off our partnership with WMS at the holiday party in December.

Oaxaca Kids Can and Building Healthy Habits

In the upcoming months, we will be starting two new projects in cooperation with the community center in Vicente Guerrero. One program is based on the project run by Steve Peifer, Kenya Kids Can. Peifer runs a program in Kenya where he began by serving breakfasts to students, because he found that kids weren’t able to focus on an empty stomach. He then expanded that program to include computer labs and teachers. (Check out Kenyakidscan.com for more info. It’s pretty neat!)

In Mexico, John Kerr, Marina Cheatham, and Bonifacio Hernandez are starting a similar program, which we hope to begin in January or February. Vicente Guerrero is such a low income community, and we believe that education can change that. Providing breakfasts will convince parents to send their kids to school, and providing computers will give the students incentive to come and give them access to the education that changes lives. Makes sense, right? We can’t wait to see how it goes!

Also in January, Lindsey Thomas, a health education major at Linfield College, will be moving to Vicente Guerrero to start a program called Building Healthy Habits. Lindsey plans to teach health lessons at the schools, focusing on prevention- teeth brushing, hand washing, exercise, nutrition, etc. She will also plan activities at the community center that will reinforce these lessons, ranging from sports teams to nutrition talks. Lindsey studied abroad in Oaxaca in the spring of 2011, and she saw firsthand the passion that the children had for learning and the social issues that keep them out of school. She hopes that her program will prevent problems and give the children the boost they need to succeed. FOP is working with Lindsey, and we are looking forward to watching her program come together in the next few months.

Portland Celebration

Last but not least, we want to recognize all of the friends who celebrated with us and supported us at the Portland Celebration on September 28. The program included an update on Vicente Guerrero from Cecelia Monto, a presentation from students at the Queen of Peace school, Loretta Brenner and April Edwards on their experience as the volunteers of Team 49, and John Kerr’s talk about the education scholarship program. Last but not least, Julie Hoy entertained us all with her music, beautiful as always. It was a fantastic night, and to everyone who attended, thank you!

If you weren’t able to come, live in the Portland/Salem area, and would like to attend future events, contact us via info@friendsofpimpollo.org and let us know.

FOP clearly has a lot going on, and even with it all, our programs are running wonderfully. We are celebrating two graduations, a successful summer program with 84 students, and a smoothly operating Pimpollo Home for Children. Your support is changing lives, and we thank you for it!