It’s Quinceanera Time Again!

Have you (or a member of your family) a gently used party dress that could be up-cycled into a Quinceanera dress for a local soon-to-be 15 year old? Would you like to donate a new dress to a really great cause?

The Quinceanera (15th birthday) is an important event for Mexican girls transitioning into adulthood on that special day. The CEIB Reggio Emilia AC launched an Empowering Teen Girls Program in 2015, focused on vulnerable teen girls. The Quinceanera is a “graduation” from their course of study in the program which focuses on health, human rights, entrepreneurship, ecological awareness and much more. The grand evening date has not been finalized, but will be in April or May.

Sponsors and volunteers are always needed. For information on donating resources, time, or cash, please contact Centro Educativo Integral Bilingue Reggio Emilia AC at their Facebook website. Registration will open in November for courses running December through April of next year for qualifying teens. For more information on becoming a part of this cultural occasion, please call 661-850-0325.

American Football Coming to Rosarito

When many of us were preparing to gorge ourselves Super Bowl Sunday on hot wings, pizza, and beer, more than 400 slightly more athletic individuals (some in Lucha Libre masks) participated in the “Donate One Yard 5K Run Trot Walk” from the currently-being-renovated Hotel Festival Plaza to the Hotel Castillos Del Mar, and back.

Did you know that Rosarito is the only major city in Baja without a dedicated American-style football field?  We don’t even have a plot of land large enough to be used as a regulation football field, with stands and parking. Francisco Beltran, President of Student Athletics A.C., is trying to remedy that with his “Donate One Yard” fundraising campaign and events.

Francisco, head coach and founder of BajaFootball.org, was joined by Ricardo Cabralez, Alderman of the Youth Sports Commission, Jesus Gastelum, Director of IMDER, and Manuel Esteban Padrez, Manager of the Hotel Festival Plaza, in welcoming participation in the 5K, or to donate to the cause.

Many American expats in Rosarito are from the Pacific coast where the only “Friday Night Lights” we remember are those on the tops of police cruisers when we were up on Mulholland Drive or cruising on Van Nuys Boulevard. But Friday Night Lights were important to a big part of the United States. Wouldn’t it be nice to look forward to that again? (No, I’m not talking about cruising Van Nuys Boulevard).

It has been shown that participation in sports makes for better students, and at a time when sports is being driven from schools, other after-school sports are even more important. Francisco’s passion comes from playing American football since he was 14 years old, and continuing in a San Diego high school. He attended college in Monterrey and obtained a degree in Sports and Training.

The cost of a square yard of field is $62 (US) which includes the turf, a base of gravel and sand, and labor. The total amount needed is about $600,000, so there is a long way to go, and major sponsors, such as local businesses are being sought to help out.

There are three divisions of players (8-10, 11-12, and 13-14 years of age). Individual player sponsorships are also available at $43 per month, which coves one player’s complete fees, uniform, and equipment. You can even choose the player by going online to the bajafootball.org website. Player sponsors will be kept updated on a player’s performance, not only on the football field, but also in school as well.  And one-time donations of any amount are appreciated, and will be used where needed most.

To be honest, some of the money being collected now is funding the preparation of a US 501(c)(3) certification. Francisco knows that Americans are much more likely to write bigger checks if there is the possibility of a tax deduction involved (or is that just me?).

The Rosarito Tigers football team started one year ago. It’s been found that a major challenge is not only a monetary one, but one of culture. The community, and Mexicans in general, don’t understand American football and its importance. Why try to improve on soccer, right? Little by little American influence is creeping into Mexico, making American-style football more acceptable, but it’s slow-moving. In the future other nearby cities will come compete with Rosarito teams. Local games are scheduled to begin in mid-March.

For more information on upcoming events and fundraisers, contact Francisco Beltran at www.Bajafootball.org.

Popotla Is Not Just Another Trailer Park

Most Rosaritenses know of Popotla Restaurant and the surrounding campo, but what makes this campo stand out is their Homeowners Association, which raises money throughout the year not merely to use on their property, but to benefit charitable organizations in Rosarito.

This year, two personal scooters donated to the HOA from Cruzzin’ Mobility Scooters of Palm Desert, California were auctioned off at the Popotla HOA’s Fourth of July and Labor Day party events.

In addition, cash donations were made by HOA Board members, including President Michael Holliday and Secretary Chris McGuinness, a little before Christmas to the Rosarito Club de Ninos y Ninas (Boys and Girls Club), and the Cruz Roja Voluntarios Americanos of Rosarito and Primo Tapia.

The Homeowners Association raises funds throughout the year in a multitude of ways, including the annual Super Bowl pool and park parties on Memorial Day, Fourth of July and Labor Day, chili cook-offs, auctions, etcetera. Businesses in Rosarito and San Diego are solicited during the year for goods and services, or event tickets. 50/50 raffle tickets are sold at every HOA event, which adds to the coffers. The Board then meets quarterly, assesses the results,  and decides how the funds will be distributed.

You may be asking yourself where the idea for this philanthropy came from. When the Popotla HOA was formally established in 1983, “charity work” was actually written into their Charter. Chartered as a Cultural Deportiva in Mexico, the Popotla HOA focuses on improving community relations through the support of local charities. Since the Club de Ninos y Ninas and Cruz Roja organizations were given preferential status this past year, the Board may authorize donations to any worthy Rosarito charitable organization for their end-of-the-year donations. Past donations have also been awarded to the Rosarito Bomberos, as well as annual holiday bonuses to the park’s employees.

We all have organizations near and dear to our hearts, especially at this time of year. Many of us belong to HOA’s, so let’s take a page from the Popotla HOA handbook and think about giving back to the community, by organizing charity fundraisers within your HOA or neighborhood group.

Pictured in the photo are Board Members Penny Hill, Jewel Donathan, Rosy Torres (Club de Ninos y Ninas President), Jim Zigler, Michael Holliday (PHOA President), Chris McGuinness, and David Atkinson.

Cruz Roja Primo Tapia Hosts General Membership Meeting

The Board of the Primo Tapia branch of the Cruz Roja Voluntarios Americans invites the public to join them for their 2019 General Membership Meeting Saturday, January 12, 11 am at El Pescador Restaurant (just north of Puerto Nuevo). Coffee, tea, and sweet pastries will be offered during the meeting and El Pescador Restaurant will be open for lunch after the meeting.  There will be several mini-raffles sprinkled throughout the meeting, between the reports including financial, ambulance, and Thrift Store totals. You won’t believe how much money this little store donates to the Rosarito Cruz Roja Hospital an ambulance service each month.

The Cruz Roja Primo Tapia Board is seeking new members and persons interested in joining the Board in a variety of positions, including Membership, Technology, and Fundraising.  Some of next year’s fundraising events include a Paella Fest sometime in the spring and the popular Oktoberfest event in October. They wish to thank this year’s sponsors: Judith Douglas Spa, La Mision Fitness, Blue Gallery, del Valle Café, The Shack, Ollie’s Pizza, Happy Hour, Encanto, Splash, Mision Viejo, and Sprouts Chula Vista.

Even though the official title of the organization includes the word ‘’Americanos,’’ the Board and membership is open to all, including Mexican nationals. And the Cruz Roja Primo Tapia is actively seeking Mexican residents  as well as foreign residents to join the Board of Directors. Technically, we are all “Americans,” right?

One big change for 2019 is that all monthly meetings  at El Pescador (held the second Friday of the month at 10 am) will be open to the public.

Whereas, membership dues will remain at $20 per person annually, there will be several membership options available starting January 1.

You say you aren’t Board Member material? he Cruz Roja Primo Tapia Thrift Store is in need of volunteers to keep this venture able to support the hospital and ambulance service; even a couple hours a month would help tremendously. If a monthly commitment doesn’t work into your busy schedule, please consider volunteering for one of this year’s special fundraising events.

You do not have to be a current member to attend the general meeting. Membership forms will be available, and processed on site. And if you aren’t a member yet, why not? If the 50% discount on ambulance service to the US border (valued at $100 or more) isn’t inducement enough, remember that all visits to Rosarito’s Cruz Roja Hospital are discounted 10%. In November I walked into the Hospital without an appointment, was seen by a doctor who diagnosed an ear infection, wrote a medical scrip, gave me an injection to prevent an allergic reaction to mosquitos that I needed for an upcoming trip…all for about $5 US.  What a deal!

For more information, please see the Cruz Roja Primo Tapia website: www.CruzRojaPrimoTapia.com, and check out some of the Thrift Store’s best deals on Facebook at Cruz Roja – Primo Tapia Thrift Store.”

So, What Is the Baja Blues Fest Doing With All That Money?

In November, the Baja Blues Fest President Jackie Alameda presented checks to the children’s organizations benefiting from this year’s annual Blues Fest event at a luncheon hosted by Bobby’s by the Sea.  Checks in the amount of $4,000 (USD) were presented to Rosarito’s Friends of the Library, the Los Angelitos Orphanage, and La Mision Children’s Fund/BECA.

Bev Wilburg, representing La Mision Children’s Fund, a 501(c)(3) organization, stated that the money would be used for the La Mision food bank, which feeds over 1,000 children. Once a month, families pick up a small parcel of beans, rice, pasta, tomato sauce, cooking oil and flour,  the cost of which is about $12. In November and December, families also received a small amount of chicken. On the last Wednesday of the month, Rotary members help to portion and bag these foods for the families. It costs about $1200 (USD) monthly to make up these tiny bundles. Thanks to a sustainable water system that was donated to the group, they are recognized as the only clean, potable water near Ensenada, in case of emergency.

Teresa Savala, representing  the BECA scholarship organization, discussed the schools and their needs in the La Mision area. There is currently a waiting list of students interested in high school. Parents are getting more involved in their children’s education, and more classrooms are being constructed. The money awarded today will be used for tuitions. The fundraising event “Fandango” funds about 90% of BEA’s needs, but BBF’s annual check really helps.  Although BECA is not a 501(c)(3) organization, they are now partners with La Mision Children’s Fund and are under the same “umbrella,” working closely together.

The Mexican government does not fund either of these programs. Books are considered a luxury and unaffordable for most families in Primo Tapia and the neighborhoods in the hills. Authors Darren and Ruby Perman, along with the Baja Blues Fest, donated 20 copies of their children’s book “Wookivoo” to the LMCF/BECA. The Rotary of La Mision has been an excellent partner, but they can’t do it all. For those wishing to help, donations of clothing, foodstuffs, toiletries and sanitary supplies may be left at the La Salina Bar/Restaurant in La Mision.

Friends of the Library past President Susan Shea informed all of us that a UNESCO study rated Mexico in last place in reading, of the 30+ countries studied. That’s sad, but not unexpected from a country that expects students to graduate from the educational system at grade 7! The Friends of the Library promotes reading, not only in libraries, but in schools and in the home. Book donations service all five Rosarito area libraries, a pop-up mobile library that operated in the Reforma last summer, and a new reading room at CEART. FOL has just raised the funds to purchase a bus to be outfitted as a bookmobile, and the funds from the Blues Fest will be used to outfit this new bookmobile. Other forms of income are the spring Home and Garden Tour and the Holiday Home Tour before Christmas.

Los Angelitos was the singular orphanage to benefit from this year’s BBF. Ed Perry manages this home of 20 wards of the court in the Rosarito-Tijuana area, children with nowhere else to go, assigned by the Department of Social Services. Here they enjoy a non-institutional family-style quality of life. The children spend most of the week in their home in Tijuana in order to be closer to their schools. They spend weekends and vacations in their home in the hills between Rosarito and Tijuana in a much healthier atmosphere. Ed receives no government money but operates with donations from friends, the Rosarito Beach Christian Church, and his own monthly Social Security check. About 90% of the operating costs come from angels in the United States. The orphanage does not host fundraisers throughout the year. Mari Cruz, who grew up at Los Angelitos, is in her third year of university, earning a degree in Business Administration, and was very thankful for the opportunities provided to her.

For those keeping score, there wasn’t quite as much money available for the charities in 2018 as in years past. This year there was a major reorganization of powers at the Rosarito Beach Hotel, host hotel of the Baja Blues Fest, and the Hotel’s Board of Directors is now managed by Hugo Torres’ five children. Apparently they, and the HOA of the Rosarito Beach Hotel Condos, are not as charitable as patriarch Hugo has been. The use of the hotel grounds ran more than $8000 (USD) more than last year, and next year is looking even more dismal. Reportedly, the RBH declined to help defray some of the costs that they had helped to pay for in the past. As many of Rosarito’s community organizations have discovered, the RBH is harder to deal with now, and not quite as charitable as they have been in years past. But life goes on.

Needless to say, the BBF Board of Directors is searching for new venues for the 2019 music fest. The Friday night Meet and Greet Music Jam and Dance may be held at a location different from Saturday’s Blue’s Fest. The new venue does not have to be a hotel, as long as it is in the Rosarito area and has lodging nearby for the musicians and out of town guests. The new site will be a better opportunity for vendors and food purveyors, who were severely limited in their offerings this year, not being allowed to serve anything but desserts and sides. No flames allowed meant no spiral cut potato on a stick for me. I want my skewered fried potato…or six. The Blues Fest Board has decided to suspend the Sunday jam session (at least for 2019). This would save the cost of one day’s lodging, food, and venue rental.

The BBF Board is also seeking local businesses and community members as sponsors for bands (lodging, food, transport, etc.) or other costs related to the Blues Fest. Now is a good time to get involved with the Baja Blues Fest. It’s important to keep this an annual cultural destination. The BBF Mission Statement proclaims “promoting northern Baja as a safe and fun place to visit, bringing the residents from the northern and southern boundaries of…Rosarito together.”  Their purpose is to raise money for qualifying charitable organizations that cater to children in Baja California, “expand the cultural activities of our (Rosarito) area.” BBF’s tagline says it best: “Helping Kids with ‘The Blues’.”

FRAO Office Brings Charities Together

Representatives of several of Rosarito’s charity organizations gathered together in the last FRAO (Foreign Residents Assistance Office) meeting to speak a few words regarding their functions. Robin Gunther was concerned that Rosarito’s 2012 Animal Law was not being enforced, which stated that tiny puppies would no longer be sold along the roadside. Baja California Spay & Neuter educates children in animal care, so that they are more aware of how to treat dogs and cats. To this date more than 20,000 animals have been spayed or neutered by this organization, and they receive no money from the City.

Susan Smith informed all about the Flying Samaritans mission to provide health care to over 300 persons a month who cannot obtain health care anywhere else. All doctors and volunteers are just that, volunteers. All money is from memberships, donations, and special events. Jackie Alameda mentioned that the Annual Baja Blues Fest provides funds for education, food, and transportation to many of Rosarito’s children. They also help with documentation for those deported into Mexico with no identification paperwork.

Jim Henshaw, soon to be elected to President of the United Society of Baja California (USBC), identified this group as being the hub of charities for the Rosarito area, and that the Society supports two students in medical university at this time. Mary Moreno, president of Cruz Roja Voluntarios Americanos of Rosarito described that all money received from the Rosarito Thrift Store goes to the Rosarito Cruz Roja Hospital and ambulance service and have just expanded the size of the store. Jeff Failing of Rosarito Sister Cities informed everyone that Sister Cities has been around since President Eisenhower’s creation in the 1950’s, and fully operated by unpaid volunteers, supplying police cars, vests and accessories to the police department, and books to children, pairing Rosarito to Cities in the US and around the world.

Dolly Duff took a few moments to introduce everyone to the DACA Dreamers Assistance Project that focuses on women and young adults who have been deported into Mexico with absolutely nothing, including identification, but primarily asks them to voluntarily deport themselves; and offers them housing, mentoring, job placement and skills to allow them a life in Mexico until they can legally return to the United States via Visa in the future. Mavourneen O’Brien mentioned a few words about the Club de Ninos y Ninas who supervise about 80 children aged 6 – 12, in the afternoons who have no other supervision. Volunteers with a hobby, talent or passion to share are encouraged to spend an hour a week sharing this entity with the children. They are now totally solar-powered.

FRAO meets every month, 10 am on the third Thursday at the Calafia Titanic Room (except December). The FRAO office is located on the ground floor of City Hall, room 108, open Monday – Friday, 8am – 3pm; 661-614-9600, ext. 1080. The office can help you with services including obtaining a driver’s license; residency, answer legal questions, and solve problems.

One of the main motives for this assembly was for foreign residents to complete a five-page survey entitled the “2018 Public Consultation.” Questions covered the topics of development in housing, business, government, and other factors. The survey is available online in Spanish at www.implanrosarito.mx. To obtain a copy in English please contact the FRAO office via email at FRAO@rosarito.gob.mx or through their Facebook page. The City would like to collect everyone’s response before the Christmas break, so get a move on! The City wants to hear from you.

Santas Needed!

This is the time of year to be thinking about giving. If you are still looking for a group worthy of your hearts and thoughts this holiday season, please consider adopting a Kumiai (Kumeyaay) or other local family for Christmas. There are 65 families in the Kumiai community, an Indian reserve one hour into the hills above La Mision, and so many other families also in the hills that have no one to think about them.

Food boxes will feature chicken, fresh produce (purchased the day before delivery), and dry goods, priced at $20. Blankets are $10. Or you can make up your own gift box of food, goods, and gifts, and bring to one of the drop off locations. In return, you will receive a Christmas Thank You card and photo from the family you have helped. You are even invited to accompany Sara and group to San Jose de La Zorra to deliver the holiday gifts.

The deadline is near! The last day to adopt a local or Kumiai family is December 10! For additional information, contact Sara Vega at 661-850-4855 or email to saraenmovimiento@hotmail.com, or contact her on Facebook on either of the pages “Sara Vega” or “Sara.enmovimiento.”

There are several ways to donate to this philanthropic cause: Cash donations may be made through PayPal by contacting Sara at her email address. Or you may make a donation at any local OXXO, into the account 4766-8403-0084-5794. Save your donation receipt and send a photocopy to Sara so she knows whom to thank.

You may donate non-perishable food items, blankets, jackets, or any other winter-related item to either Charley’s Place (k 37) or Betty’s Burgers (on the boulevard just south of the 7-11 / cuota on and off ramps.

Anyone wishing to join the caravan to the Kumiai camp, contact Sara Vega ASAP for cabin reservations, instructions, and logistics of the trip.

The need of the people is great and varied. If you are building your own donation box and in need of suggestions, please contact Sara. Merry Christmas!

Mary Moreno, CR Rosarito President; Contractor, Luis Boroquez; Maricella Maciel, Hospital Representative; and Board members Terry D’Angona and Jerry Allen.

Cruz Roja Rosarito Thrift Store Expands

The sign in the store reads “Come in – we are awesome.” And they are — the Cruz Roja Voluntarios Americanos of Rosarito at the Rosarito thrift Store want you to know that they are going through a bit of an expansion in the next few weeks, but are still open for business!

In October, the Cruz Roja Voluntarios Americanos presented a check to Servicio Boroquez to start work immediately on a new storage room . With the Cruz Roja Hospital’s blessing, about 100 square feet of storage space will be added to the west side of the existing thrift store. The new space will be used to house items being stored for special events, such as the Dama’s Christmas Bazaar, and the Annual Cruz Roja Fashion Show.

By moving the “special items,” more space will become available for the volunteers to process donations of housewares, clothing, and books, and to place them in the shop for sale quickly. The Thrift Store runs on minimal overhead so that more of the money gets to the hospital, which responds to more than 300 emergencies monthly.

The expansion was introduced to the members at the monthly general meeting, and was met with full support. The Thrift Store is open Monday through Saturday, 10 am – 3 pm. Annual membership is a mere $20 per person, and the benefits include a 10% discount on Cruz Roja hospital services, and a 50% discount on ambulance trips to the US border. General meetings are held on the second Thursday of the month at 10 am at Popotla Restaurant. If you have large items, you may even call for a pick up: 661-623-3455.

Hearts of Baja Christmas Toy Drive

As the weather cools, thoughts turn to Christmas. C’mon. By now you’ve realized the days are growing shorter, and the stores are filled with Christmas ornaments AND Halloween candy at the same time.

Many children will not be experiencing a very merry Christmas this year. You can help to guarantee they are not forgotten. Hearts of Baja Children’s Network is announcing their “1000 Dolls and Balls” drive to ensure all local children have something to open on Christmas Day. Now, you can donate any new unwrapped toy to the cause (it doesn’t have to be a ball or a doll). Nor does it have to be a toy. Also needed are all sizes of shoes and clothing, as well as blankets. Sure, “throws” are acceptable, but more children can fit under a blanket than under a throw. You can even help out families by donating non-perishable food items.

No time to shop? You may donate money using PayPal, MasterCard or Visa at the Hearts of Baja website, www.Heartsofbaja.com. Simple. Just do it. Feeling generous? Sign up for a monthly donation of $5 or more. You won’t even feel it; just one less Big Mac each month.

All items may be conveniently dropped off at Click-On Mail Room, Surf Brewing, Charly’s Taqueria, Bobby’s by the Sea, Gary’s La Fonda, La Paloma, Café Conrado, Plan B, or the Judith Douglas Spa. I’m sure readers of the Gringo Gazette live pretty close to one of these fine establishments, or have a handy computer on which to donate funds.

Hearts of Baja, partnering with Baja Outreach and Angel and Rosy Lopez, can now reach additional homes and farms in the hills, not previously served. The more happy kids, the better.

Hearts of Baja Children’s Network thanks you very much, in advance, for your generosity. For more information, or to donate, please visit: www.HeartsofBaja.com, or Hearts of Baja Children’s Network on Facebook.

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