Dear Friends, Donors, Volunteers, and Allies,
It’s been a difficult and challenging year worldwide, and we’re enormously grateful for all the generous support you’ve provided to keep Place of Hope alive and active – cash and online donations, gifts of saleable items for Micky’s Place thrift shop, corporate donations, volunteer helpers at the kitchen, members of the Administrative Council, and organizational support for fund-raising and publicity.
We received over $8,300 in cash and online donations during 2020, but month-to-month variations of income, plus the onset of the pandemic, made it necessary to reduce our activities to three days a week, which will continue until public health conditions improve significantly and donations permit.
The arrival of the pandemic necessitated rethinking of our program because our elders would be among the most vulnerable to viral contagion. We suspended the breakfast program entirely from March through August, out of abundance of caution, but eventually resumed the program on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays in the outdoor patio area, where social distancing, handwashing and mask precautions can be controlled to minimize risk, while the elders receive their breakfast in take-away containers.
Christmas celebration took a different form in 2020, due to pandemic precautions. We served a special menu including baked chicken, turkey, rice, salad, and colada. Goodie bags with cookies and candies were handed out after the meal, and were greatly appreciated.
The Passing of Micky Enright – In April 2020, our dear founder and president emerita, Micky Enright, passed away, months after suffering an incapacitating stroke in August, 2019. Her loving caretakers – James Scarberry and Daysi Villagomez (Scarberry), Salome, Lored, Panchita and Estela — provided 24×7 care and affection during her convalescence, and last December 2019, we were fortunate to provide Micky with a loving tribute from the dozens of elders attending the Christmas party.
In her honor, we added Micky’s portrait to the main mural in the dining room, as a permanent tribute to her generous idealism and community spirit. Local artist, and Cotacachi Ambassador of Arts, Sayana Tuquerrez was the artist commissioned for the portrait.
Antoinette Mehler, Bill Schuler, BJ Blyth, Candace Burch, Carol Small & Hank Tujagu, Casey McCarthy, Christina de Cristo, Chuck & Susan Bussey, David Arney, David Ward, Donald Spainhour, Duane Neal, Gasia Klimczak, Guy Fitzgerald, James Kidder, Janet Narum, Jean Gagnon, Jeffrey Preston, Jim Ruth, Joannes Gorenendijk, Kate Lindeman-Schutt, Kenneth Armstrong, Kerry Warden, Leona Owens, Lewis Johnson, Linda Wussow, Louise Keim-Loesch, Louise Vonhagen, Lucille May, Marcia Cornale, Mary Jones, Mary Ratliff, Merlin Williams, Nancy Kettering, Norah Rocha, Pamela Throckmorton, Papa Madre Ltd, Patricia King, Peggy Gunter, Robert Brown, Robert Sepulveda, Robert Teaver, Rolanda Poissant Ross, Ruth Lee, Sally Korff Bergstedt, Sedgwick Heskett, Susan Allen, Susan Murray, Terri Lee Scarberry, Tom Graff, Uforia Salon, Vince Cantella.
Without your generous support, we wouldn’t have been able to restore the program to 3 days a week!
Our program depends on the coordination of a group of generous volunteers who give of their time and affection to provide food and happy companionship to our indigenous elders. Our friendly Volunteer Coordinator, Susan Bussey, oversees the scheduling to make sure that the kitchen has people to help with food setup, serving, and cleanup. She also helps coordinate our fundraising events during the year.
Susan’s husband, Chuck, is our eagle-eyed facilities manager, tending to repairs and upkeep of the 3 buildings that have been granted for our use by agreement with local and federal authorities. Chuck and Susan also work with our thrift store managers, Salome and Alison, to oversee the receiving, sorting and routing of donations from Jet Blue and other donors. Some donations (such as canes, eyeglasses, blankets etc.) go directly to needy elders, while other items are sent to Micky’s Place thrift store for sale.
Thanks to our roster of 2020 volunteers for their caring contributions to the program:
|James Scarberry||Chuck Bussey|
|Daysi Villagomez (Scarberry)||Janet Narum|
|Burton Johnson||Mary Hellman|
|Ken Fordham||Sidney Wise|
|Carol Teguns||Alma Thomas & Marcos Pazmino|
|Don Simms||Bob Lanzilotta|
|Taty Teran and her mom||Bruce Finch|
|Blanca and Jairo Morales, Maite, Kevin||Kate Schutt|
|Lynda Wussow||Susan Bussey|
|Heidi Small||Don Martella|
|Mayra Alexandra Morales||Alison Gallardo|
Susan’s reflections as volunteer coordinator
It has been a difficult year emotionally for all of the volunteers. We have faced the pandemic, which in our area included restrictions that prevented having people together in a group, prevented anyone other than residents of the barrio from entering each day, and prevented serving food without special permission from the city.
While we want to provide meals for our elders who have become so dear to our hearts, we have also faced the fact that it is not completely safe for either us or for our elders for us to do this. Some of us (volunteers) have health issues that prevent us from our usual interaction since the pandemic began, and most of us have reached the age that is in the category of high risk to the virus.
Currently we are working within still very specific guidelines, which allow us to serve breakfast outdoors only, masks on everyone, hands sanitized upon entering the property, spacing the elders’ chairs 6 feet apart, and serving the meal into their personal cups and dishes where they are seated in the courtyard. We definitely all miss our daily handshakes and hugs for, and from, these sweet people we have come to love! But we are glad we are once again able to give them this hope of a nutritious morning meal to begin their day.
As is true for everyone around the world, we all hope for a near future where we will all still be careful with our health, but where we will be able to return a little more toward “normal” interaction with our program.
I want to give a huge THANK YOU to all the volunteers involved in every way possible. You are very much appreciated!
The store is now open two days a week, to increase our sales of donated items. We’ve also added a large bin where people can donate staple items like rice, tuna, sugar, and pasta for distribution to elders so they can prepare food at home during the off days of the breakfast program. Thanks to Salome and Alison, Alan, and Steven for managing the store as volunteers, and to Heidi for adding the bulk staple collection point at Coo Coo’s Nest plaza.
When the pandemic set in and we had to shut down our daily breakfast program, we convened a group of other community organizations and activists to address the acute and long-term food needs that our elders and their communities were facing. We met for months to help coordinate donations of over $1500 of emergency food kits to different communities and families, and collaborated to distribute 150 egg-laying chickens to 30 families in 6 communities. Over their lifespan, these 150 chickens will produce an estimated 50,000 eggs per year, providing the families with food and with the possibility to start small family businesses to sell surplus eggs or trade them for other food products.
We look forward to continuing the chicks project with donations to other families. If you want to contribute to this effort, please specify Comidas Unidas in your donation note. Chicks and startup supplies average $3 per chick, or $15 per family.
The more extensive plans for Comidas Unidas include creation of community seed banks and gardens, activation of community kitchens, and exploration of alternative crops (such as hemp) to increase economic yield of the family and community plots.
Our new webmaster, James Scarberry, has done a masterful job of re-designing our Place of Hope website at https://ecuadorprojecthope.org/. We now own our own domain and have expanded our online donation capabilities through our fiscal sponsor relationship with the Wichana Foundation, which enables tax-deductible donations at https://www.wichana.org/projecto-3.
Working with Urku May of Wichana Foundation, local activist and breadmeister, Yanneck Pack, organized an event in October 2020 to provide publicity for several local programs that serve elderly and underserved populations in Cotacachi. Place of Hope was honored to be included in the Fair, to publicize our efforts and build wider support for the program.
In December 2020, Place of Hope volunteers helped with painting and decorative artwork for the new Wichana Foundation office and store in Cotacachi. Working with ancestral Kichwa themes, artist Sayana Tuquerrez created an enchanting atmosphere of antiquity which is now being revived after centuries of neglect and colonial suppression.
In November, we worked with neighborhood leaders and elders to get our field plowed, and then sowed our routine crops of corn, beans, peas, broccoli, squash, and cabbage, which we use to supplement our food supplies in the kitchen. The elders are always eager to be on the field crews and to help with the upkeep of the grounds.
We’ve continued our outreach into urban neighborhoods by providing food kits (bread, fruit, hardboiled eggs) to 30 elders and poor neighbors. For the holidays, we added bags of cookies and sweets, in keeping with local traditions. Lulu Caranqui delivers the kits three times a week.
Good News! Jet Blue renewed its pledge to donate roundtrip tickets to the US for our 2021 raffle fundraiser. In December, they delivered a van-full of donations, including tuna, rice, lentils, pasta, sugar, salt, oats, cooking oil, and colada mix. These were all be taken to the Kitchen to be prepared for our elders. The strollers, car seats, a child’s rolling luggage bag, lots of neck pillows and blankets, adult and children’s clothing, shoes, toys, books, a LeapFrog pad, and a box full of videos were sent to Micky’s Place thrift shop for sale. Bravo, Jet Blue!
Happy New Year from the Board!
Fred Hosea, President
Fernando Correa, Vice President
Salome Alvear, Secretary
Ana Guevara, Treasurer
You can also check our Facebook group page for other updates, photos, and videos of what we’re doing, by clicking here!
From the Place of Hope Board , Administrative Council and Volunteers