By Russell T. Greene and S. Price
Every autumn people across North America eagerly anticipate Black Friday (weekend beginning November 25) and Buen Fin (weekend beginning November 18), the kick off for sales to begin their holiday shopping sprees. At the same time, people with a desire to support charitable and non-profit organizations have balanced retail spending with philanthropic giving. Giving Tuesday, which happens on November 29 this year (the last Tuesday in November), was created as “a day to encourage people to do good.”
In Huatulco many charitable organizations and community groups have benefitted from the generosity of tourists, snowbirds, and a growing number of permanent residents who look for ways to support their homes away from home. Donations of time and money have contributed to the local Red Cross, built and supported rural schools and provided much needed medical equipment. Each completed project, and the donations given, is a testament to the calling many of us have to help people living in vulnerable situations.
It’s with the calling of being a Christian that Randy Clearwater and his wife Kimberly were determined to feed the hungry, cloth the unclothed and provide shelter, especially to the widowed, the elderly, and single mothers. After volunteering themselves in Canada, Randy and Kimberly wanted to bring similar charitable work to Oaxaca, though on a smaller scale and in keeping with local culture.
To fulfill this ongoing mission, the generosity of individuals who see the life-changing results of their efforts is needed. Donations in the form of food, clothing, building supplies, and – of course – money are constantly needed. Without the continued support of all, nothing happens.
On September 7, 2017, an 8.2 magnitude earthquake struck southern Mexico, with its epicenter in the Isthmus region. In a rapid response, Randy delivered food hampers to the community of Chahuites, a small, impoverished mountain community east of Salina Cruz, four hours from Huatulco. While there, it became evident that in addition to food security, families were in need of safe housing and basic furnishings.
With the help of local residents, families in greatest need were equipped with material to rebuild their homes. Since 2017, the community has come together to give of their labour, skills and resources to construct 12 casas including making their own cement bricks, adding metal roofs, doors and windows. Randy and Kimberly have travelled several times to Chahuites to witness the progress and they are so thankful for the hearts and generosity of the donors who have made this possible.
Following the 2020 earthquake (magnitude 7.4), with an epicenter near Salina Cruz, and Hurricane Agatha in May 2022, which made landfall at Puerto Angel, access to safe housing and simple comforts like a bed to sleep in and a table to eat at became growing priorities. So, in 2022, Safe Shelters Huatulco was developed alongside the Huatulco Food Bank to give donors an option to support different projects in the community.
Safe Shelters Huatulco has been focused on building basic furniture like bunk beds, tables and shelving to provide the comforts of home. Local pastor Wilfri Justiniano serves as a community liaison and has been identifying families in the area that will benefit from this work. In many families, parents have a bed in which to sleep, but children often sleep on the ground. The cost to build a single bunk bed strong enough to hold the weight of multiple children and withstand the elements is substantial – the lumber alone is well over $5,000 mxn ($250 US).
While there will be volunteer opportunities to build the furniture in the future, there is a constant need for financial support through donations and fund-raising. Without the generous contributions of time and money, these projects are not sustainable.
This November 29, take a moment to consider what is important to you and find a local charity or nonprofit group that needs your support. And remember that while Giving Tuesday makes it easy to get the donations started, your support is needed all year long.
If you would like to support Safe Shelters Huatulco, please donate through PayPal (@rlclearwater) or Interac (firstname.lastname@example.org).