Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco, Mexico - Last week, Maria and I had the pleasure of meeting up with Dennis Rike, the Commander of the American Legion Post 14 in Banderas Bay. We had previously met Dennis as one of our guests on the radio show El Foco (91.9FM C7 Radio, Mondays at 4:00 pm). We loved talking with him about the number of projects the American Legion has going on around the bay.
As we believe part of the difficulties charitable organizations (whether environmental or otherwise) face is the lack of awareness of their projects, (which then leads to lower volunteer involvement and lower funding), I wanted to share some of the American Legion's successes in Puerto Vallarta.
The American Legion is dedicated to creating a support network for US Veterans at home and abroad. Post 14 of the Banderas Bay, as part of the American Legion's department of Mexico, works closely with veterans living in the region to make sure they can access health care, consular services, and other benefits. Although the American Legion's main purpose is "Veterans helping veterans," they have also created an important presence in the communities in which they reside, forming mentoring programs, volunteering their time and expertise to active community improvement projects, and even funding social change endeavors. The Banderas Bay post has been no exception.
In the past couple of years, the American Legion has tapped into and helped create a network of community activism to be reckoned with. To complete their projects they have worked alongside PV's Navy League, Piratas M.C. (Harley Davidson Riders), His Will His Way ministry, Kelly Trainor-Consular Agent of Puerto Vallarta, and the DIF (Family Integral Development, a Mexican government agency), as well as many other good-willed individuals and businesses of the region.
Through their donation of expertise and manpower, and the generous funding of the Jay-Sadler Project, and other charitable donors, the American Legion and its partners have rehabilitated many of the spaces meant to support very special parts of our society.
They have fixed playgrounds in San Vicente and Guamuchil, used their electrical and plumbing expertise to restore water to the bathrooms and improve the bathroom and kitchen facilities at a Junior High school in Boca de Tomatlán, and successfully fundraised for Busca un Amigo Pitillal.
They are currently helping to re-tile the roof at the Santa Barbara Rehabilitation Clinic, establishing a maintenance program for a playground in Aurora, assisting in setting up additional classrooms at the School for the Deaf in San Vicente del Mar, and aiding in raising the wall and installing a sidewalk at Busca un Amigo Pitillal.
The voting members of the American Legion are exclusively US veterans, however, they welcome veterans of any country, as well as civilians to join as associate members and join their community service projects. If you would like to become involved with any of these worthwhile initiatives, I invite you to explore their website, americanlegion14.org, or join them during their open meetings at Steve's Bar on Basilio Badillo on the third Tuesday of every month.Originally printed in the Vallarta Tribune.