Puerto Vallarta, Mexico - Some of my friends are really old. I can tell, because they remember the fairground ride, The Tunnel of Love. Back in the 1950's and before, these rides served a necessary social function; as Dave Samuelson writes in The American Amusement Park, "the darkness became a big draw for romantically inclined couples looking for a little intimacy in a time when any public display of affection was frowned upon." For our younger readers, an excellent description of the place where our forefathers/mothers formative gropes and sloppy tongue-kisses of their sparkling youth occurred can be found at hopesandfears.com.
Fast forward a few decades, change the first letter from a "T" to an "F" and you will find in Puerto Vallarta a Funnel of Love. It's a club known as the IFC or International Friendship Club. The club raises money, draws thousands of volunteer hours and is supported by dozens of businesses around town. All these benefits are then funnelled down to hundreds of Mexican kids who need help.
A majority of all money raised by IFC comes for the operation of the Home Tours. A club member works hard asking homeowners to allow the club to show their homes to tourists and residents. Others take the money, provide name tags and act as guides and docents on the 44-passenger buses to ensure that everyone has a safe and pleasant time. The generosity of the homeowners is a key component to the IFC's success.
Last year the club had over 600 members; some of whom were actively engaged in club activities and some who bought their membership just to get the discounts at restaurants and businesses. It took dedicated volunteers to walk the streets and contact the owners of over 100 of these supporting businesses. Without them membership fees would be down and kids would not have been helped. IFC appreciates the volunteers and the businesses.
Other volunteers run the social activities and bring money into the funnel. Movie nights are popular, lectures are sometimes overflowing, bridge is taught and played, happy hour on Fridays is well attended and special events are enjoyed and provide further funds. The level of commitment to the club's mission "to raise and distribute funds and provide volunteer service in response to the medical, humanitarian and educational needs of the Mexican community" by its members and supporters is amazing.
Funnels have both a top and a spout. Where does all the money and the support go?
Financial assistance is given to a variety of programs and charities, including: ALAS Escuela de Canto, American School, Arroyos de Esperanza, Orquestra Escuela de PV, IAMPV, SETAC Community Center, the Volcanes Education Project, Casa Hogar Maximo Cornejo, Corazon de Niña, Dives in Miseracordia, Clinica Sta. Barbara de Rehabiltacion Vallarta, Pasitos de Luz, Salvation Army (Ejercico de Salvacion)and CANICA Niños Con Cancer Asociacion. Each of these organizations is contacted throughout the year to ensure the club's support is being used wisely. That takes volunteers too.
It seems not to matter how or whether you are religiously inclined at this time of year; everyone has something to celebrate. Members of the International Friendship Club have much to celebrate after another very successful year of fundraising and providing help to Mexican children and we would like to thank everyone who contributed to its success. Muchas gracias!The International Friendship Club is a registered charitable organization in Mexico listed as Club Internacional de la Amistad de Puerto Vallarta A.C. It is located at the northeast corner of the Rio Cuale Bridge above the HSBC Bank, Colonia El Centro, Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco, Mexico, 48300. Phone: 322-222-5466. Website: ifcvallarta.com Email: ifcvallarta(at)gmail.com