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Puerto Vallarta News NetworkVallarta Living | December 2006 

It Really Does Take a Village
email this pageprint this pageemail usPolly G. Vicars - PVNN

Los Bambinos

1st prize winner Natividad Orozco Franco

2nd prize winner - Hector Manuel, Mama Rosalina Flores Ramos and sister María del Sagrario Urista Flores

Kai Doyle – Becas member buying a raffle ticket

Sylvia & Vern Sorenson – Audience & Becas members

Teressa & Henk Ryssemus - Audience & Becas members
Merriment filled the Santa Barbara Theater's Becas Night on December 18th as Los Bambinos finished their first set to cheers and whistles. What followed for Natividad, Orozco Franco and Hector Manuel Urista Flores, more than equaled the elation of Los Bambino's approving audience.

But first things first. In Puerto Vallarta in the early 1960's, celebration was also in the air when the very first junior high school, Escuela Secundaria Tecnica #3 Eti, opened.

Until that time, Vallarta children wishing to continue past the mandated 6th grade education had to move to Guadalajara or Tepic, making it almost impossible for the average child, much less those in poor households.

Bernice Starr, a Californian, had moved to Puerto Vallarta for a more tranquil life, but it wasn't long until she put aside tranquility to tirelessly work for the children in her neighborhood.

She was excited on the day that La Eti opened; but soon the excitement was quelled when she noted that almost none of the children around her enrolled. She made discrete inquiries and found that the cost of buying the obligatory uniforms and school books (not furnished by the government) made it impossible for most children to attend.

You would have to have known Bernice to understand what this did to her. She immediately rounded up several of the neighbor ladies, Mexican and American, and proceeded to raise funds so that those children could go to school. From that small beginning the America-Mexico Foundation, Inc. (Becas Vallarta, A.C.) emerged.

To date, thousands of bright Puerto Vallarta young people of scarce economic resources have been afforded the opportunity to not only finish junior high, but high school and university.

This school year there are almost 300 scholarship students, 8th grade through university, reaping the rewards of Bernice's tireless work, now continued by a small group of caring Mexicans, Americans and Canadians with the generous participation of the artistic and business communities of Puerto Vallarta.

So what does any of that have to do with Nativida and Hector Manuel? Keeping 300 young people in school requires members of the Foundation and our friends to raise money year round with activities ranging from the elegant Becas Ball to selling ribbon bracelets on the street corners and the beaches, and previously a raffle in conjunction with the annual Becas Ball.

This year, we decided to sell the $10 pesos raffle tickets early and award the prizes at a Los Bambinos Concert at the Santa Barbara. That was very appropriate as Los Bambinos, the local musical group of four brothers and a cousin, have chosen this foundation to support with 10% of the gross proceeds from their CD sales. Additionally, Ed Hutmacher, the owner of the Santa Barbara Theater, matches those funds for all of their CDs sold at the theater.

So at the intermission of Los Bambinos's Concert, Mary Ellis and Mariel Fregosa presidents of the AMF and Becas Vallarta respectively, called a youngster vacationing in PV with his parents, to draw the winning tickets.

The lesser prizes of Santa Barbara show tickets and jewelry were drawn first. I promise that the fix was not in when young Jared pulled my number for the lovely silver bracelet.

The emotion mounted as the drawing for the top two prizes, $3000 and $5000 pesos. The aforementioned Hector Manuel Urista Flores' ticket was drawn first as the winner of the $3,000 pesos and Natividad Orozco Franco's ticket for the $5000 pesos prize.

Neither were in attendance, but the knowledgeable crowd applauded appreciatively when told that both the winning tickets had been sold by scholarship students and the winners were either family or friend.

Hector Manuel Urista Flores is only 13 years old, so when he came the next day to collect his prize, his mother, Rosalina Flores Ramos, and María Del Sagrario Urista Flores, his sister and the scholarship student who sold him the ticket, accompanied him.

Hector is in the last year of elementary school and his sister is in her third semester of high school at Modulo Ixtapa. Mama was definitely in control when they were asked what plans they had for the $3000 peso prize.

Even though Hector had saved his own money to buy his one $10 pesos raffle ticket, Mama thought each of the children should get a share, but the rest should go to the entire family to make their holiday a little better.

The children were happy and proud to share with their family and left with those wonderful smiles so prevalent in Vallarta and the knowledge that Christmas would be a little merrier in their casa this year.

Natividad Orozco Franco's ticket won the $5000 peso prize. She bought the ticket from her niece, Eliana Susana Galeana Mejía, a second year junior high scholarship student at school #29, Las Aralias. She came alone to collect her prize and when asked what she planned to do with her prize, answered with great smile, "¡Tener una Feliz Navidad!" (I will have a wonderful Christmas!)

So "It Takes a Village," thought a trite phrase by some, is brought to life in the story of Hector, Natividad and Becas Vallarta! From our extraordinary founder, Bernice, to the foundation's women and men who unselfishly gave and give their time and their money, to the friends, businesses, artists and musicians who, year after year, donate to keep this incredible foundation going - we form a village of caring people who quietly make our adopted home or vacation spot a better place for all!

You can join us by volunteering your time or your money. Have time to donate? Call me at 223-1371. Have money to donate? Give it to any member or mail from the US or Canada to: America-Mexico Foundation, Inc., PMB 078-380, 827 Union Pacific, Laredo, Texas 78045-9452.

In Mexico, mail to Becas Vallarta, AC, Blvd. Fco. Medina Ascencio #2189. Edificio Andrea Mar Loc 7 & 8, CP 48319, Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco, Mexico. Donations are tax deductible in both the USA and Mexico. For more information see our webpage at or call me.

To see Los Bambinos in Concert at the Santa Barbara, call Ed at 223-2048 for reservations for their New Year's Eve show or subsequent Sunday concerts in January and February.
Polly G. Vicars and her husband of 55 years, Hubert (a.k.a. "Husband") retired to Puerto Vallarta in 1988 and soon became active members of several charitable organizations. Polly is the author of "Tales of Retirement in Paradise: Life in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico" [a sell-out!] and "More Tales of Retirement in Puerto Vallarta and Around the World." Proceeds from the sale of her books go to the America-Mexico Foundation, a scholarship foundation that is their passion.

Click HERE for more Puerto Vallarta articles by Polly Vicars.

In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving
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