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Puerto Vallarta News NetworkVallarta Living | June 2009 

Becas Vallarta Counting on Big Numbers
email this pageprint this pageemail usPolly G. Vicars - PVNN

Judy de Galeana helps new becada, Isla, to sign in

Pat Bendix helps Moms and students sign in for the meeting

President Mariel de Fregoso greets the becados with her beautiful smile

Husband picked the best seat in the house next to the beautiful Lans girls

Parents and students listening attentively

The number attending was greater than the chairs provided, but no one seemed to mind

This Dad had a question for President Mariel

Mariel meets 1-on-1 with a becada and her Mom

The 10 am group of becados posed for their photo

The 11 am group of becados also posed for their photo
You might know that Chris Matthews on MSNBC’s Hardball has a feature he calls the “Big Number.” Husband and I have our own ‘big numbers’ that, amazingly, get bigger and bigger. July 4th will be our 58th wedding anniversary, July 16 will be Husband’s 81st birthday and August 29th will mark our 21st year of retirement in paradise, i.e. Puerto Vallarta.

But the ‘biggest number’ we mark is the number of Puerto Vallarta young people of scarce economic resources whom we help to get the education they desire and deserve through Becas Vallarta, A.C.(America-Mexico Foundation, Inc.) This number is in the 1000's since the inception of the foundation in the early 1960's.

On Sunday, June 14, President Mariel de Fregoso, her husband, Carlos Fregoso, President of the US component of Becas, America-Mexico Foundation, Inc., Vice Presidents Pat Bendix, Linda Azcarate and your truly, each with our husbands Richard Bendix, Eduardo Azcarate and Hubert Vicars AKA Husband, Becas Past President Mary Ellis, 40 year active Becas member Judy de Galeana and new devotee Lenny Ambrose, rose early to meet at our wonderful Los Mangos Library to prepare to greet all of our junior high scholarship girls and boys and their parents.

It was a hot and muggy morning preceding the rainy season oft predicted to start on the 15th of June. No matter the heat, 11 dedicated Mexicans and USAers hauled tables and folding chairs to the Sala Bernice Starr (named for the founder of Becas,) put the starched white covers on the chairs and generally readied the Sala for the more than 150 students from 14 different junior highs with their Moms and Dads who were coming in 3 different groups

This meeting, 1 of the 3 required meetings of all scholarship students, is the only one when the parents are obligated to attend. Days before and behind the scenes, Secretary Syliva Sorenson, had prepared more than 300 letters to be given to the students and parents when they sign in thus signifying that they and their parents are in attendance. These letters explained the program (1 copy to go home with the student and 1 signed copy testifying that it had been read and understood) and invited the students to the next meeting, which will be August 14 and 15.

The students and their parents come with big smiles and great courtesy. Once signed in they proceed orderly and happily to the meeting room. The kids and their parents really make a larger number than the room should hold, but they (sit or stand) patiently and attentively while Mariel explains the program, answers questions, presents the representatives of Alexandra Meza’s local Department Store Lans.

Lans has long been a supporter of Becas and does all it can to make the process easy for the students and less expensive for the foundation. The two attractive young women explain the system of vouchers with which the students will buy their school and gym uniforms and their school and tennis shoes for the coming school year. They can go into Lans as soon as school is out, find their sizes and put them on what we would call lay-away until the August 14 meeting when they will receive their vouchers and then can retrieve their purchases.

We divide the junior high school meetings into 3 sessions, with the first session at 10 am for half of the schools and the second at 11 am for the other half. Then at 12 noon we meet with those students going on to senior high and their parents.

Since this is a whole new system, Mariel explains the differences between this program and the junior high one. She also emphasizes that as long as the students keep their grade point averages at a 8.5 or above, we will continue their scholarships all the way through university. This statement is always greeted with a loud cheer!

As senior high scholarship students they will be given the responsibility for their schooling funds. The stipend of $5500 pesos is paid in 2 equal parts and is theirs to budget for their most pressing financial needs, whether it be transportation, clothing, school supplies or other. Our experience is that they handle this money prudently and with great care even though this is probably their very first experience having that much money at their disposal.

When the last meeting is over, the students and the parents help with the dismantling of the chairs and tables and restore the library to its previous arrangement. Hardly a student leaves without a quiet gracias, a hug and a smile to one of us Becas members.

As for us, how could we not leave with our hearts full of joy and the determination that the Big Numbers marking unemployment, the falling stock market or the failing businesses, will be supplanted in our minds by the Big Number of donations we will stop at nothing to obtain.

We are so proud to see that through education these Becas students are changing themselves, their families and Puerto Vallarta into a better world.

You, too, can fill your heart with joy by helping us to help them. Your donations are tax deductible in the US or Mexico and can be mailed from the US to American-Mexico Foundation, Inc., 2163 Lima Loop, Laredo, Texas 78045 or from Mexico to Becas Vallarta, A.C., Blvd. Fco. Medina Ascencio #2189, Edificio Andrea Mar Loc. 7 & 8, Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco Mexico 48319.

With your donation you can honor a departed love one, a friend's birthday, anniversary or other special occasion or you can sponsor for one year a junior high student for $160 US, a senior high student for $550 US and a university student for $700 US.

You can become one of a very select group of Compadres or Comadres by donating $5000 US or more, which will enable us to give more students scholarships. You can also attend our money making functions during the high season.

And importantly, you can know that because our devoted members donate their time, money and equipment, we have no paid employees, no office, no telephone, nor office equipment so that every penny you donate goes directly to scholarships. Yours are the BIG NUMBERS we count on.

To learn more about Becas Vallarta, click HERE or visit If you would like to volunteer or make a tax deductible donation, please call Polly Vicars at 011-52-322-223-1371 or Buri Gray at (322) 221-5285, or send an email to becasvallarta(at)

Polly G. Vicars and her husband of almost 60 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 articles by Polly Vicars, or click HERE to learn more about Becas Vallarta and the America-Mexico Foundation.

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
the included information for research and educational purposes • m3 © 2009 BanderasNews ® all rights reserved • carpe aestus