I am a grandmother paddling alone over 2,500 miles from Maine to Guatemala. Along the way I will be:
- telling the story of the children who live in the Guatemala City garbage dump community
- honoring their entrepreneurial mothers
- talking about the success of the Safe Passage model school and
- raising funds for additional grades for the school.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Jacksonville: Sharing the Safe Passage Story: Today and Yesterday

Deb on the First Coast Living TV show in Jacksonville
Safe Passage supporter, Pat Ellis, did an amazing job of organizing publicity and presentations in Jacksonville.  A great extra was speaking to the East Arlington Rotary Club.   I felt I was back in Guatemala when Pat shared lots of photos from Safe Passage from over the years.
Chris and I drove from Ponce Inlet, back up to Jacksonville for a few days of talking about Safe Passage.  At the East Arlington Rotary Club we met Judy Smith who had hosted us during our last visit to Jacksonville.
Deb and Rotarian Judy Smith
Mike Selah arranged this and many other Rotary presentations in the Jacksonville area.  Seeing the Rotarians listening with rapt attention to the stories of Safe Passage is always rewarding.  Knowing that the attention will translate into involvement of one more club with the children of the garbage dump is even better.  It makes dealing with my pain so worthwhile.  

Pat Ellis has been volunteering at Safe Passage for many years, providing consulting for the English Program.  In Jacksonville, she hosted Chris and me and arranged for an live interview on FCN TV.  (You can see the segment here, if you can stand getting past the ad and the blank section at the beginning of the clip.)

Pat and Deb on the porch of the Spirituality Center
Pat and another long time Safe Passage volunteer, Claudia, arranged a large group to listen to the stories of Safe Passage at the St. Vincent Spirituality Center, a lovely facility on the St. John's River in Jacksonville.  
Meeting people at the Wine and Cheese reception before the presentation
Many members of the Uptown Civitan club came to hear about Safe Passage.  Two things impressed me about their club.  First, they are all female.  Second, they have been the top Civitan Club worldwide for 11 of the last 30 some years!  What an amazing group of women who serve their community so well!
The amazing Uptown Civitan Club (which Chris and Deb)

Going through Pat's photos of Safe Passage was a great way to immerse myself once again in the lives of the children and families of Safe Passage.

Safe Passage student
Seeing the photos of some of the children and remembering how tough it was for them to deal with challenges they were facing in the dump neighborhood when they first came into the Safe Passage program, brought tears to my eyes.  
Home of a Safe Passage student
Homes of other Safe Passage students
Seeing photos of homes I remember visiting in the neighborhood, reminded me again the depth of the poverty at the dump.  Since Safe Passage is serving the poorest of the poor in the dump community, seeing such students graduate from high school and get rewarding jobs, is even more inspiring!  These graduates are serving as role models: if they can do it, then any child from the dump can be successful, with a little bit of help from Safe Passage.  For Safe Passage to increase the numbers they serve, will require a little bit of monetary help from those of us who have been touched by the stories of the children.
Safe Passage students do succeed!

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