Farley W. Wheelwright Citizen of the Year

By Layla Wright Contreras

Did you know that every week more than 200 elderly Mexicans in need receive a hot, nutritional sit-down comida (meal) for free thanks to So Other May Eat, or S.O.M.E.?  Started  in 1999 by Antonette and Joe Lim, on special occasions (like Mother’s Day) S.O.M.E. not only feeds up to 500 people, but accompanies the meal with spiritual songs and prayers as well as useful workshops which empower the participants who then bring knowledge, education and useful advice back to their families and communities.

Award ceremony: The Rotary Midday Farley W. Wheelwright Citizen of the Year Award To Joe and Antonette Lim. Tue, Feb 14, 12:15pm. Hotel Real de Minas. More information: http://rotarysma.clubwebsource.com/index.cfm?display=program

The Lims are the recipients of the Fifth Annual Citizen of the Year Award from the Rotary Club of San Miguel de Allende-Midday who presents this honor to community members who best represent the ideals of Rotary, including the concept of “service above self.” This is the first year the award has been renamed the Farley W. Wheelwright Citizen of the Year Award, and the Lims will receive this award in recognition of their many contributions to what is often a forgotten sector of society in need in San Miguel: the viejitos or elderly.

A long journey

S.O.M.E.’s history of helping the elderly locally goes back over 20 years, but at its heart is the life-time commitment of Antonette and Joe to help the elderly. It all began in the Lim’s native Philippines, where at a very early age Antonette got involved with her own grandmother to visit old-age homes and distribute food; 44 years ago when Joe married Antonette he became a partner in this cause which has traveled with them from the Philippines to Canada and finally to San Miguel where they have lived for the past 30 years.

So Others May Eat began in San Miguel in 1999 with the help of then parish priest Rev. Fr. José Bautista and Mother Fatima who helped approach the spiritual needs of the elderly as the Lims set up a team to establish a feeding program for the elderly at the Parroquia. At first, around 80 people came a week —thanks to news on the radio and, mostly, by word of mouth. The program is sustained thanks to 20 percent of all proceeds of The Spa and a handful of private donors.

The reach is S.O.M.E.thing amazing!

In visiting S.O.M.E in action, we saw a group of volunteers expertly setting up food stations and organizing tables. One could hear the sound of singing coming from a nearby classroom where a meeting of the viejitos (aged 60 to 95) was taking place, among other things they were learning how to “bathe” with a liter of water and how they could substitute  bicarbonate or even tortilla ashes for expensive toothpaste —part of an emphasis on personal hygiene, particularly in this winter weather.

Each table groups people by age and has a leader who communicates the needs of the members and organizes visits/support if someone from the group is sick. All participants receive a liter of milk and a can of refried beans to take home.

S.O.M.E. extraordinary accomplishments:

•          Over 200,000 meals served.

•          1,600 blankets distributed during winter.

•          2,000 aprons and shawls given as gifts on Mother’s Day.

•          51,840 liters of milk and canned refried handed out.

•          Grandparents adult education and leadership training is currently operating in 6 colonias and 8 ranchos.

•          Existence of family social integration program.

•          Provision of alternative health education and personal hygiene program.

•          Spiritual guidance and preparation of death through the “Circle of Friends” program.

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