Patronato Pro Niños honors two stellar volunteers

By Ann Muazé

In its 42-year history, Patronato Pro Niños has had numerous volunteers serve in a variety of capacities. Most are among the ranks of newly arrived retirees from the United States and Canada. This year the charity, which provides medical and dental care for San Miguel’s neediest children, is honoring two nonagenarians, Dorothy Jacobs and Gene Crane, for their lengthy and extraordinary services.

Benefit party
Patronato Pro Niños
Sun, Sept 30, 2pm
Los Senderos Bistro
Avenida Central Libramiento Dolores
Tickets US$75 or MX daily equivalent
Lily Castaneda at PPN Development Office, 152-7796

The event will be held on September 30 at Los Senderos Bistro at 2pm. Tickets may be ordered by calling Lily in the Patronato Pro Niños Development Office at 152-7796.

One of Patronato Pro Niños newest board members was curious as to why and how these two exceptional people became involved with the organization.  Here is a summary of her individual interviews with Dorothy and Gene.

Ann Mauazé:  What brought you to San Miguel and how many years have you served on the board of Los Niños?

Dorothy Jacobs: I was widowed in 1984, and a friend brought me to San Miguel in 1986.  We liked it so much that we decided to stay and build a life together here.

I was born in 1917 at home with a cleft palate. Upon seeing me, my mother ordered that I be taken to the hospital immediately for treatment. Undoubtedly that fostered my lifelong interest in medicine, which has been enhanced by both of my sons who are physicians.  I also know from a family member what it is like to live with a facial defect such as skin discoloration. These issues helped lead me to Patronato Pro Niños and the work the organization does for children.

As a young woman, I was a medical records librarian for Mt. Sinai Hospital in New York. My father subsequently offered me a position in his company at a much higher salary than what I was earning at Mt. Sinai, so I moved over to that business. And stayed on when my husband took it over.  I have been on the PPN board since 1987, and intend to stay as long as I am asked. I enjoy it.

Gene Crane: Like Dorothy, I came to San Miguel in 1986 as part of a sight-seeing trip around Mexico.  In the few days that my late wife and I were here, I fell in love with the town.  They say there are five places on earth where the yin and the yang are in perfect harmony.  San Miguel is one of them. We returned three months later, and decided this is where we would live when I retired. Meanwhile I was still working in television in Philadelphia, so we divided our time between these two cities. In 2000, Marty Simon, who was president of PPN, asked me to come on the board and head up the Communications Committee. My expertise was in broadcast media, not print. I had been a radio program host, television anchor, and a producer, but never a writer. That changed. I bought a used typewriter for $50, a ream of paper and a roll of tape. I learned to cut and paste and began pumping out articles for Atención, followed by launching an annual newsletter that told of children we had helped in that year.

Every member of my family has lent support to Los Niños, from my wife, Jean, donating her art, to my son contributing funds, to my nephew donating production services for the newsletters.  It’s been a family affair that makes me very proud.

AM: How has the organization changed since you became part of it?

DJ: As a business woman, I tend to look at the financial side of the operations more than other parts and find that it is increasingly difficult to raise funds. I foresaw this problem eight years ago when times were better and people had more discretionary income.  To me, it was obvious that the bubble couldn’t last. When I was younger I denied myself luxuries in order to ensure that I would not be lacking in later years. Consequently, I am able to make donations such as playground equipment for the new building and fill in other funding gaps as needed. I feel strongly that people have to give of themselves and donate whatever possible. This is something new residents need to understand when they come here. It can’t be all taking and not giving back.

GC: Years ago Patronato Pro Niños was treating 2,000 children at the most. This year, we will most likely exceed 12,000 cases. We now have a healthcare facility with no debt, two dental vans, three dentists, one physician, two drivers, plus administrative staff.  Volunteers visit schools in the ranchos and villages in the campo, informing teachers about our programs, and encouraging them to refer children in need of medical care to us.  Frequently, sick children are spotted by our dentists when the vans go to the schools for a week at a time. The dentists examine and clean the teeth of every child. Both vans are fully equipped so the dentists can also provide fillings and handle extractions as needed.

AM: How do you feel about being honored for your service to Patronato Pro Niños?

DJ: I am proud to be a member of what I believe is the strongest board in the city.  We have more men than before, more Mexican nationals, and without a huge increase in the budget, are caring for more children.  I have always supported our events and thought the Noche in Monte Carlo was an excellent way to raise public awareness as well as funds.  The preview party before our annual auction to thank the donors was just another way of our giving something back to the community.

GC: I am humbled. It is my hope people will come to Los Senderos on September 30 to show their support for the wonderful work done by all of the Outreach and Walking Tour volunteers and staff, not just Dorothy and me.

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