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Thanks to SOME, it’s always Día de Los Ancianos

By Maureen McFadden

Guests at SOME’s (So Others May Eat) weekly Wednesday luncheon, on August 28– as always served under the laurel trees behind the Parroquia – are in for a special treat since the celebration falls on the eve of the Dia de Los Ancianos.

But after nearly 25 years of abundant, healthful and nutritionally balanced meals, served by volunteer visitors and expats, attendees anticipate the social and spiritual occasions and have come to accept being recognized as honored guests. Having lived lives of sacrifice and deprivation as they raised their large families, and having kept alive the Mexican traditions that visitors travel here to experience, they more than deserve it.

Many attend the nonprofit’s pre-lunch classes in health, nutrition, spirituality and leadership, and in the art of helping to raise a compassionate and caring younger generation in Parroquia classrooms, thanks to the Church’s generosity. When luncheons fall in the fifth week of the month, the elderly are asked to invite their grandchildren for a happy, mixed-generation feast and celebration that affirms the elderlies’ position in the family and in the culture.

Joe and Antonette Lim, proprietors of Casa Misionero, Hotel and Spa at 38 Recreo, started SOME in 1989 to serve San Miguel’s elders who range in age from 95 to 65. Unfailingly, 20 percent of their profits from both commercial endeavors go to supporting this ongoing mission. So, remember, when booking a massage or pedicure at the Spa you’re supporting San Miguel’s elderly as well. It’s a win-win situation.

In addition to running a business with 18 employees, Joe and Antonette’s spare time is spent shopping for supplies, distributing gifts, tending to the various needs of the elderly population and keeping in contact with their four children: Grace, a critical care physician in Mexico; Marilyn, who chairs the management program at Morrison University in Nevada; Leilani, financial coordinator of Texas’ Department of Education; and Liz, a senior financial manager for Chrysler.

As for volunteers? Many are hooked, as I am. We’re all touched by the gratitude and genuineness of the elderly population, many of whom walk for miles to attend this weekly gathering, and whose life experiences are etched in their faces. Some of the luncheon’s 125 to 150 weekly guests have been regular attendees for more than 20 years.

“The volunteers especially like serving the guests at table,” explains Antonette Lim. “They appreciate expressing their respect and dignity to the older population. After all, isn’t that what we all want out of life: honor and self-esteem? It’s especially important at the last stage of life when it’s easy to feel a bit left out.”

While rarely actively fundraising, the Lims are happy to receive volunteers at the weekly lunch, as well as to accept monetary and food donations, say a big bag of oranges, boxes of bananas, a few pesos to carry on. For those who want to contribute in a more consistent way, an annual gift from US$5 to US$60 helps provide meals to dozens of San Miguel’s seniors.

As for me, I share with other volunteers the real joy of serving, of understanding that San Miguel is more than a beautiful vacation spot, an escape from the nasty weather at home. If we choose to look, we’ll see that we’re surrounded by people who need our help.

When we give, whether it’s time, or money, or goods, we participate so much more fully in the joys and successes of San Miguel’s citizens, particularly the elderly, who, in the end, teach us so much more and give us so much more than we do them. Serving is my way of thanking those who have cherished and preserved the past, and filled this little city with so much color and light and love.

The author, a New York resident, has donated her expertise in nonprofit branding and messaging to organizations from the US to Nepal to Mexico.

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