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Honoring the “Angels Unaware” of Centro Infantil San Pablo

By Mireille Rita Grovier, Photography by Barbara Merritt Espinosa

Hebrews 13: 2 says: “Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unaware.” All of the volunteering angels at Centro Infantil San Pablo are hardly strangers to the faculty, the advisory committee and, most especially, to the children for whom they contribute so much of their time and resources.

For several years now, during the months of February and March, Joan Nagle has been teaching the five-year-olds of the school how to swim. She takes them each for one hour three times a week to Xote, one of San Miguel’s most popular hot springs and water parks.

Assisting in these lessons are volunteers Anne Lewis, Barbara and Ed Fouhy, Bob and Dianne Doupe, Bob Gravilin, June Sturrock, Eleanor Jaffe, Mike Landers and Pat MacLean. Many of these “angels unaware” have been with the program since its inception five or six years ago.

Joan supplies all of the equipment that the children need: the bathing suits, caps, buoyancy belts and the noodles. The funds that support the swimming program—the transportation and entrance fees, etc.—are the result of generous donations from the women in the aqua aerobics class at the Chatham Health Club in Chatham, Massachusetts.

Joan teaches a very popular water aerobics class prior to her hours with the children. She has been in the field of aquatics for more than 60 years, teaching swimming, diving, synchronized swimming and aqua aerobics. Upon her retirement in 1997, she moved to San Miguel de Allende and has continued to be involved in water programs here in San Miguel and in Cape Cod, Massachusetts.

Upstate New Yorkers Jean and Rick Thompson have spent the last two months of March in San Miguel. Not content with just visiting, enjoying the sites, swimming and playing tennis, the Thompsons volunteer at Centro Infantil San Pablo for two hours twice a week during the entire time they are here. They both love spending time with the five-year-olds and guiding them in their first discoveries of the wonder and magic of computers. Native Guatemalan Jean is fluent in both English and Spanish. On their days at the school and after classes have concluded for the day, Jean stays an extra hour to help the principal and teachers with their English.

Joan, Jean and Rick love sharing their knowledge with the little ones. There is no doubt that they are making a big difference in the lives of the children, even though they say that they are the ones who benefit the most from these experiences. Centro Infantil San Pablo is very fortunate, indeed, to have these and so many other wonderful volunteering “angels unaware.”

CISP provides early education for underprivileged children. It was founded by St. Paul’s Anglican Church 13 years ago, and over 240 five-year-olds have successfully completed our program. Sponsorships for children, donations and additional advisory committee members are always welcome. For additional information, go to or email us at


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