Patronato Pro Ninos to Honor Four Volunteers

By Ann Mauzé

Left to right Arthur Kreizel, Mary Ambrose, Tom Ambrose, Isobella Kreizel

Patronato Pro Niños (PPN) announces the 2014 recipients of the Stirling Dickinson Award, annually presented to volunteers who have made a considerable difference in the growth and strength of the organization and the work done to help the children of San Miguel de Allende. They are Mary and Tom Ambrose and Isobella and Arthur Kreizel, who will be honored at a luncheon on December 7 at The Restaurant, Sollano 16, beginning at 1pm.

By 1995, Tom Ambrose decided to retire early and move to Mexico. Mary had been to San Miguel several times with friends from her hometown of Austin, Texas, and freely admits to falling under its spell. Shortly thereafter they pulled up stakes and became full time residents here. Since then they have made numerous contributions to the community through their charitable activities.

In 1998, Marty Simon brought Mary into the Patronato Pro Niños fold. Mary served as secretary for two years with Marty and as his vice president for two years. During her tenure as vice president, Mary talked Tom into first working as a volunteer in the campo and then working as Fund Raising Chairman.

When Tom was in charge of the fundraising in 2001, he initiated the Patronato Summer Auctions. “Our expectations were not high that first year,” says Mary, “and we made triple the amount that we had anticipated! This was the shot in the arm that the organization needed…we were on the way to moving to a more financially stable organization.”

When Mary became president in 2002, she and Tom felt that the organization had grown to a point that it needed a medical director and a fundraising office. At that time, Patronatos had a small, one-room office in a local doctor’s office, with no one to manage the medical records of the children or to make price comparisons…and there was no fundraising office. Under their supervision the organization hired its first medical director,and opened up its first fundraising office in the Ambroses’ home, where it remained for the two years that Mary served as president. During that period, Mary and Tom focused on tightening record keeping, accounting, and fundraising.

Arthur Kreizel first saw San Miguel when he visited friends here in 1970 and soon made it an annual event to escape the long winters in Vermont and New York City. When he brought his wife, Isobella, to visit, it was not long before they made plans to move here permanently. The draw of this magical colonial town and the warmth of the Mexican families were all they needed to, as he said, make the next chapter of their lives here.

Arthur, celebrating his 90th birthday in December, has been a Patronato Pro Niños supporter for decades. After retiring from business in New York and then state government in Vermont, he had no intention of getting involved in community activities here. However, one day he accompanied a volunteer to a PPN village and its school. Arthur was truly impressed by the work PPN was doing to help sick children but dismayed by the lack of dental care available to youngsters in the campo. From that day on, Arthur was engaged and soon he and his Jack Russell terrier, Chester, became regular visitors in many of the villages. He helped start the organization’s first dental program, which now boasts three traveling dental vans and a staff of four dentists and three technicians. In those early days, the dental van was tucked behind the Kreizels’ house at night where its electrical system was charged up for the next day.

Isobella Kreizel joined the PPN board in 2002 and was a founding member of the Medical Committee. She furnished the first doctor’s office on calle San Francisco with donations from friends including medical equipment from the Hetherington family from Houston, followed by the Ambroses donating a refrigerator to store medicines. Although Isobella has been involved in almost every aspect of PPN, from serving as president for three terms to, along with Floyd Edwards, overseeing the design and construction of the Children’s Healthcare Center in Fracc. Ignacio Ramirez, her passion is the work of the Medical Committee. “This is the absolute heart and soul of the organization,” she says. A passion was instilled in her from her childhood spent in West Pakistan and India, when she would accompany her mother, a retired nurse, as she volunteered in the refugee camps.

Everyone is invited to join the Patronato Pro Niños board of directors in celebrating the accomplishments of these four outstanding volunteers who not only made a difference in the organization but, more importantly, in the overall health and well-being of San Miguel’s neediest children. Tickets, which are US$75 or 950 pesos for the all inclusive luncheon, may be purchased by calling Lily in the Patronato Pro Niños office at 152 7796.

Now in its 44th year, Patronato Pro Niños services over 11,000 pediatric medical and dental cases annually. All proceeds from the Stirling Dickinson Award Luncheon on December 7 will go toward this effort and to ensure that each child, from infancy to teen years, receives the most thorough attention possible.


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