Mexico’s Former President Fox and First Lady to Help San Miguel’s Disabled Children
By Camie Sands
Late last year, Vicente Fox and Marta Sahagún paid a visit to the Centro Crecimiento, a San Miguel charity that has served hundreds of disabled children in its more than 30 years of existence. Lucha Maxwell, the charity’s founder, was in her ninth decade and on the verge of retirement. The center was in danger of closing. No stranger to philanthropy herself, Sahagún had created the Vamos México (Let’s Go Mexico) foundation in 2001 to provide social services to the underprivileged. During their visit to Centro Crecimiento, the Foxes were touched by the children they met and quickly made the decision to offer their assistance.
“Lucha Maxwell will always be remembered and praised for her passion in creating this center to serve these unique-needs children,” Sahagún said in a recent interview. “Meeting with some of the children and their mothers that day caused Vicente and me to look into our hearts and say, ‘Yes, we will come to San Miguel and work with the community to revitalize this absolutely necessary service to disabled children.’”
Crecimiento has been renamed CRISMA (Centro de Rehabilitación Integral de San Miguel de Allende) and is now under the umbrella of Vamos México. Both organizations are legally registered as tax-deductible charities in Mexico and the United States. Vamos’s funds are earmarked for social services at the national level. Sahagún says, “The budget for CRISMA will ultimately have to come through the generous hearts and donations of those who see their way to helping such a cause.”
At present, CRISMA is serving 40 children, providing neuro-rehabilitation, early stimulation, and hydrotherapy, among other types of therapies. Sahagún says CRISMA’s goal goes beyond therapy to raise the level of understanding and tolerance toward disabled children on the part of the community at large. She says, “We want to put an end to families hiding their disabled children because of needless and unwarranted shame, so that those children can lead improved and happier lives.”
CRISMA has begun assembling a local advisory board headed by Sergio Cházaro. The advisory board currently includes Dr. Guillermo Solomon Santibañez; Floyd Edwards, past president of Patronato Pro Niños; and Camilla Sands, past president of the San Miguel Chamber Music Festival. Cházaro is hoping to increase the size of the volunteer board. “We are actively seeking people to join in groups we can help guide and activate for creative and fun ways to provide resources needed for CRISMA’s stability of service and needed growth,” he says.
Those who contribute their services or donations to CRISMA will meet with the Foxes at various events throughout the year and will regularly receive news about the organization and its progress. Sahagún says. “In the words that Vincente has always lived by, ‘It is in giving that we receive.’” To volunteer for CRISMA, please contact Nadia Sierra (Sierra@vamosmexico.org.mx) or call 415 152-6039.