Community Partnerships Fuel Casita Linda’s Success
By Ann Marie Jackson, photo by Ted Davis
Currently building its 93rd home for San Miguel families in extreme poverty, nonprofit organization Casita Linda recently celebrated the incredible support it receives from the community. On Sunday, March 6, Casita Linda held a donor appreciation event for 75 major donors at ZUMO, an impressive new rooftop restaurant in Colonia San Antonio. Stewart Haverlack and Vanessa Villegas, owners of ZUMO, donated the space as well as the delectable food and drink. Because of their strong belief in Casita Linda’s work, they said they were honored to do so.
Displayed at the event were striking photographs of Casita Linda families taken by photographer Ted Davis. Davis donates his time and talent to visit these families and document their lives before and after the construction of their Casita Linda homes. A particularly stunning photograph of a young girl currently hangs in the Ted Davis Galería de Fotografía at Zacateros 81. Proceeds from the sale of this photograph will benefit Casita Linda.
Each donor attending the event received a beautiful hand-dipped candle featuring the Casita Linda logo. The candles were made by the skilled artisans at Rose Ann Hall Designs. Charlie Hall hires artisans with various physical disabilities and teaches them the skills they need to create gorgeous etched glassware and high-quality candles. Rose Ann Hall Designs is a remarkable company and proud Casita Linda partner.
Casita Linda also recently began a program with the Escuela de Educación Especial de San Miguel de Allende, a wonderful school for the deaf established under the leadership of John Dougherty. For years, Wayne Helfrich, a longtime patron of Casita Linda, built clever wooden puzzles and sold them at TOSMA, the Saturday organic market, donating all of the proceeds to Casita Linda. Helfrich recently donated his woodworking tools and supplies to the school. The deaf children now learn woodworking skills and make the puzzles. Casita Linda continues to sell the puzzles at TOSMA, and the two organizations share the proceeds. The students also build bed frames to furnish Casita Linda homes.
In addition, Casita Linda has teamed up with two talented community leaders, Magda Perez López and Ilian Barrera, to offer a series of workshops to new Casita Linda homeowners. The participants are studying organic gardening and nutrition, affirming their personal and community values, building self-esteem, and learning ways to address problems of addiction and violence in their families. They have come together to work to improve their community. Empowered, they are now preparing an appeal to the municipal government in hopes of bringing desperately needed running water, electricity, and paved roads to their colonia.
Casita Linda also partners with organizations providing eco-friendly products that work well in these off-grid houses. Each Casita Linda family receives an eco-stove designed and purchased at Stove Team International. This program is currently funded by San Miguel’s Unitarian Universalist congregation. In addition, each family receives a solar light, funded in part by One Million Lights. Casita Linda volunteers also provide furnishings, blankets, warm clothes, and other needed supplies for the homes. “We are well on our way to building our 100th house in early 2017,” notes board president Louise Gilliam, “and it is largely due to people like this who make up our wonderful community and to our donors throughout the US, Canada, and Europe.” To learn more and to support Casita Linda’s vital work, visit www.casitalinda.org.