Working Together for Greater Impact: Casita Linda and Escuela de Educación Especial
By Ann Marie Jackson
What’s better than one great organization working to improve the lives of others? Two great organizations working together to make an even bigger difference in the lives of the less fortunate! That’s what’s happening here in San Miguel. Casita Linda, which builds home for the poorest families in San Miguel, and the Escuela de Educación Especial de San Miguel de Allende (EEESMA), which educates deaf children, have teamed up in a creative way. Teenage students at the school learn trades as well as completing their academic studies. Some of the students have chosen woodworking, and they now build simple, sturdy bed frames, tables, benches, shelves, and coat hooks to furnish the homes that Casita Linda builds. Casita Linda pays a reasonable fee for the furniture. The boys earn 40% of the money, 40% pays for the materials, and 20% is reinvested in equipment for the program. “We are so happy to support these amazing young people, and we are very pleased with the durable, low-cost furniture they now create for our homes,” said Casita Linda president Louise Gilliam. “The families who receive Casita Linda homes have few possessions and this furniture helps turn each house into a cozy home.”
John Doherty, founder and president of EEESMA, credits woodworking instructors Erssel Snyder, Rogelio Cruz, Steve Cohen, Sid Martin, and Jim Scott with some creative adaptations to the workshop that ensure the safety of the students. For example, a large light has been attached to each power tool to indicate when the tool is turned on, since the students cannot hear these machines.
Some of the tools were donated to the school by Wayne Helfrich, a master woodworker who for years created a variety of clever wooden puzzles and sold them at TOSMA, the Saturday organic market, to benefit Casita Linda. When Wayne moved back to Canada last year, he donated these tools to EEESMA after helping the students to make some of the puzzles. The puzzles are still sold at TOSMA, and the proceeds are now divided among the students, the school, and Casita Linda.
Of course, this is just one example of the power of organizations working together. Casita Linda also appreciates partnerships with other groups such as the Blanket Babes, who knit beautiful blankets for every single member of the families who receive Casita Linda houses. Similarly, through the generosity of a donor of EEESMA, food supplies are arranged, paid for, and delivered through Feed the Hungry to provide nutritious meals to the students. Together we can accomplish so much.