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Providing San Miguel Hope

Full House

Janice serving

Eco outreach Phillip translating for Matt

NGO’S Series

This monthly series is about the NGO’s of San Miguel and their community work

By Karla Ortiz

 

Providing San Miguel Hope

Any decision always comes with change—whether for the good or for the bad. Thirty years ago, Janice and Jack Driscoll decided to take a different path than what life had planned for them: Janice, a licensed teacher, and Jack, a pastor, were living happily in New Jersey. Suddenly Jack was invited by the Christian Missionary organization to go to México to help poor people. He made his home in México City in order to be able to visit those communities that were on the outskirts, which are always the most vulnerable ones.

During his visit he met members of the American Legion, a group of US war veterans with a branch in México City. Together with the delegates he decided to create a program to help the veterans, but something in his heart was telling him that he ought to stay in México. When he returned to the United States, he convinced his wife that they had to go to México. They spent two weeks in the city, and the couple became convinced that their destiny did not lie in their native land. They decided to leave everything—their home, their family, their friends, and their church.

When they arrived in México City, they became more involved with the American Legion and made good friends with those in the United States embassy in México. In 1995, they became involved with the World Care Foundation and began to travel to mountain communities to bring medical equipment with doctors and nurses. They did this for several years. After this, they returned to the United States, where they met people who invited them to come to San Miguel de Allende. The original idea was to help rebuild a school in Atotonilco that had closed. But they became affiliated with the Cristo Roca Eterna (Rock of Ages) Church. Speaking to members, they found out that there was a need for a school where children would have a secure environment. So they decided to open their own school based on Judeo-Christian values in the neighborhood of Olimpo—the George Washington Carver School, a bilingual school that goes from preschool up to high school. Later, they also founded the association Hands of Hope.

Hands of Hope brings medical equipment from the United States, along with doctors and nurses affiliated with their church who pay for their own travel and bring the necessary equipment to attend to children and adults. They bring medical care to ALMA, which provides housing for low-income senior citizens; to Cielito Lindo, an assisted-living community; and also to schools in the 35 communities, of which Palma, Banda, and Atotonilco are only a few. Every Monday, they convene The Value Club in different communities, where they provide supplies for schools of all levels.

The Driscolls see each development opportunity as a challenge to help people who may cross their path, to improve their quality of life. This may mean people who need a roof, a floor, a door, or a drainage system. They have also worked with the Rotary charitable organization to bring environmentally-friendly heaters to rural communities in order to stop smoke contamination in houses where open-hearth wood-fired cooking is still done.

All of this wouldn’t be possible without the donations they receive from their church in the United States. This subsidizes some of their costs, but they also welcome and are grateful for all the volunteer help they receive to help cover a greater percentage.

However, not everything is so easy. Because they are a foreign couple, families in indigenous communities have typically been reserved when they meet them. Some have rejected their help. Gaining confidence has taken them years of relationship building. Basically, they’ve had to constantly go and offer their help until finally these families open their doors to them.

Now they are planning a meeting with Mayor-Elect Luis Alberto Villarreal, to see how they can best help in the city. Their main idea is to bring special equipment that will train the police with tactics and strategies used by the FBI and other organizations in the US. They would also like to bring professional baseball players to encourage the kids in sports, but, above all, to teach them to value and respect their country. Seeing their heroes, they could learn to play with them.

Although the Driscolls only ask for help with prayers for the sick and those most in need, they also need bilingual volunteers at the school so that the children can be heard so their English can be corrected in a way they understand. At the same time, Jack wants to invite the Mexican community to appreciate the beauty of their own country.

“They need to believe in and appreciate México, to give their best effort to make it the best nation for the future generations.”

 

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