Saturday, December 20, 2008

Los Ancianos Xela

Audrey, Donna and Laurel participate in this program which is jointly sponsored by La Iglesia Episcopal San Marcos, our parish in Guatemala, and Saint John´s Cathedral of the Episcopal Diocese of Florida.
The Vision
Unlike in the United States, facilities and programs in support of senior citizens (Los Ancianos in Spanish) are not common in Guatemala. Padre Roberto Armas, the rector of San Marcos Episcopal Church in Xela, Guatemala has the dream of providing a community center for elderly members of his city.

The Program
The program provides participants with a free hot lunch, a comfortable "living room" environment for relaxation, friendship, conversation, television, movies, games, and various forms of entertainment. The center is open daily, Monday through Friday, for sponsored members.

The Facilities
The education building of San Marcos Church will be converted into the community center during the weekdays. Initial furniture and appliances are being donated by local contributors. Restroom facilities are located in the building, and Padre Roberto has recently constructed a wheelchair ramp for the entrance. The church kitchen is already equipped to cook daily hot nutritious meals.

The Staff
All staff members in Guatemala and Florida are volunteers. Padre Roberto Armas is the founder and director of the program; Hanna Kim, a Young Adult Volunteer from the Presbyterian Church, is the on-site program administrator; Laurel is the program coordinator between Guatemala and the United States; Donna is the financial manager; and, Audrey coordinates translations in Guatemala. The only paid position is the cook. A volunteer staff from the St. John´s Cathedral, managed by Monica MacKenzie, manages the sponsorship program.

Since facilities already exist and the staff consists of all volunteers, all funds will go to the support of elderly participants. The primary funding will be provided by sponsors in the United States who will contribute $20.00 per month. The sponsors will receive a photo and biography of their elderly friend, along with periodic personal messages at least three times a year. Individuals or groups (e.g. youth groups, Sunday school classes, etc.) who wish to contribute, but not be personal sponsors, may do so in three ways:
  • Contribute $20.00 a month (this will provide funds for when a regular sponsor is unable to continue sponsorship).
  • Contribute any amount on a one-time or continuing basis.
  • Make special contributions for specified items or projects (such as a new TV, a kitchen appliance, facility improvements, etc.).