It Takes a Village to Raise a Child

BY ROBERT SCHULTZ

San Jose Del Cabo now has what can be called an “opportunity” village. Through the foresight and hard work of a small group of very dedicated community-minded individuals like Onagh and Bill Ash, and John and Melinda Pentz along with like-minded non-profits, San Jose del Cabo now has a youth center. 

The Santa Rosa area of San Jose, which is home to the highest concentration of low-income youth in the area, is the location for the Los Cabos Centro Comunitario (Do we have to translate it?). 

Being built on a two-hectare parcel of land donated by the City, it is in a central location where the needs of our young adults are easily accessible. 

Through the Iluminame Fundacion and InspireMexico foundations, the Ash’s and Pentz’s have made this dream come true. 

The vision of this small group began just a short three years ago, and it is already a reality. They recognized a need and sought a way to make it happen.

The Los Cabos Centro Comunitario (Okay, okay, Youth Community Center) will be home to multiple non-profit foundations whose combined mission is to serve the youth in the Los Cabos area.  These foundations are focused on all aspects of youth development including intellectual, emotional and physical development.

Under John and Onagh’s guidance, the Youth Center was designed to provide a shared environment for several already highly functioning foundations. Their vision was to provide an environment that would encourage and foster collaboration between already successful groups. “This unique setting will encourage shared ideas and resources among these foundations,” said John.

By promoting synergism, they hope to grow each group to enable them to serve more children than each may have been able to serve individually.

Initially, four successful local foundations will be the premier tenants of the Center in Phase 1. Gente Joven, currently serving over 300 youth with the help of 40 volunteer coaches will be one of the first residents. 

Another tenant will be the Green Scholarship Program. They currently have 60 students in their scholarship program. Over the past few years, they have provided scholarships for 150 students from the Los Cabos area to attend local Universities as well as the Green Hospitality Program which, in partnership with the Marriott Hotel, provides a 12-week training course for its future employees. Amigos de los Ninos provides free quality health, dental, and hearing care in Los Cabos for children up to age 18. They currently see between 900-1100 children each year. Once settled into the new facility, they plan to add another 200-300 children with special Dental needs. Next is ComuniCabo. They provide speech therapy for young recipients of the Smiles International cleft lip and palate surgeries program.

John and Onagh, along with several other community-minded Puerto Los Cabos neighbors, have already raised in excess of $2.1 million USD. With over 1500 sq. feet (140 sq. meters) already completed, the interior classrooms and function spaces are now being added. An additional $700,000 USD is needed to complete this initial phase which will also include an instructional garden, kitchen and playground. The playground still needs funding but the good folks at GE-Villa Group have donated the entire cost of labor and materials to build the garden and kitchen. Grupo Empresarial Villa is the parent company of Aridos de Cabo, El Palmar, Los Cabos Nursery, South Baja, Pro-Riego and Proasip. Workers broke ground this past week and plan for a rapid completion as many of GE-Villa’s employees have volunteered their time to help build this area.

Innovacion Solar and its suppliers have also stepped up in a huge way. Engineer Francisco Vargas, Chief Operating Officer, announced they will donate an entire solar on-grid system, consisting of 400 solar panels. The panels were donated by SILFAB. Negotiations for the inverters are nearly completed with just a few details to be worked out.

Innovacion Solar will provide the entire cost of labor and materials for the installation. When completed, this system is designed to produce 150,000 watts of electricity representing a saving to the center's tenants of more than $145,000 USD per year.

John Pentz is the mastermind behind the project’s construction. In an interview with John, he indicated they still need a great deal of help to complete Phase 1. Both cash donations and in-kind donations are welcomed. John has a wishlist of items needed which includes a standby generator, exterior lighting, paving of the parking lot, air conditioning as well as a water pump and fire protection system to name a few.

And “Yes,” there is a Phase 2 already in the planning stage. Phase 2 will consist of a 25,000 sq. foot building that will house additional local nonprofits. Plans include a hospitality school that will train and supply workers for the hotel industry with help from Marriott, Hilton and Hyatt Hotels here in San Jose Del Cabo. The other anchor tenant to Phase 2 will be a regional Food Bank. Baja Sur will become the twenty-fifth State with such a facility. Twenty-four other States in Mexico already have a fully functioning food bank providing millions of dollars to the needy using food items that might otherwise end up in a landfill.  The Foodbank will work together and coexist with the Garden and outdoor kitchen of Phase 1.

Onagh Ash, via InspireMexico.org,  is working tirelessly raising the remaining needed dollars and materials. US and Canadian folks can make a tax-deductible donation at inspiremexico.org and click on the Donate button.  For in-kind or other donations from people in Mexico, please e-mail karla@fundacioniluminame.org.