Feed the Hungry: It is my favorite as it seems to be touching so many children. The organization has build 27 kitchens at rural schools in the San Miguel area, trained and hired the cooks, and feeds over 3,000 school children every day. It is operated by over 60 volunteers. They are constantly expanding and it apparently costs $65 a year to feed one child. Website: http://www.feedthehungrysma.org/.
Sociedad Protectora de Animales (SPA): This is the humane society for San Miguel (not the dog catchers) where abandoned cats and dogs are temporarily housed until adoptions can be arranged. For all you animal lovers, this is where you can help financially, or help out at the shelter when in San Miguel. They provide veterinary assistance for abused and injured animals and have a weekly public adoption program on Thursdays in the Jardin. Several hundred cats and dogs are adopted by both Mexicans and Americans each year. Website:
San Miguel Lions Club: The Lions Club is an English language club which pursues the same national goals as Lions International. The major effort is eye sight screening and diabetes detection. The treatment site is on Correo, just around the corner from our casa, and is open for free diagnosis every Thursday, all operated by volunteers. Website: http://www.smalions.org/.
Patronato Pro Niños: A wonderful organization which is very visible in the community as they raise much of their money by the volunteers conducting the historical walking tour of San Miguel every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. In addition to the $10 for the tour, they raise much of their operating funds by donation and the acceptance of volunteer services. The organization provides approximately 2500 medical and 2000 dental visits and services to low income children in the municipality of San Miguel. They also appreciate Doctor and Dental volunteers. Website: http://www.patronatoproninos.org/.
Midday Rotary Club of San Miguel: The English language Rotary Club, which is one of the very few in Mexico, is only a couple of years old, but is growing rapidly and has a very active list of service activities. They meet weekly and always have a very interesting and provocative speaker. They promote the club and their programs weekly in Atención. In the 2006-2007 year they have had over six major projects. If you are a Rotarian, I am sure they would appreciate help from your club. Website: http://www.rotarysma.org/.
San Miguel Educational Foundation: A U.S. Tax Code 501(c)(3) tax exempt conduit foundation for contributions to worthy projects and programs in San Miguel. They support the other worthwhile organizations of the community, while providing sound investment of donations and oversight of worthwhile charitable activities for the benefit of the San Miguel community. It would appear to be similar to U.S. community foundations, like the North Central Washington Community Foundation in Wenatchee. In the 30 years of the foundation they have received $6,000,000 which has been donated and disbursed for the benefit of San Miguel. Website: http://www.smefmx.com/.
Save the Laja: For those of you who have ecological interests, this foundation is dedicated to preserving the watershed of the Laja River which flows, or does not flow, as is often the case. They are very active in watershed education, preservation, and restoring the aquifer which serves the valley. Website: http://www.rio-laja.org/.
Saint Paul’s Anglican Church: The Episcopal Church in San Miguel, which we attended while in San Miguel, has an extensive human outreach program conducted by their volunteers and their church giving. They are a strong supporter of Feed the Hungry (see above) which they helped found. Another program they have established is Centro Infantil San Pablo, which is a pre-school program for a San Miguel neighborhood modeled on Head Start. Websites: http://www.stpauls.com.mx/ & http://www.centroinfantil.org.mx/.
Biblioteca Pública: Probably the most impressive volunteer organization in San Miguel is the Biblioteca – the English-Spanish library and much more. It is the center for most all expat activity in the community and reaches far beyond its library shelves, which are the most extensive in Central America. They provide children’s art classes, computer classes, language classes for Spanish speakers, drama classes, theater and movie presentations, and hold hundreds of community events at the library. One very visible fundraising event is the Sunday Home and Garden tours which raise thousands of dollars to provide scholarships for Mexicans to go to Mexican Universities. Website: http://www.bibliotecasma.com/.
anYél, escuela de música: AnYél is a free nonprofit early childhood music program for the children of San Miguel. When we first arrived we enjoyed a concert in the Jardin of several grades of children. Into each child, anYél instills the belief that they are musical beings, and that music matters in every life. They have a wonderful website with lots of the kids enjoying music: http://www.anyel.com/.
All of the above are worthy of your interest and support. It is not an exhaustive list as there are many other charities in San Miguel, they just have not yet reached me during our short ten week stay in this delightful and caring community.
Quirky Living Note: In addition to the exquisite antique doors of the casas in San Miguel, you soon notice the wonderful and unique door knockers on many of the classic wooden doors. I suspect this is due not only to the age of the doors, but practical need, as the living areas are often far from the front door because of the courtyards and living levels. We have a door knocker, and when someone is at the door they always bang it hard and loud so it can be heard throughout the casa.