It Takes a Village

Proverb or not, “It takes a whole village to raise a child” reflects social reality, and people who do grow up in a caring community are, indeed, lucky.

The International Friendship Club (IFC) is a caring community that provides help for hundreds of Mexicans in Puerto Vallarta and, as this is the last article of the season, I hope that you’ll give a nod of appreciation to the “IFC “village” of volunteers.

The club is hugely dependent on the income from the IFC Home Tours that will finish its 34th successful season on Wednesday. There would be no club and no village if it were not for the forty or so very generous home-owners who allow the club to show their homes between November to April each year. A team of thirty volunteers runs the tours every Tuesday and Wednesday, Susan C. finds new homes, while others schedule the places to visit and arrange for the buses.

The club’s flagship program is the provision of free surgery and medical care to infants and children born with cleft palates and lips. A team of doctors, who volunteer their time, is flown from Guadalajara to PV by IFC four times a year to assess and treat around a hundred children and their families who flock to IFC clubhouse for help. Volunteers arrange all accommodation, meals, and transportation for the medical staff. The CMQ hospital provides free use of an operating room for a day four times a year, as well as medical supplies and anesthetics. All part of the village.

Other club members volunteer on the front desk to answer questions, sell tickets, provide tourist help and take some pressure off our lone employee: the incomparable Josué, who looks after the office management and accounting needs. Fred has been caring for the physical building and equipment for years. Volunteers choose the movie for movie nights, find and provide lecturers, teach bridge, and lead the Friday-night dinearounds, where new and old members find new friends. Another team scours new restaurants and suppliers to arrange to have IFC members obtain discounts on meals and services. This creates members who pay the $450 pesos for membership to get the discounts, but this provides another source of income. TJ spends hours tweaking and maintaining the website and membership lists, Rod imposes strict financial controls and budgets so that the club stays solvent.

All financial surplus is used to support about twenty-two charities. Each one has a liaison person who ensures that the charity continues to support the needs of the children involved, whether for education, health or social services. Susan D delves into forgotten corners of town to make sure the club supports individuals and families in need.

Henry, the president of the International Friendship Club, works tirelessly and effectively to make sure that the club has earned the Tribune’s readers’ vote for “ Best Community Charity for 2018”. All told, I’d say that between 150 and 200 volunteers make sure this “village” runs smoothly and helps many.

Until November, please remember Helen Keller’s words – “Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.”

John Warren on Email
John Warren
John Warren is in charge of Publicity for the International Friendship Club (IFC). His articles describe the programs and charities that IFC supports, the sources of income of IFC and the social experiences, lectures and classes that members can enjoy.
He splits his time between Puerto Vallarta and Lethbridge, Alberta. In the winter months he writes for the IFC, this summer he’s focusing his writing on the environment.