By John Warren
We snowbirds have to face an unpleasant truth. Soon we’ll be heading north to see family, friends and, in some places, (Gasp!) frost. As I tap away on my keyboard I look out of my window and see the blue Pacific, some pink bougainvillea and a host of other flowers that cover the whole spectrum. Just for fun, I check the temperature here in PV; it’s a perfect 26C and expected to dip to a sleepable 18C tonight. Other temperatures up north, where the colour of the grass is still brown, shows Edmonton to be 9C, Chicago 5C and Denver a frigid 2C, slipping down to -8C. That’s 17F. If these conditions hold until you read this, the Easter Bunny will be wearing snowshoes.
For many of us who have spent the last few months here the “winter” has been delightful. For members of the International Friendship Club (IFC) it has been a time to make new friends, to socialise, to volunteer and to feel good by doing good.
IFC is lucky to have a small army of volunteers who do good things for the less fortunate residents of PV. As always, the majority of IFC’s income came from the IFC Home Tours where about thirty volunteers worked to find the homes to show, sell the tickets, take the money, act as docents and co-ordinate the whole operation. The results speak for themselves; nearly 2,500 people paid $500 pesos each to take the tour and many gave glowing reports on Trip Advisor. More than forty very generous and compassionate homeowners allowed us to show their homes to our customers because they support IFC’s charitable work and, as a result, we raised a large amount of money that we are proud to use to help others. In addition, our membership coordinator sold close to 650 memberships – a world record!
Socialising and making new friends is an excellent reason to be part of IFC.
The first general meeting/brunch was held on 10th November at Casa Fantasia and was a great way to re-establish friendships after a six-month lapse, to make new ones and to enjoy the excellent food and hospitality there. The Activities Committee also arranged a Christmas party for members and friends and we all enjoyed the food, fun and music.
A series of Friday morning lectures dealing with various aspects of Mexican history drew crowds that would have made the fire marshal shudder and the lectures, held on Thursday evenings, on topics ranging from the role of Canadian women in WWll to Eastern Perspectives on Death and Dying were also well attended. Bridge was taught on Monday mornings and played on Friday afternoons. After bridge, the Friday happy hour around the club’s bar was always a popular venue to meet new friends and was followed by the new and successful dine-around program. The club was opened on Monday evenings for the IFC Movie Nights which, this year, featured leading ladies of the past: think Ava Gardner, Grace Kelly and Elizabeth Taylor. On Saturday mornings you could have exercised your mind and body by showing up at 9:00am and participating in Mindful Meditation, followed an hour later by Dharma Yoga. Got to admit that IFC covered many and varied personal interests.
The Home Tours, the lectures, the movies and other events all brought income into the club and this year, as in the past, it was used to support our cleft palate program, which provides free medical services and surgeries to local kids with cleft palates and/ or lips, the free dental program available to people living in Boca De Tomatlan, the provision of free food and supplies to poorer families that are serviced by our nutrition program and we also sent cheques to seventeen registered charities in PV. The English Outreach program was a huge success. Twenty-one volunteers taught English to Mexicans ranging in age from nine to forty-five, twice a week for ten weeks and many graduates asked if they could return to the program next year.
It was a busy and excellent year for the club and those we support. Good seasons end with good endings and IFC’s will too. On Sunday 3rd April we will hold our closing brunch at Oscar’s restaurant. It will start at 10:30am and offer a mouth-watering array of food from the buffet, excellent raffle prizes and live piano music. Tickets ($300 pesos) are available online at www.ifcvallarta.com (Special Events) or from the clubhouse at the corner of Insurgentes and Libertad…above HSBC bank. Everyone is welcome.