By Barbara Shaw
Not long ago, on Jaltemba Bay, the only adult education available was a small ninth-grade (Segundaria) certificate program, nothing vocational. Kids had few ways to learn after school.
Starting small in borrowed space in 2008, Ken Snyder, Johan Nielsen and David Easby founded the Community Center run by Los Amigos de La Peñita. “We moved into the current building a year later,” Snyder says.
Today, under Viky Robelo’s care and Emma’s management of the breakfast program, kids get a healthy start and have help with homework later in the day. Women learn baking from Lucita and commercial sewing from Isabel Moreno, who also runs her own business in addition to making prostheses for mastectomy survivors.
The Community Center hosts and sponsors older teenagers and adults who have returned to study and earn their primary (grade 6) and secondary (Grade 9) certificates. They can continue their education under the National Institute of Adult Education (INEA). The popular program is growing rapidly.
Other vocational programs at the Community Center include an industrial sewing course supported by CECATI (Center for training for industrial work). The pasty chef and hairdressing programs are supported by ICATEN (Training institute for work in the state of Nayarit). Soon, the Center will offer courses in basic computing and business English.
Meanwhile, volunteers teach basic English and French and other classes. So many excited local people get together to learn new skills that the building can barely contain the energy and activity.
Snyder has the experience to know what is possible with more room. He is a board member and volunteer executive director now. His career included directing the U.S. Head Start program for preschool kids, in the four Northwest states, from which he retired in 1997. He and his wife Mary Alice built a home and live here in La Peñita eight months a year.
“The bigger picture for us,” Snyder says, “is that we’ve got to be prepared financially for the increase in rent and expansion into the other part of the building. It’s challenging because, while there’s government funding for some programs, there’s not money to operate a community cultural center. We just have to raise the money.”
The Community Center is a focal point for other programs operated by Los Amigos, including a scholarship program at CONALEP, the local industrial arts high school. The scholarship students learn the value of community service, by volunteering as instructors and monitors for younger children participating in various instructional programs in the Community Center, and other Los Amigos activities.
In addition, the Community Center operates as a coordination point for Los Amigos’ BOOKS ON WHEELS, a mobile early reading and book lending program for outlying kindergartens. That program is directed by Gemma Marquez, an outstanding retired educator.
More volunteers are always needed. Make something wonderful happen while you are here. Any help and financial assistance you might offer will be deeply appreciated.
During the tourist season this year, wonderful fund-raising events will supplement the budget to do good work at the Center. Mark your calendar so you don’t miss out.
Fun Events Coming
January 18, the Taqui Tourist Danz Parti. Live music, dancing and food, at the Hotel Villas El Dorado in Guayabitos. Tickets on sale now, at the Center or the Los Amigos booth at Thursday market in La Peñita.
February 4 – 7, La Peñita Players show at Zapatas 32 in La Peñita.
February 5, Dinner party at the Community Center with entertainment by the community center’s very own Youth Ballet Folklorico, plus other musical activities.
February 6, Third Annual Rock and Roll Show. DJ music and video by Adan, plus great dancy and superb food. This is the Center’s major event for the year. Upstairs at Zapata 32, on the Avenida in La Peñita.
February 17, Tres Amigas presents a Louis L’Amor Night. Western themed dinner, music and dancing at Rodeo Restaurant (across from the new movie theater in Guayabitos)
March 6, Third Farwell Fling. Campestre las Azaleas. Authentic Mexican buffet, music and dancing outdoors in a park-like setting.
March 8, Las Tres Amigas are hosting Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book. Fantastic food by Chef John Spry, at the home of Sue and Del Moss in Guayabitos.
This article summarizes the history of the CCC: CCC – History
There are several dozen articles about the CCC which you can view at this link: CCC Articles on the Jalapeno