Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Project Mexico

What We Do

Since 1988, Project Mexico has been involving young people in the alleviation of suffering by building homes for Mexico's poor. In 1996 our outreach expanded through the opening of St. Innocent Orthodox Orphanage in Tijuana which provides a home for teenage boys who live on the streets or who have been put out of other orphanages and would otherwise be left to fend for themselves. In operation only six years, it was named one of the top three institutions in the state for 2001. St. Innocent Orphanage is the only facility dedicated to teenage boys in Tijuana and one of only four in the entire country of Mexico.

This charitable outreach is unique because our very own people do the work. In the process, their lives are changed. This proven, powerful vehicle of change has provided a fertile environment for thousands of youth to grow in Christ and give of themselves by doing works of mercy for a needy world. Volunteers from 43 of 50 states and eleven foreign countries have participated. Additionally, we hope to continue strengthening the ties between the people of the U.S. and Mexico and be an example of how we can help each other when we work together.

Lives have been changed. Families have been catapulted forward in their struggle to have good shelter and a true home. The impact of this step cannot be measured as they can now focus their energies on their family's moral, spiritual, and educational needs. Some families would split up otherwise, unable to adequately provide for their children. Disease and death no longer loom at every spell of bad weather and rain. And spiritually, it is pure joy to watch the tears of thanks flow during the house blessings. The families know that the Lord has visited them, literally, where they live.

The volunteers who build the homes are profoundly affected. We regularly receive letters from participants, parents, and clergy describing the awakening that has occurred. Many become active and eager participants in their home parish. Others have made college decisions and career choices based upon the experience. All seem to be more in touch with the simple yet difficult commandments of our Lord to love our neighbor and to care for the least of these

Our History

Project Mexico began in Orange County, California through the efforts of Gregory Yova, our Founder and Executive Director. Greg was alarmed by the increasingly desperate plight of youth in North America which directly affects society as a whole. In the Fall of 1988, Project Mexico developed from Greg's desire to provide young people an opportunity to look beyond themselves and reach out personally to those in need. Greg felt compelled to get them involved in the relief of suffering in neighboring Mexico. Though geographically close, Mexico is a Third World country and has a great need for basic human services.

In 1988, our goal was simply to help some struggling families make a better life for themselves by providing them with secure, safe, permanent homes. The work caught on like wild fire as more people experienced the joy of giving in a hands-on way. By 1991, we were spending three weekends a month in Mexico with volunteer groups from Southern California. Then, in 1992, we received a call from a group in Chicago that wanted to come build a home. The subsequent explosion of interest across the country made it clear to us that this should be a full-time endeavor. In 1992, Greg made the leap and quit his job in order to bring as many people as possible to Mexico. We established bylaws, incorporated as a charity, and set up an office.

In 1990, Project Mexico began coordinating with a group of Mexicans to establish an orphanage for teenage boys in Tijuana. This effort to address a critical social problem was a natural outgrowth of our goal to relieve suffering in Mexico. After extensive labors to receive official approval from the Mexican government, St. Innocent Orphanage opened its doors in September 1996. At that point, the orphanage began serving as the home base for Project Mexico where groups eat, sleep, pray and can be a part of the boys' lives. Over the years many groups have come and worked exclusively at the orphanage, helping us to complete a great number of important projects.

This charitable outreach is unique because our very own people do the work. In the process, their lives are changed. This proven, powerful vehicle of change has provided a fertile environment for thousands of youth to grow in Christ and give of themselves by doing works of mercy for a needy world. Volunteers from 43 of 50 states and eleven foreign countries have participated. Additionally, we hope to continue strengthening the ties between the people of the U.S. and Mexico and be an example of how we can help each other when we work together.

Lives have been changed. Families have been catapulted forward in their struggle to have good shelter and a true home. The impact of this step cannot be measured as they can now focus their energies on their family's moral, spiritual, and educational needs. Some families would split up otherwise, unable to adequately provide for their children. Disease and death no longer loom at every spell of bad weather and rain. And spiritually, it is pure joy to watch the tears of thanks flow during the house blessings. The families know that the Lord has visited them, literally, where they live.

The volunteers who build the homes are profoundly affected. We regularly receive letters from participants, parents, and clergy describing the awakening that has occurred. Many become active and eager participants in their home parish. Others have made college decisions and career choices based upon the experience. All seem to be more in touch with the simple yet difficult commandments of our Lord to love our neighbor and to care for the least of these.

The home building trips were first run by Greg and local volunteers, many of whom became the original board members. When we took possession of the orphanage facility in 1993, we also began our internship program. This was a way for young people to give a few months to a year in service. These interns helped with everything from work trips to projects at the orphanage to administrative tasks. It was an exciting time in spite of extremely tough conditions.

Many more interns would follow and do invaluable work both with home building and at the orphanage. Everyone involved has both endured difficulty and experienced blessings as they have given of themselves to do works of mercy. We now stand at well over one hundred homes built and blessed! Over 6,900 volunteers from forty-three of fifty states and eleven foreign countries have come to give of themselves and have been blessed in return. St. Innocent Orphanage now exists as a haven to abandoned teenage boys.

Organization

Project Mexico is accountable to two Boards of Directors -- one in the U.S. and one in Mexico. Both Boards are comprised of well-respected community and business leaders and clergy with many years of experience serving in the Church.

Project Mexico holds nonprofit status (i.e. 501(c)3) in the U.S. and in Mexico. (This is a very difficult process in Mexico and we are one of only four agencies in Tijuana to have achieved this status.) Funding comes from individual donors, parishes, charitable organizations, foundations, and corporate donors.

Our Goals

To completely solve the problem in Tijuana of orphan teenage boys would be impossible for any one organization. However, to provide a home, an education, vocational and Christian training for up to thirty-five of these boys until they are of age is a worthy goal which can be accomplished. By providing these services, Project Mexico and St. Innocent Orphanage seek to reduce the number of boys on the streets of Tijuana and San Diego, to consequently reduce the crimes in which they are involved in both cities, and to provide the possibility for these boys to grow into godly men who are upstanding citizens and productive members of society.

We are also working to implement an independent living skills program for older boys who complete high school which will cover career training, personal finances, ethics, a healthy lifestyle, and household management. We are in the process of securing scholarships for boys to attend university or vocational school. We are working to expand the livestock and farming operations to supply 75% of the orphanage's food needs and provide additional work experience. Our master plan includes further vocational and business training which will include profit-making ventures for the orphanage. We are in the process of completing facilities for on-site staff, life skills housing, and vocational shops.

We also aim to increase the number of homes built for families and to bring as many volunteers to do the work as we are able. The number of groups we accommodate per year has doubled to forty over the last few years and we are hoping to double that number to eighty groups in the near future. This will require additional facilities to house the groups and support staff to effectively manage the groups.

The Life of St. Innocent of Alaska

St. Innocent of Alaska, our patron, was a remarkable man who inspires us by his life, his love of God, his sacrifice, and his affection for the native people of Alaska.

To learn more about St. Innocent, click here.

Contact Info

Please feel free to contact us in any of the following ways:

Write to us:

Project Mexico
P.O. Box 120028
Chula Vista, CA 91912-3128

Call us: 619.426.4610
Email us: info@projectmexico.org
Fax us:

source: http://www.projectmexico.org/about.html

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