We are delighted to have this opportunity to report to our members on our recent activities, our funding priorities and our vision for the future. The Friends of Acapulco is the oldest charitable association in Acapulco. In 2010, we celebrated our 50th anniversary. We are very proud of the noble work we do.
52 years of caring for the neediest children of Acapulco.
But we are also focused on their education, their health care, their nutrition and their emotional well-being. I have had the privilege of serving as your President for four years. My goal has been to continue our distinguished record of charitable giving. Most of these children come from homes whose parents could no longer support them because of family breakup, drug addiction, economic hardship or emotional problems. Thanks to your generous contributions to the Friends of Acapulco, we can help provide a safe environment for these deserving youngsters, where they can overcome their personal hardships and realize their full human potential.
MODERNIZATION OF FACILITIES
The mainstay of our charitable grantmaking is our capital improvements program, whereby we provide annual funding to modernize and upgrade the facilities of each of the four children’s homes we support. Our investments over the last four years have led to a visible and dramatic improvement in the physical condition of these facilities. Our funding has contributed to improving the daily living conditions of hundreds of children.
Visible improvements in the facilities and services for theseyoungsters.
Thanks to your support, the Casa Hogar del Niño now has a brand new dormitory for girls, a new dining hall and a modern institutional kitchen. Thanks to your support, the Salvation Army Home now has access to clean and safe drinking water. Thanks to your support, the Marsh Children’s Home now has a mini-school bus to transport their youngsters to school and special events. Thanks to your support, Padre Angel’s Home for Boys now has a modern water pumping system and a new security fence. It is important to stress that none of these children’s homes receives direct funding from the Mexican government. These institutions depend solely upon private contributions to make ends meet. In many cases, the Friends of Acapulco is their single largest donor.
CHILDREN WITH CANCER
Helping children with cancer has long been a priority for the Friends of Acapulco. I am delighted to inform you that our Board of Directors has approved a new initiative that will broaden our support for these beloved children. We will do so by adding a fifth children’s home to the four we already fund. The Acapulco Home for Children with Cancer (known by its initials AMANC) provides accommodations, meals and transportation for children under treatment at the local State Cancer Hospital here in Acapulco.
Helping these heroic youngsters regain their stamina and vigor.
These children typically come from the poorest and most remote sections of the State of Guerrero. AMANC offers a temporary home – both to the sick child and to the parent who accompanies them — while they are receiving outpatient treatment. We are making a real difference in the lives of kids, toddlers and infants – some as young as 9 months old. The most heartening aspect of our work with AMANC is that we can watch as these heroic youngsters recover their stamina, gain weight and look demonstrably healthier.
One of our recent innovations has been to broaden and diversify our sources of funding. Until now, the vast majority of our donations have come from American donors, typically affluent private individuals with vacation homes here in Acapulco. A growing partnership with the Mexican business community will enable us to do more. During my term as President, we have made it a priority to seek more contributions from the local Mexican community, especially corporate support from private companies. I am proud to report that our local fundraising efforts have yielded tangible results. We have established funding partnerships with several Mexican corporate foundations. We welcome the Fundacion del Dr. Simi, the firm Apoyo Economico and the Fundacion C&A to our list of distinguished donors. Mexican executives tell us that one key reason they chose to make donations to us is because of the strong confidence they have in our Association. Our 50 years of serving children offers them assurance that their donations will be well-spent and efficiently administered. Our new website, www.friendsofacapulco.com, has played a key role in making more Mexicans aware of our work. Thanks to our webpage, companies have takenthe initiative to contact us to offer their financial support. Our growing partnership with these corporate donors will enable us to approve more of the funding requests we receive.
When I was appointed President, we instituted a fundamental change in the way we make our charitable grants. Historically, the Friends of Acapulco issued a check to each children’s home, allowing the administrator in charge of each institution to decide how best to spend the money. This style of grantsmanship had its drawbacks. It was very hard for us to document precisely how our funds were spent or the benefits generated. The staff in charge of the homes themselves had difficulty tracking the money flow, because our grants were mixed in with operating expenses.
We track every dollar we spend and measure the benefits that our grants generate.
We had observed on our site visits that the money we donated year after year seldom translated into visible improvements in the physical condition of each home. With the authorization of our Board of Directors, we instituted fundamental changes in our funding procedures with the aim of better tracking the impact of our donations. Under our new guidelines, we only approve grants on a project-specific basis. Each home submits to us an annual statement of needs, defining the projects they propose to undertake in the coming year. We authorize the funding in advance. But we do not issue the checks until we see paid receipts that verify how our money was spent. We also require that the homes take “before and after” photographs that visually document the improvements made. To ensure high-quality work, we have developed our own network of reputable building contractors and suppliers with whom we have collaborated in the past. We recommend these contractors and suppliers to the administrators of each home, giving them the option to seek other bids from contractors of their own choosing. The impact of these new procedures has been truly remarkable. Our new system enables us to track every peso we spend. This enhanced accountability gives us the assurance that your contributions are being invested wisely.
Many charitable foundations just write the check — without getting directly involved with the groups they support. We believe there is a better way.
When a serious problem arises, we respond immediately.
As President, I am in constant contact with the staff of each Home. When a serious problem arises, we respond immediately. When flooding from nearby highway construction damaged the Salvation Army Home, we took concerted action with local officials that led to a rapid clean-up. When dozens of toddlers perished in a tragic fire caused by faulty wiring in the North of Mexico – a tragedy that shocked the entire nation – we hired our own team of electricians to inspect each of the homes. We paid the entire cost for upgrading electrical cables and fixtures where deemed necessary. When a compelling need arises, the staff in charge at each home knows that the Friends of Acapulco will be there to assist them — within the limits of our budget and funding mandates.
WE GIVE THEM WINGS
The most gratifying aspect of our work is to watch these children grow up and become responsible adults.
The Friends of Acapulco give these youngsters the “wings” to fly on their own.
Like new butterflies taking flight for the very first time, our financial support gives these youngsters the “wings” to fly on their own. Thanks to your generous contributions, these deserving youngsters learn to overcome the personal hardships they have endured. Our scholarship program opens the doors to a good education and a decent job. Our free medical care program fosters good hygiene and prevents childhood diseases. Our capital improvements program offers kids a safe and secure living environment. The results of our good deeds are there for all to see: happy and healthy kids full of enthusiasm and energy. We are very proud that graduates of our homes include doctors, accountants and social workers. One of our former scholarship students is now studying for her PhD. in London. In closing, we wish to express our enormous appreciation to our distinguished members for their generous financial support. Your donations enable to do so much good for so many needy and deserving youngsters. We are counting on your continued contributions to the Friends of Acapulco to sustain our noble mission throughout the current decade and beyond.