Ways to Help Our Community

These are just a very few of the opportunities available to help people and projects in our communities.

QuePasa is happy to list volunteer projects that need support.  Just send a brief article/ paragraph along with a photo if possible to the Editor.
We’ve noticed that there are a lot of people working to do good things within our adopted local communities. There are many of you out there who do not mind rolling up your sleeves for a good cause! However, there are probably more of you who would be delighted to simply make a financial contribution, especially if it could be made a little easier.
Our objective here is for Que Pasa subscribers to be aware of worthwhile local charities and offer an easier way to make ongoing or one-time contributions. This simplified path should be a real benefit to increasing the results of your fundraising efforts, as well. We therefore offer this Contributions page to spotlight charitable options in our subscriber readership area and connect readers with information about, and links to, those in need.
Keep in mind there are two ways for a person to donate financially:
  • directly to the individual organizer(s);
  • funds can be donated to a bank account

To list a charitable effort:
  • Listings will only be accepted for charitable efforts benefiting our local Que Pasa readership focus, the cantons of Grecia, Sarchi (Valverde Vega), and Naranjo.
  • Please provide a name, brief description and/or mission statement to promote your charitable effort (limit this description to 150 words--you may also include up to 3 photos if available). Feel free to include a note about a current project or ongoing need.
  • Give us information about how contributions can be made:

Option 1) provide information about how donors can give money directly to you; or
Option 2) provide bank account information to which contributions can be made:
  • provide the seventeen-digit bank routing number for colon transfers (if you don't have it, inquire at the receiving bank's service platform). This is essential for SINPE (interbank) transactions.
  • the full name of the account holder.
  • the bank account holder's cedula number (individual or corporation).the bank account number.
  • the account holder's email address. Note: Some banks require the recipient bank account holder’s telephone number for SINPE transfers.
  • Option 2 might sound a bit complicated, but it's not that difficult and you only have to do it once.
Please provide the requirements listed above to the Editor for listing here.
How to Set Up a "Favorita" account at Banco Nacional de Costa Rica for ongoing donations.

Que Pasa's disclaimer: we are not able to endorse or guarantee the worthiness of any project or effort we include for your consideration. You will be able to read about each cause and decide for yourself as to whether it is worthy of your support. Donors are responsible for their own due diligence.

Community Responsibility

We all live in a community, in one way or another, and we all have an opportunity to make it better in some way. It’s easy to get caught up in our personal lives and forget that we have an obligation to be responsible members of our communities. For some of us, expressing this responsibility is so interwoven into our personal lives that it is simply a natural extension of who we are. Others may need to take a moment to consider how to be more responsible for the communities in which we live. For those of us who live in large cities, we can start with our neighborhoods. Anything we do on a small level will automatically ripple out into the larger system.

Communities thrive on the talents of their members, so one approach to community responsibility is to consider what you have to offer and find ways to bring that into your community. If you have a special gift when it comes to bringing people together, you might agree to throw a party or event once a year that includes the whole community. Even a small open house in an apartment building can accomplish a lot in terms of making people feel more connected and comfortable with each other. If you have a talent for organic gardening, you might offer to help people in your neighborhood plan their own organic gardens. You might be the go to person for neighbors who need someone to water their plants or care for their pets when they’re away. You might take an abandoned space in your community and galvanize others to help you transform it into a community garden or a playground for children. In an area where there are many homeless people, starting a soup kitchen or organizing a holiday meal makes a big difference not only to those in need but to those who want to help.

All holiday parades, picnics, and ceremonies started somewhere, with someone who wanted to give back to the community in which they lived. It’s not too late to propose and execute a new tradition in your own community, whether it’s a block party or an annual picnic. Your particular vision, gifts, and strengths are part of what makes your community unique, so as you recognize them in yourself, feel free to offer them to those who live in your vicinity. Whether your offerings are visionary or practical, they are the very essence of community. 
Hacienda vivace

FUNCAVIDA Children's Cancer Foundation

 We continue our tradition of helping FUNCAVIDA Children's Cancer Foundation (non-profit) in raising funds for their Annual Children's Christmas Party on December 13. These kids are fighting cancer or have a parent struggling with the disease. The gifts that Santa delivers at the FUNCAVIDA Christmas party are likely the only gifts these children will receive. 
1st Way to Donate: Make bank transfer to BNCR or BCR (see graphic at right). Thank you for your generosity!!
+506 6184-8324
2nd Way to Donate: Use PayPal referencing the Funcavida email address or phone number above. Thank you for caring!!
Wildlife Rescue in La Garita

Rescate Wildlife Rescue Center

Rescate Wildlife Rescue Center (formerly known as ZooAve, in Alajuela) has faced visitor restrictions due to the pandemic, meaning 89% of their funding has disappeared. But there is no lockdown on PREVENTING EXTINCTION or RESCUING INJURED  AND ORPHANED ANIMALS! They have continued rescuing wildlife despite the financial pressures, and are receiving more animals than ever as smaller rescue centers close down. It is essential to their survival that the community helps them continue their work.

They have a long ways to go! But they are fulfilling a vital need and deserve support of the community.

Updated 10/27/2021

Romeo - Pottery of San Juan del Oriente

Romeo Gallegos
Many in our community know Romeo from his door to door sales and also from various events in and around Grecia where he was able to sell the beautiful pottery that his family creates. His father-in-law was the first person in their town to learn to throw pots back in the mid 1970's.
Covid has deeply affected his family's ability to earn - period. A number of us have been chipping in to send him funds to keep them going until such time as he is able to return to Costa Rica to sell again.
If you would like to be on the monthly reminder list to send a stipend to help, please contact Diane.
Also, we set up a GoFundMe page  for him - although more will get to him if you send to Diane direct and pay via PayPal.
Thank you for your consideration, no amount is too small.
updated 10/27/2021

Cajon Arriba School Supplies annual fundraiser

Starting early, this fundraiser usually starts in January, but we are giving you advance notice now! This fundraiser is for school uniforms. School starts in early February.

Kids are not allowed to come to school without uniforms (to not discriminate against poor kids) but those uniforms are expensive. The uniform for one child is roughly CRC 20,000, which includes shoes, sox, “bottoms” (skirt or pants) and “tops” (shirt or blouses). This does not include school supplies, a backpack or a warm sweater. 

The need is for about 25 kids (last years' figures) to go to school. We will collect the cash from our donors (colones or Dollars) and buy those uniforms per specifications and sizes given to us from the head mistress in el Cajón Alto. Please contact Irina Just at ticajust@gmail.com or via WhatsApp at 8420-7285, to pledge your support for our neighborhood kids - and we appreciate your generous donation!

Sarchi Annual School Uniforms Fundraiser

A basic education is provided free to every child in Costa Rica. The caveat: you can't attend class without a uniform. The children from the poorest of the poor deserve an opportunity for an education and a better life. So, there has been an organized effort to identify the most-needy elementary school children in the Sarchi canton and provide them with school uniforms that enable them to attend school when otherwise they would not be able.

The cost for a school uniform for an elementary age child varies annually, but costs around 20-mil colones. When the school year starts in early February, Sarchi's school headmasters provide us with the number of students, their gender and uniform sizes. For the past six years, uniforms are purchased with the funds collected and every child possible gets a chance to attend school and get an education. During this time, hundreds of children have had a shot at an education that would otherwise not have. Please help.
To donate, contact: Don Davis ddcasacostarica@gmail.com or 8969-4538.  
Suicide Prevention Program

DUO: Para La Prevencion del Suicidio

Nonprofit organization for the prevention of the phenomenon of suicide.
DUO is a voluntary and professional workspace for the community, it develops several projects to give attention, promote education and promote sensitivity to various public and private instances regarding suicide prevention.

The group contributes for each professional hour of designing or execution of tasks, a value of $ 45 (unit value per volunteer). Between September 10, 2020 and June 30, 2021, 420 hours have been invested on volunteer work, which is equivalent to just over $17,000, which translates into direct social investment.
We invite our readers to review the financial needs of DUO via this document.

We hope you will want to contribute to this new organization. The financial account information to donate via Banco de Costa Rica or Banco National can be found here.
Updated 10/27/2021
An Opportunity for All of Us

Strong Missions

submitted by Aaron Aalborg

In our Costa Rican happiness, we are surrounded by silent suffering. Families go hungry. Children are deprived of love, comfort and opportunity. Mostly we see little of this, because we do not visit the deprived areas of the Central Valley. Some problems are hiding just off our own streets, in Sarchi, the ridges of Grecia and beyond. Wouldn’t it be great if somehow we could do something about it? If only we could share our own luck and happiness...My neighbor, Charlie Strong, and I have a mutual interest and background in martial arts. He is a Black belt in Karate. This makes for convivial conversation at barbeques. From this, I became vaguely aware that he teaches local children and was involved in other charitable activities. Only after he invited me to see a Karate contest did the broader scope, success and the ambitions of his charity become clear. His is a story worth telling.
Charlie is from a modest background in south Texas. He explains that he was a rumbustious young fellow. He had dropped out of college and was wasting his life, partying. He drifted through various jobs. Like many of us, he was dissatisfied and did not know why. He was helped to find his life’s path by a local Methodist Church. For those who are not religious like me, please read on. He wanted to help young people to have a better chance in life, instead of the drugs and gangs which awaited many of them. To that end he resumed his education, became a minister and worked at various college campuses.

In 2003 he led a team that visited Costa Rica, to help 20 children with special education needs. The children had cerebral palsy or various other severe learning difficulties. Charlie and his team helped with IT support and teaching. One child desperately needed surgery and had no funding. Charlie raised the money in the US, returning alone that year to follow up and extend his activities. During his further visits he met his wife Angela. She has completed her business degree and has joined him working in the program for the past year.

Charlie founded what has become Strong Missions. Its vision is that all families in Latin America have the right to attain a dignified life. The mission is to develop Latin American communities through sustainable investment in order to break the cycle of poverty, end delinquent behavior and reduce social risk, thereby bringing about changes in global perspectives.  Since 2004 it has grown to be an officially recognized charity in the US and Costa Rica, with a supervisory board in both countries.

Strong Missions now has other staff and hundreds of help providers. The team works in a non-denominational and secular way.  It fulfills the above vision through four programs, to break the cycle of poverty.

The programs are:
  • Feeding the hungry- currently they buy food for 100 meals a day and are aiming for 700 by 2018.
  • Education- The organization provides scholarships to help keep children stay in education, whose family situations would not support this. Grades and progress are checked. The aim is to offer 200 of these a year by 2018. Role model tutors are also provided.
  • Community activities- These help build the self-esteem of children at risk and keep them out of the hands of gangs and drug dealers. Activities include both Arts and Sports. These programs too are expanding, but to give a flavor, 150 children are Karate students. Basketball, volley ball and soccer are planned. 50 children are in the theatre arts group, 60 are in dance, and others will study music, arts and crafts.
  • Constructing community facilities- This is an astonishingly successful program and includes activities in Sarchi, Poas, La Carpio, Los Guido de Desamparados, all around Grecia, Alajuela and beyond. This program brings hundreds of volunteer workers from the US, Canada and elsewhere, averaging 600 annually. The volunteers are provided with lodgings and support. They have constructed school, orphanage, homes, playgrounds, access ramps and handrails for the disabled and community buildings. In addition, they repair roofs and upgrade existing buildings. They provide gardens and knowhow where the poor can grow their own organic vegetables.

Presently, Charlie has a hub facility in progress near Grecia. It will provide dormitories for volunteer workers, sports and teaching areas and much more. As my US friends would say, I am ‘blown away and stoked’ by what I have discovered.

So what can you do to help? Visit the website and Facebook page to learn more.    

Office phone 2444 0321 (Monday through Friday-8am to 5 pm)

You can help by:
Supporting construction, painting, laboring or whatever
Teaching English
Funding (Tax deductible in the US and Costa Rica)
Help with children’s activities

Charlie Strong is happy to talk to individuals and groups about these activities. He has moving examples of the differences his team has made to peoples’ lives.

Updated 12/4/2022

Children's Home - Residencia de Vida - San Isidro de Grecia

Here is an opportunity to help out locally.  The children in this group home have many needs that we are asking for help in providing.

Cherie McCullah, an American, is the founder of Residencia de Vida.  The RDV Director is Ericka Peters, also an American.  The children are helped by the Tico staff and by Expat volunteers.      

The RDV focus is to take in siblings or other children that are less likely to be adopted.  This means they remain in the system for years where adoption or a return to their family is rare.  As of October 2016 RDV has seven girls and two boys ranging in age from 7 to 15, several of them siblings.   

An application was submitted to open a second nearby facility in early 2017 for an additional ten new children.  This is part of a long range plan to open ten homes to take in a total of 100 children.  Cherie hopes to open more houses as there is a continued need for homes for children in our area.  RDV is looking to obtain furnishings, supplies, and everything it takes to make a home for children. 

A long term RDV goal is to ensure the children become functional in English and develop good school and work skills.  Part of the RDV plan is to allow the children a transition phase when they turn 18.  Normally they would leave a group home at 18; however, the Residencia de Vida vision is to allow the now young legal adult of just 18 an opportunity for continued support while they pursue college or other career options.  

We are asking the Expat community to volunteer and/or donate as they are able.

Possible ideas include baking for birthday celebrations, tutoring, assisting with outings, organizing fundraisers, assisting with purchasing/donating items for the children and the home, helping with construction and building and ground maintenance.  We would love ideas for a big annual fundraiser similar to the Atenas Chili Cook Off, so let us know if you are able to donate and/or volunteer.
The coming school break means the children will have more free time and we are looking for volunteers to help with outings and activities at the home.   

We are able to have people visit the home for a tour and see for themselves how Residencia de Vida provides for the children.

We can provide our list of needed items and services for those wishing to see more details of what we need.   
RDV is licensed by the Costa Rican Health Department and the National Child Welfare Agency, PANI (Patronato Nacional de la Infancia). 

Please contact Cherie at cheriemccullah@gmail.com or her cell at 8870 2939, or William Zastrow at william.zastrow.career@gmail.com, cell # 8305 6222 if you can help out.   

updated 10/27/2021

A Ray of Hope in Grecia - Escuela de Ensenanza Especial de Grecia

by Sandra Fernandez-Lopez

There is a very well kept secret in Grecia, a veritable jewel of a place that is a hidden treasure!  A place where special students can thrive and flourish and come to nourish their minds, bodies and spirit.

There is a huge need for some very special students at a very special school in Grecia.  The Escuela de Ensenanza Especial de Grecia takes on the daily task of educating and caring for students with special needs since 1982.  

There are 117 students and only 14 teachers to handle their special needs.  The students range in age from a few months old to 18 years old, but the school will take them up to age 21.  The students all suffer from many challenges including cerebral palsy, autism, developmental retardation and many other developmental and physical diseases. Additionally, many come from homes with extreme poverty, and there is a huge lack of transportation to get these beautiful souls to this outstanding place that helps them gain some skills to survive in the world.  

THE NEEDS:  The school is in great need of repair and renovation.  There are only two bathrooms for the students, teachers and staff.  Additional classrooms and storage facilities are needed and the tiny kitchen where lunches are prepared is also in need of some updating.

In the case of bathroom necessities, there is only one handicapped bathroom which is located outside of the main building, and children in wheelchairs have to be wheeled out on a very rough hewn uncovered concrete pathway to get them there.  As you can imagine, in the rainy season, it is truly a challenge.  Additionally, the bathroom really needs to have a shower for times when that may be required.  DEDICATED, COMPASSIONATE TEACHERS:  The Teachers are doing a yeoman's job.  Most teachers handle up to seven students each.  They are required to change diapers as well as try to provide the students with some sort of training to assist them in the future to become adults with some sort of employable skills.   There are two Speech Therapists and one Physical Therapist to assist with the many students that require that therapy.

CALL TO ACTION:    We have looked at the repair and renovation needs and it is something that we feel can indeed be accomplished with the help of the community.  According to the Director of the school, Maria Isabel Salas Arrieta, the government has donated enough materials to accomplish a large portion of the renovation required to build an additional classroom.  This classroom is sorely needed as most of the classrooms are extremely small rooms which are not sufficient to handle the children in their wheelchairs. WE NEED YOUR HELP!  If you can provide any sort of handyman skills.  Of course we need electrical, plumbing, cement work and carpentry, but there is plenty of work that requires less skills such as helping the skilled trades with running errands, bringing tools, clean up, handing them water, you know....the little things! 

!  Additionally there are many beautiful plants and flowers that have been donated, but we need gardening types to assist with planting them.  Even using this activity as a learning moment for the kids who can assist with the planting would be extremely beneficial to everyone.   
Learn more on their Facebook page.

You can also contact John Brewer johnwbrewer1929@gmail.com or call 8400-1929 no voice mail, please. John's current project to help this school is offering free courses to bilingual students in how to trade in cryptocurrency. All proceeds (your donations used as demonstration to students), go to the Special Needs School.
Updated 10/30/2021

Wise Girls Menstrual Education Program

  In our beloved land of “Pura Vida,” there is a shadow over the pure life that Costa Rican Girls deserve. In 2020, a staggering 10.6% of total births in Costa Rica were delivered by teenagers, according to the United Nations Population Fund. The vision of Ninas Sabias (Wise Girls) Menstrual Education platform is for all our Girls to become Sanas, Seguras y Sabias. (Strong, Safe, and Wise). 

We strengthen a Girl’s confidence by knowing, loving, and caring for her on her personal female journey by: 
 - Providing supplies and resources to competently manage menstruation.
- Delivering impactful educational experiences on menstruation and fertility.
- Boosting self-esteem through sexuality and health awareness.
- Strengthening peer bonds and trusted support systems.
- Distributing sustainable menstrual management kits, designed to last three years, to ensure continued schooling. 
The Niñas Sabias (Wise Girls) Menstrual Education platform proudly aligns with 6 of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals:
Good health and well-being
Quality education
Gender equality
Clean water and sanitation
Decent work and economic growth
Responsible consumption and production  

Alex and Rebe

Perhaps you have heard of them - Alex Reyes Montoya and Rebeca Salazar Mesen were in a horrific car accident in September of 2020. Rebe sustained head injuries, as did Alex. He also lost both of his arms, one at the shoulder and the other just below. 
They are campaigning to raise funds for the purchase of prostheses for Alex. A good cause if ever there was one! Alex is a real inspiration, he has appeared on numerous TV shows, there are benefits being held as well. You can see his story on Facebook.
posted 11/16/2022