Chicken Breakfast 2016

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Kids charming the camera woman while they line up for candy!

Want to have the best Christmas ever? Join us to bring joy to those in need! It’s a whole lot of fun, and a memory you will never forget!

Since 1990, Yolanda Medina and her family from the Quince Letras area of town have spearheaded an effort to feed those in need at Christmas time. In 2015, we fed over 3000 families with your help!

What is the “Chicken Breakfast?”
It is a two-step process to feed the neediest in our community.

First is a fundraising breakfast held in early December to raise money to buy one whole chicken and ten days’ worth of food for each family—we buy for as many families as we possibly can.

Second, on Christmas Eve morning (24 December), dozens of us gather together to load trucks and go out to the invasiones, the poorest, “squatter” areas of Mazatlán, to make people happy and hand out the goods! We give the chickens and foodstuffs, plus gently used clothing, linens, shoes, coats, and new toys and candy.

It is important to know that several of us go out to the squatter areas the week before Christmas. There we meet with area leaders and go around with them to hand out tickets, to ensure that those in need receive what they need, and that no one cheats or “double dips.” We especially want to ensure that we get food and clothes to the elderly and the disabled, so we go door to door to make sure everyone knows about the event, and to make plans to get things to those who can’t walk to the delivery site.

The history:

Yolanda Medina’s daughter, María Yolanda, was very sick. She and her husband kept vigil in the hospital, taking care of all their daughter’s needs. As Yoly’s sister-in-law Isa tells the story:

“It was Christmas Eve 1990, and María Yolanda’s days were counted. Yolanda and her late husband, Modesto, were in no mood to eat, let alone have a Christmas Dinner with all the fixings. But that night, a woman knocked on the hospital room door and peeked to see if there was someone with the patient. She came in to hand Yolanda and Modesto a box with a hot Christmas Dinner meal — and told them Merry Christmas and that God was with them. Yolanda never forgot that gesture.

After María Yolanda passed away, Yolanda got us all together and told us what had happened. So, the first couple of years, we had culinary arts students volunteer their time to prepare a Christmas Dinner meal, with donated ingredients from friends and family, and all of us volunteered to fill disposable thermal boxes with the hot dinners, load them into cars and pick-up trucks, and off we went, to hospitals, traffic intersections, parks — wherever we thought we might find people that, for one reason or another, wouldn’t be privy to a nice Christmas Dinner.

However, this was a huge effort, and very expensive, so we couldn’t cover that much ground. So we thought in terms of something more practical, something that could be cooked and prepared at home. This way, we could make sure many more families could have a Christmas Dinner. That’s when we started the Desayuno de los Pollos.”

How to help:

  1. Buy (or sell) tickets for the fundraising breakfast. Contact me at dianne@vidamaz.com, or buy them from anyone selling them around town. Post and Ship in the Golden Zone (beside Dolce Mami, across from FedEx) will have tickets also.
  2. Download a poster you can print out to help sell tickets or collect donations. Write on the poster with your details.
  3. Make crafts or baked goods to be sold at the bazaar during the breakfast.
  4. Donate (or gather) items for the silent auction (download a gift certificate, artwork, restaurant meals, hotel stays, airfares…)
  5. Help set up, cook, serve or clean up after the breakfast.
  6. Donate money (in person or click on the link), gently used clothing, diapers, lightly worn shoes, linens, blankets coats, new toys, or candy. 100% goes to those in need. Post and Ship will be happy to collect items if you drop them off there (beside Dolce Mami, across from FedEx).
  7. Help pack the food into packets—the week before Christmas.
  8. Help us load the trucks and deliver the goodies on December 24th! This is, of course, the most fun and a terrific tradition with friends and family.

When and where is the breakfast?
In 2016, it’s on Saturday December 10th, 8:30-10:30 am in the cruise ship dock/API. Please join us and bring all your friends! Your 180 peso ticket includes a full homemade breakfast, coffee and juice, a ticket for the door prize, a ticket for the raffle, and access to the Christmas bazaar.

API dock is on Emilio Barragón nearly across from the new OXXO. Below is a map. If you can’t find it, ask any taxi driver or blue shirt/Tourism Volunteer.

API

How can I get to Quince Letras on December 24th, or to help pack?
Come by 6:30 am if you are driving a truck, 7:00 am if you are helping us load and deliver. We usually finish by 11:30 or noon, but some years it’s taken longer (depends how many routes you participate in).

Quince Letras, corner of Tampico and Francisco Villas streets We load from either side of this

Quince Letras, corner of Tampico and Francisco Villas streets We load from either side of this “Coca Cola” store on the corner

LOCATION: 15 (QUINCE) LETRAS, corner of Francisco Villa and Tampico, just down the hill from the Church of Cristo Rey (Christ the King—photo below).

  1. From Avenida del Mar turn East at the Fisherman’s Monument.
  2. Go to the first light and turn right.
  3. Proceed one block and turn left (Francisco Villa street, just before the Pemex station).
  4. Go two blocks.
  5. If you are NOT driving a truck or transporting supplies, please park in the next block. This will give us room for loading. Once you’ve parked, walk another block down, past the iron works business called “Quince Letras.” On the corner of Francisco Villa and Tampico you will see a small store with a bright red “Coca Cola” hand painted on the outside, across from a tortillería. A door next to the Cocheras Automaticas business will be open. That’s Yolanda’s mother’s house, and it’s from there that we’ll be loading.
  6. If you are driving a truck or transporting supplies, please drive up to Tampico street (the “Coca Cola” store on your right on the corner), turn right, and park. We will be loading right there.

IMG_0669If you can’t find it, just ask someone for “Quince Letras” or “Desayuno de los Pollos/Medina family.” Everyone in the area will know.

Merry Christmas to all! And see you there!

  1. Download a poster you can print out to help sell tickets or collect donations. Thank you for your help!
  2. Download and view or use a PowerPoint presentation with a full explanation of the project: chicken-breakfast-presentation
  3. Download a gift certificate to fill out, and we’ll advertise your business or service at the breakfast! Just contact us and we’ll pick it up!

Have questions? Contact the organizers:

  • Jorge Medina (speaks English well) on his mobile, (669) 110-0744
  • Yolanda Medina (some English) at (669) 431-4529

Santa Visits the Isla

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Don Wood, the Santa of Isla de la Piedra

I’ve been touched by the cool tradition of the “Gringo Santa” who hands out candy to the children on Stone Island. I find it encouraging when someone does their best to spread good cheer to others, and especially so when that someone is an immigrant in an adopted home.

So when our friend Dallas and his wife Rocio invited us to join the parade this year, to meet Santa and his helpers and enjoy the fun, we were ready to go! Danny and Rohit joined us, as did our friend Genaro and his kids.

Don Wood has been playing Santa on the Isla for about nine years now. He has a wonderful team of helpers who support the effort. The crew purchases 8000 pesos worth of candy-stuffed stockings, and then they pull a sleigh with a three-wheeler to be sure kids—old and young alike—get one. Click on a photo to enlarge it or view a slideshow.

We spent about two and a half hours handing out candy today, winding along the streets and alleys of the village and, at the end, right down the beach as well. The kids were so excited! Albañiles stopped working, and grandparents came running as well, so candy is obviously not just exciting for the little ones.

Santa has some very well-dressed and happy helpers, and the recipients of the candy stockings were all quite thrilled as well. Since Dallas drove the three-wheeler that pulled Santa, and Rocio played Mrs. Claus, Greg drove the rest of us in Dallas’ truck. Oh did we have fun!

After all the hard work, we enjoyed a terrific lunch together with our new friends at a palapa on the beach. We are very grateful to have been included. It was a great warm-up for handing out chickens tomorrow morning!

Below are just a few more pics I took today.


Happy holidays, everyone! And, Dallas, Rocio, Don, Nancy and crew—thank you and God bless you for what you do each Christmas!

Handing Out Tickets for Chickens

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So happy to have his ticket for a chicken and despensas! He offered to make us mole.

Thanks to your help we are able to feed 2800 families for a couple of weeks at Christmas time. This has been going on for over a quarter of a century, and is called “The Chicken Breakfast” or Desayuno de los Pollos. On the morning of Christmas Eve (December 24th) we hand out a whole chicken plus despensas (rice, beans, sugar, oil, etc.) to families living in often dire conditions. This is an event coordinated by the Medina family, and it is very multicultural and bilingual. Join us and get to know some very cool people!

There are so very many ways you can help. How about buying some Christmas-themed fabric on sale after the holidays, and either making things for the bazaar next year with it, or giving it to us, and we’ll find women who will transform that fabric into goodies? How about collecting or donating things for the silent auction? Know someone who deals in chickens or despensas? Help us get a deal to better feed the needy! You can attend the fundraiser breakfast next year. Put us on your 2016 calendar!

For this year, gather together some new toys or stockings filled with candy, kitchenware, or gently used clothing. Bring a truck if you have access to one. Meet us early on the morning of the 24th at Quince Letras (directions here at http://www.DesayunodelosPollos.com).

In the meantime, enjoy some of the photos from today. Click on any photo to see it larger or view a slideshow.

This event has made my Christmas for a long time, and it is a pleasure to be able to continue being involved. I wish you the happiest of holidays, and all the best in the new year!

The People You Touch

DSC_0808 Faces and Places of Colonia San Antonio

Every year we are privileged to be able to help the Medina family and all the others who help out with Desayuno de los Pollos. This year, thanks to help from so many of YOU, we have already been able to purchase 2500 whole chickens and pack up 1500 packs of despensas, or 10 days worth of food. This should feed about 13,000 families this year. We also take gently used clothes, toys and candy to share. In the slideshow below are photos of just a few of the people you touch. And, of course, they are people who very much touch us back in turn, making our holidays bright. (Click the arrows in the slideshow below to view photos more quickly. Please let me know what you think of these portraits! Thanks!)

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Yesterday I went out, as usual, with Yolanda and Jorge, to meet with community leaders of Colonia San Antonio. We handed out about 900 (!) tickets for food to members of the community. Why is this important? Because Colonia San Antonio, as so many other colonias on the outskirts of town (we give out food along 7-9 routes every year; San Antonio is just one of them), is an invasión. This means that the land on which the houses are built is privately owned, and the people living there are squatters. Normal procedure in these circumstances is that poor people move in, “squat” on the land, build homes out of pallets, recycled tarp, or even cardboard or metal. Eventually they band together and string electrical wire for themselves, and lay pipes for water. They have now done this in Colonia San Antonio.

Five or so years ago, when we first started going there to hand out chickens, they had neither water nor electricity. Now they do. I don’t see any transformers or breakers or anything, pretty much just a very long extension cord running from house to house. But, they do have electricity. Once the community grows large and successful enough, the city, or municipio, decides to access the colonia. The city pays the landowner for the land, and the people living in the invasión are required to start paying taxes.

The good news is, the squatters get to own their land and their homes. Some of the people who occupy the land in these invasiones, however, do not live there full time. Some come out to visit the homes they have only on the weekend, like a (very basic) country house. Others farm the land, but live in town. They basically squat as a way of making (a bit of) money, eventually, when the city decides to give the squatters a deed to the land they occupy.

Yolanda, Jorge and I go out here to meet with community leaders, so that they can take us around, home to home. They can tell us who lives here full time, and who only happens to be here once in a while. The community leaders tell us which families are most in need (maybe they need two chickens or packs of food, or extra clothing), and which are doing better than others. In this way, we can be as equitable as possible in what we hand out. This week, we were there from about 10 am till 2:00 pm.

It is one of my favorite days of the year. I am able to meet with incredible community leaders, people who themselves have fallen on hard times, don’t have much in the way of money, but who have the caring and the fortitude, the vision and the sense of justice, to better their communities. I also have the privilege to meet the people I’ve met with over the past five or so years that we’ve been going to Colonia San Antonio. I get to visit with people we know, and get a glimpse into how people there live.

This year, I made a point of taking photos of two things: the faces and the places of Colonia San Antonio. The first slide show, above, is of some of the faces of this invasión. You can see the joy, the dignity, and the difficulty these people experience every day. I have so very much to learn from so many of these people. I am so grateful to be able to meet with them and, hopefully, share with them a bit of joy and ease their burden just a bit.

The second slide show, below, is of the places: the homes, stores, and plazas of this colonia. It amazes me how simply people here live, how hard they work for what they have, yet how clean they keep their homes, the care and love they bestow on their children. How, despite the dust EVERYWHERE, most everyone has clean clothes and skin and hair. Nearly every home is decorated for the holidays, and many of them have beautiful demonstrations of religiosity as well, especially for the Virgen de Guadalupe. (Click on the arrows in the slideshow below to view all photos more quickly.)

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You are most welcome to join us on Christmas Eve morning, Wednesday this week, to caravan out to the 7-9 routes we’ll go on and hand out chickens, food, clothes, toys and candy. We’ll meet at Quince Letras downtown, 6:30 am if you have a pickup truck, 7:00 am if you are coming to help out. We should be finished by noon. Merry Christmas and see you Wednesday morning!

Part of the #MyGlobalLife Link-Up.

Santa’s Here Early!

1.P1220988I know many of you wonder why we live on the malecón. Isn’t it noisy? Yes, it is! And we love it! We get a parade at least once, sometimes several times a week. It is wonderful. Certain seasons of the year, we get several parades every day.

This evening, just as we were winding down from work, who should show up but Santa himself? I guess he got cold at the North Pole! It was a few Pepsi trucks, and Santa and his elves were handing out soda to those along the malecón. Now I hate that sugary sodas are causing diabetes and obesity in this country, but it sure was making everyone happy to see the jolly old man, and it sure was a nice transition from the work day to the evening for Greg and me. Bless you, Santa!

By the way, have you been wondering where the city will be holding the Feria de Navidad/Christmas Fair that they’ve held the last few years in the Bosque/city park? It will be December 19th through January 6th, 6:00-11:00 pm, at Salon Bacanora on Rafael Buelna. Entry, all rides (10 child rides, 9 family rides, and 3 “extreme” rides) and artistic presentations are completely free of charge. Refreshments will be available. Take the kids and grandkids! It’s always been a lot of fun.