House of Good Vibrations!

Today we handed over the keys to the “House of Good Vibrations,” as I now call it, thanks to the love and generosity of over 80 individuals, couples and families who built and furnished the small blue “Home for Juan Manuel!”

18 people attended an appreciation ceremony this morning, during which the new owners, Don Rodolfo and Juan Manuel, expressed their thanks to the VidaMaz community. Juan Manuel and Don Rodolfo both were completely overwhelmed with your generosity. They both cried several different times and were at a complete loss for words. You truly have changed their lives and filled them with hope! They plan to move in tomorrow. Many people arrived today bearing food and gifts to help the men settle into their new home.

One of the attendees recorded the “giving of the keys” ceremony on her cell phone. Sadly the wind was rather gusty at times, but I believe  you can hear most of it. The full video is below:

We first announced this project to build a small house on November 25, 2020. Initially it was to be a 3 x 4 meter home with an outdoor bathroom and kitchen. Since Juan Manuel is on crutches (he has only one leg) and blind, we felt the home needed indoor plumbing, and you agreed. We ended up building a home that is 4 x 6 meters, so still very small, but very livable and much better than anything they would have dreamed possible. You even helped us install hot water! You all donated kitchen sink, cupboards, refrigerator, microwave, utensils, bathroom sink, toilet, shower, mirror, a shelf, a trundle bed, two tables, four chairs, a ceiling fan, boiler, a tinaco, concrete, gravel, doors, windows, septic tank… you truly rocked this! You gave monetary donations of 20 to 32,000 pesos. Thank you!

Every step of the way, if we had difficulties, you came through to help. We had been searching for weeks for a trundle bed. Two men will live here, but there is not enough room in the house for two single beds and a user of crutches to move around. Last week we kindly received the donation of the donor’s grandson’s beloved, solid wood trundle bed with two mattresses AND handmade quilts! Juan Manuel and Don Rodolfo were over the moon when they saw it. Zata installed the front walkway this week, but, of course, most of Mazatlán has been without water this week. How to make concrete for the stairs? No worries; we figured it out.

In the end, we came in exactly with the money needed. Greg and I personally paid for a bonus to thank Zata, our albañil; without his honesty and dedication I can only imagine how difficult this project might have been.

Total Spent: 130,795 pesos or US$6507

Construction: 94,886
Refrigerator: 1225
Boiler, install and protection: 7784
Walkway and yard work: 14,300
Electrical from street: 12,600

The amount above is significantly higher than our original estimate for this project, but that estimate was for a basic structure only: no windows, doors, plumbing, electrical nor interior furnishings. Even with the ease with which it functioned—your generous donations, no theft, an honest and dependable builder—it was way more work than any of us imagined it would be. Feeling the joy and happiness of these two men today, however, made it more than worthwile. I trust you are happy to have participated.

The full story of the building of this house is right here. You can read it from the beginning if you are interested:

  1. Nov 25: My introduction of Juan Manuel and his father, plus asking you to help with the project
  2. Dec 1: An initial budget plus 22 donations
  3. Dec 8: Our first hiccups: re-examining the initial plans and having to find a new builder
  4. Dec 13: Architectural plans and a wonderful new builder
  5. Dec 16: Ground breaking!
  6. Dec 21: Foundation and plumbing during the second week of construction
  7. Dec 24: A Christmas Message from Juan Manuel plus thank you’s to the new neighbors
  8. Jan 2: Don Rodolfo’s first glimpse of his new home
  9. Jan 10: The roof is up!
  10. Jan 18: 87,000 pesos collected, but trouble paying our builder
  11. Jan 26: Exterior is plastered
  12. Feb 1: Interior plaster, delays on the windows and doors prevent us proceeding
  13. Feb 18: House is painted; videos of interior, exterior and the view from the roof
  14. Feb 25: Kitchen is in!
  15. Mar 8: Refrigerator, boiler and an invitation to donors

Bless you all! I trust your heart is bursting with joy! Pretty much everyone who attended the ceremony this morning remarked at how moved they felt, how honored they were to be able to make a difference in someone’s lives, and how wonderful it is to be in the company of people committed to making this world a bit sweeter.

Almost Ready to Hand Over the Keys!

Bless you all! Time for celebration!!!

Everyone who donated should have received an invitation from me to a ceremony of appreciation and handing over of the keys to A Home for Juan Manuel next Saturday, March 13, at 11 am. If you have supported this effort and the internet intercepted your invitation, please send me a private message and I will resend it to you. We are limiting attendance due to the pandemic. Masks and social distancing are required. We will conduct tours of the small home for two people at a time, and Juan Manuel and Don Rodolfo will join us. It will be a short and simple ceremony, but full of love and caring—you all have done a beautiful thing!

This past week we:

  • Built a simple back patio and installed the donated washboard and a water hookup.
  • Purchased and installed a water heater and protection with another very generous donation earmarked for this purpose.
  • Received the donation of the major part of a brand-new refrigerator, with us making up the final 1225 pesos, thanks to Mueblería Valdez and Liz Garza.
  • Our two wonderful painter volunteers, Martin and Marie-Anne Glaude, finished painting the inside of the house.

We had a hiccup today when we went out to the house, as water was coming off the roof. It seems the float in the tinaco has broken and is not registering when the tank is full. Zata fixed that once already, but we shut the water off and he will fix it again and hopefully for good tomorrow.

This week his goal is to add fill to even out the front yard a bit. It won’t be anywhere near perfect, but it’ll be better. Zata will also move the extra donated gravel to the side yard, so the yard looks cleaner and more finished. Finally and best of all, he will build a front sidewalk leading up to the house. We had hoped for a ramp, and Kay Rodgers kindly collected money for it, but what we have available isn’t quite enough. Thus, we have opted to have Zata put in a concrete walkway with extra deep steps (five in total, I believe, as it’s a steep grade up to the house). Juan Manuel should be able to use it with his crutches no problem, and it should be easy enough to add a ramp later if and when he needs to use a wheelchair. Hopefully that day won’t come!

Thank you and may good karma shower over you for a long time! The home is much better and more solid than originally planned, thanks to all of you: indoor kitchen and bath, hot water, brand-new microwave and refrigerator, bright coats of paint. I look forward to thanking you live and in person on Saturday, as do Juan Manuel, Don Rodolfo, Greg, Jorge, Yolanda and Zata.

The Kitchen is In!

You all are absolutely the BEST! Thank you for your generosity in making it possible for us to build a Home for Juan Manuel!

In our last post to you we showed you the newly painted outside of the house with its doors and windows in place, including several videos. Today I am happy to report that we have a working kitchen installed, using donated wooden cabinet doors and a steel sink and building a base around them for kitchen storage and a counter to cook on. Woot woot! We also have water and electricity functioning in the house! Zata has built a very basic back patio using extra block and gravel, where a hose bib and donated washboard will be installed so Juan Manuel and Don Rodolfo can wash their clothes and the water will run off or soak in rather than make mud. Click on any photo to enlarge it or view a slideshow.

A good friend of mine has offered to donate a brand new refrigerator. Fingers crossed! So, all we seem to be missing are:

  •  A small boiler for hot water—might you know someone who has one???
  • And two single beds (a trundle bed would be ideal) or at least single mattresses, as anything larger will not fit in this very small home.

Please help if you can. Ways to donate to support this project are listed at the bottom of the very first post in the series.

Once the above projects are finished, we still need to paint the interior. Some work remains on the septic tank as well.

My hope is that next time I write to you it will be to invite you to the masked and socially distanced celebration at which we hand over the keys to the home’s new owners! Bless you all!!!

A House That Looks Like a House

Following is an update on the House for Juan Manuel. To read the first article and learn more about this exciting project, click here.

As the final days of work on the house are upon us, things are moving quickly.

All of the contracted work is completed and paid for. We have also completed and paid for a few things we did not anticipate, including a very expensive connection to electrical service. But life is what it is. All that is left now are some housekeeping issues and the kitchen completion.

To give you some context, we have uploaded some videos to YouTube. Apologies that my voice is muffled due to my mask, and the video from the roof has a lot of wind noise.

The interior video gives you an idea of what a four by six meter house looks like. We are finalizing how to approach the kitchen in the most economical way possible to ensure that there is a flat surface to place a stove top, a place for a microwave, flat surface for prep work and storage for food and kitchen wares. The interior walls have been sealed and await a coat of paint next week.

The exterior video highlights a wonderful paint job by Yolanda and two volunteers, Marie-Anne and Martin Glaude. Second coat to follow next week. You can also see the area where we are going to make a crude laundry wash station from some leftover concrete blocks, leftover gravel and a donated wash basin. We are also, fingers crossed, going to get some fill dirt that will compress nicely to clean up the entrance to the home.

Here are some photos of the painting team in action:

The video from the roof puts in perspective the location of the home relation to the parts of Mazatlan most of us know well and provides an idea of the surrounding area.

In watching the videos, there are some things I would like to point out that show just how many different ways we benefited from the larger Mazatlan community. You will see:

  • A tinaco on the roof which was donated
  • All of the windows were donated (we paid for the iron bars that protect them)
  • The front door was donated and we paid to have it resized. There we also got the ceiling fan, light switches and outlets.
  • The iron door in back was donated and modified to fit.
  • The kitchen sink was donated.
  • The bathroom sink, toilet and shower head were donated

This in addition to all the pesos we received to cover construction and materials costs. We are so grateful, as are Don Rudolfo and Juan Manuel.

We are currently using all our networks to source two twin mattresses and with a miracle amount of luck, a trundle bed to allow for storage during the day. If the miracle does not occur, we will try to source two basic bed frames. We are hoping to receive a refrigerator as well. We have plumbed for hot water, but have not been able to provide a boiler. Boilers are not common as the logical location, outside, makes them prone to theft and premature aging. We considered an on-demand boiler placed inside but the pressure there is virtually non-existent. So that would mean a pump. We have one donated, but they are not allowed in these neighborhoods as that would allow one house to take all the water for the street as they are all on a shared water line. We will hold the pump for a future project. So, with funds about exhausted, and out of ideas, we opted to simply provide the plumbing and make hot water a standalone project for us or somebody else down the road.

We have been asked about a move in date, and we don’t yet know. The house truly looks like a house and we feel all of your excitement along with our own, that of our team and even of the neighbors in the invasion. We have learned a lot about building in an invasion and how teamwork and communication across cultures is the key to success.

When the kitchen is done and the painting is finalized, we will update you again. Until then, thank you, thank you, thank you for making this happen. While we are the ones on-site, it was your generosity that made this all possible. It is our hope to be able to invite you all—masked and social distanced—to the gifting of the house. More on that soon.

Home Update February 1st

Jorge, Dianne and Zata

It’s a new month! Can you believe it’s already the second one of this new year?! Where has time gone? There are so many people in town for the Serie del Caribe; please take precautions for your health and safety, as hospital occupancy and COVID infections continue on the rise.

This past week we finished up the basic structure of the Home for Juan Manuel! It looks great! The inside walls are now plastered, the cement floor is finished, and a hole for the septic tank has been dug. A woman has kindly donated a ceiling fan with a wall switch, so we will use this one for this project and keep the hotel’s ceiling fan for a future project (this one is much nicer). We are coordinating with the authorities to have electrical and water connected to the house. Click on any photo to enlarge it or view a slideshow.

This coming week Zata will seal the floor, put waterproofing on the roof and outdoor walls, finish the hot water connection and build a platform for the tinaco. If time remains, he will work on bringing electricity from the pole to the house and begin to install a drainage system in the back of the house for used water. A friend of Yolanda’s will come to build the septic tank, making it out of block in the front so it’s more accessible for the truck that will pump it out.

The biggest challenge we’ve had for several weeks has been an inability to secure the house, which stops us from finishing up anything inside. A woman has kindly and generously volunteered to install windows, but she has been out of town for a few weeks. The wooden door we got from the hotel needs to be resized, but we can’t find a carpenter to do that for us affordably. Without an ability to secure the house, we can’t install finishes such as sinks, switches and toilets, as they will get robbed. Thus, the five of us met today: Greg, Jorge, Yolanda, Zata and me, and decided to bite the bullet and buy security bars for the two missing windows and a security door for the front. Once secured, Zata should be able to quickly proceed with installing interior fixtures.

Bless you all! This is a love-filled, charitable project for a very good cause, and your generosity and cooperation are making it possible. Thank you. Should you or anyone you know care to help out, the ways to donate are:

  • Click the “Donate” link in the right-hand column on this VidaMaz.com website, and pay via PayPal.
  • Go to any OXXO and donate to BanCoppel account 4169-1603-7041-0699 (photo below) in the name of Yolanda Medina.

  • Canadians who prefer to email money can send it to Jeanette Leraand: jleraand@gmail.com
  • Contact Yolanda via WhatsApp at 669 431 4529 to arrange a time to meet and give her your donation.
  • Contact me at dianne@vidamaz.com and I’ll pick up your donation.