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Carlsbad Volunteers Change Lives in Mexico One House at a Time

Carlsbad Hi-Noon Rotarians spent 16 hours in Tijuana building a 16x20-foot house with a sleeping loft for a family in Las Colonias, a poor area of Tijuana.

On March 16, twelve members of the Carlsbad Hi-Noon Rotary club along with some of their family members, spent 16 hours building a home for a family of four that had been living in a makeshift dwelling, created with cast-off lumber, old cardboard and dingy fabric, including old blanket pieces in Tijuana.

It was the 10th house in 10 years built by the Hi-Noon Rotarians under the auspices of Project Mercy, which has been coordinating such homebuilding projects for some 25 years. Not only did the Rotarians build the house in a day, but club members donated a large truckload of supplies to the family—from clothing to housewares to school supplies and food. Plus $300 in cash.

“It was a life-changing experience for all parties involved,” said Rotarian Al Wanamaker, who chaired this construction project as he has since the Hi-Noon Rotary Club first adopted this as a club project a decade ago. “From everyone who worked on the house to the recipients, it really was life-changing,” he said.

Project Mercy provided the lumber for the 16x20-foot house, along with preparing a cement slab floor. Then, as they have done for the past 10 years, the Hi-Noon Rotarians constructed the one-room house that includes an inside stairway to a sleeping loft.

According to Wanamaker, who otherwise owns and operates Al’s Cafe in the Village in Carlsbad, this year’s site was particularly challenging. There was little space in which to work since there was a large mound of debris and a five-foot hill on one side of the floor slab and a sharp drop-off on the other, leaving the team with little more than a foot of space beyond the slab.

Walls were constructed on the ground, then lifted into place by a team pushing them upward. After the walls were up, the team then constructed the roof, built the staircase and the loft, trimmed the windows and the front door and then painted.

Homeowner Anna joined the Hi-Noon Rotary Club crew for a photo in front of her new home, her young son in her arms. Her husband and his father, who shares the home with the young family, were at work all that day. Through an interpreter, she told the Rotarians she was "so happy for my son to have a house....We won’t be cold and wet anymore.” She said she hoped for a better life for him, and that she’d been worried he would get sick “and not be healthy.”

Wanamaker and the construction crew also went to visit the family who got a Carlsbad Hi-Noon Rotary-built home last year, and discovered that this indeed had been a life-changer for the single mom. She has been able to open and operate a seamstress business out her home, and as a result of that income, she has been able to add a stove, electricity,  a tile floor and other amenities most people take for granted.

“She was so happy to see us and wanted to show us everything,” Wanamaker said. “It was so good to see how this has improved her life and her family’s life,” he said.

Wanamaker said those who actually built the house, as well as all the many other club members who donated funds and goods to the family, deserve a lot of credit. “This is an example of Rotary’s projects around the world; helping others and providing basics for human existence,” he said.

The Hi-Noon Rotary build team consisted of Faye Bell, Kait Bell, Mark Ealy, Mary Fritz-Wilson, Patty and Jeff Johnson, Kay Ledson, Al Landis, Steve Mott, Dr. Mark Packard, Ken Ryan, Susan Toft, Walt Waggener and Al Wanamaker.  

The Carlsbad Hi-Noon Rotary Club meets Mondays at noon at the Hilton Garden Inn on Highway 101, just south of Palomar Airport Road. The club of almost 100 welcomes men and women interested in camaraderie in service to community and worldwide. For information, visit the club website at carlsbadhinoonrotary.org.

–Carlsbad Hi-Noon Rotary Press Release

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