Year Report 2017 Download with images
2017 Year-End Report
CEDULA JURIDICA: 3-006-204046.
Gail D. Nystrom, MA Ed.
Executive Director
Apartado: 458 Santa Ana Centro,
San José, Costa Rica
Telefono: (506) 8390-4192
Fax: (506) 2282-7629

We have officially completed our 20th year as a legally registered organization in Costa Rica!

Imagine when we started, we were one of only two foundations in the country , the other one being the Arias Foundation created by Nobel Prize winner Oscar Arias. There may have been a few others but they were not as visible as we were.

Our first fundraiser was organized by Patricia Reich and her gal pals and took place in the new Hotel Marriott in Belen. It was quite a night full of great food, flowers, entertainment a speech by me and over 250 people. She worked really hard to organize this event and, the funds we raised were enough to finance our projects for three years! Imgaine that…every month I would go to the newly arrived Scotia Bank and pick up $300 whole dollars to use for our projects.
We gave some uniforms to soccer teams, helped some women with food, worked with people living under bridges and had a lot of Eco Camp sessions.
Over the years there have been thousands of individual and group volunteers collaborting with us and in the early years we were quite the pioneers going anywhere our nose led us to help out in indigenous reserves, low income neighborhoods and with people living on the streets. Dartmouth College was our first big supporter sending a steady stream of volunteers for more than 8 years.
Everyone learned together as we found ways to keep our commitment to our never wavering mission and vision statement. We have always been determined to support at risk populations so they can improve the quality of their life while, at the same time, educating volunteers so they will make better decisions about how to use their resources in the future.
Imagine, the college students who worked with us back then are now professionals in a variety of fields with marriages and children well on the path. It is still my hope that they are making good and doing well in their lives and are remembering our shared vision about how to make the world a better place…
We started our partnership with CPI languge school about the same time they were creating their volunteer program and we have grown along with them ever since.
The teen groups came along and we were able to help organizations like America’s Adventure, Lifeworks, Overland, McMath high schools from Canada grow and build strong volunteer programs. Since our very first group we have managed to have a 100% health and safety record.
Twenty years later…we can look with pride as we drive around the country and realize: there is a classroom we built, a playground we put up, a mural we painted, a computer room we created, a library we developed. There is not a school between Escazu and Puriscal that we have not had some impact on over the years.
We have prevailed in the face of many obstacles, including a crisis in 2012 when we had a situation with an unscrupulous collaborator but as luck would have it, I was able to solve the situation with a dogged determination to continue. At exactly the same time, I had a personal crisis with my children and had to work through that. What did I learn? Be calm, be still, be steady, be strong and never fear. Now, I am very grateful to all those who were with me during this time and especially appreciate Sarah Blanchet, Fresia Saborio and Chris Thomas for being such good board members for so many years.
We have only grown and gotten more sure over the years. And so, in 2017, our 20th year, we can realize that we are a strong, powerful and steady force in the battle to erradicate poverty and all the problems that it brings. We have been like a university for the study of poverty from the ground up. We are the study, we are the proactive change makers who are seeing results of our work from three generations previous.
We are looking forward to continuing to share our knowledge and exchange ideas with others for many years to come as we explore what poverty is really about. We are now republishing three of our children’s books and hope to have the other seven published as funding becomes available. In addition, there are many other written pieces just needing a little polishing before they can get into the hands of the public. In the meantime, I have used Facebook as a platform to exchange ideas and thoughts with a wide variety of friends and fellow learners.
Specifically in 2017, our Foundation continued with its programs of development and support.
La Carpio
This community of 26,000 people continues to be the main focus of our work with programs in three different Family Well Being Centers each with its own flavor and program as developed by our community teaching guides. In addition, we have a strong sports program in which we use soccer as a means to the end of creating citizens of the future. We work with violence and drug situations with our corner boyz program and provide grief counseling when a house burns down, a son is murdered, a young child dies in a fire. We distributed hundreds of pairs of shoes and higiene kits and articles of clothing. Making special emphasis on nutrition, we have hosted 150 people every Saturday for a hot lunch program that combines reading, educational activities and spiritual connection through yoga and meditation to children from 2 to 18, youth, adults, elderly and soccer teams. The Auto Mercado continues to support us with daily donations of fruits, vegetables and bread to distribute to the most needy families in La Carpio. We provided healthy food to more than1,000 families on a regular basis through this program.
We have continued support from Café Britt coffee company with consistent orders to buy bags and other products created by our group of sewing women.

Venecia de San Carlos
We completed the upgrade of the Family Well Being Center in this town in the northern zone where Nicargauan refugees wander over the border looking for a way to find food to eat. Nela and Kela have been excellent guides for the children in this population. Volunteers who work with this program are able to combine their work experience with a visit to hot springs and horseback rides.
Our CBF building in Uvita is now complete and we have been able to provide art therapy programs for the “children of the beach” who are vulnerable to drug use and child prostitution and teen pregnancy. Here, volunteers take a swim in a pristine waterfall and can take a boat ride out into the ocean to look for whales, turtles, birds and fish.

Rio Claro
Here, on the southern border with Panama, Fatima and her team works with the children of a low income neighborhood called la Esperanza. She always hosts our volunteer groups with love and joy. While working with Fatima, volunteers have a chance to take a trip acaross the gulf to a beautiful beach where they enjoy lunch and have a hike into the rainforest. We also go to the border and visit with refugees in transit from Cuba, Africana countries and South America to the United States.

Indigenous groups
Years ago we had a vision of creating a way for volunteers to visit indigenous groups to learn from and with them. Two years ago we made up the name “The Path of the Seed People” and now, we have a very powerful, well organized itinerary for volunteers to visit six different groups of indigenous from upper Talamanca to the mountains of the southern zone. Our indigenous friends could not have been more welcoming and gracious with us and we are proud that we were able to strengthen their cultures by listening to their wisdom stories and ancient knowledge. We have also participated in their ceremonies and learned to make their crafts.

The Four Themes
Specifically this year we have been working on the concept of : No more drugs, no more violence, no more tin houses, no more mother’s tears. This program is to raise awareness about the topic of violence and its long term effects, drugs and how to rehabilitate people, the building of walls and houses so that people are living in places that are more stable, clean and comfortable and finally, helping people to understand how their violent attitudes and actions hurt the person that probably loves them the most – their mothers. We are strenghtneing women with our workshops, craft program and theater productions. We produced a small play called My Orchid which dealt with the subject of rape and child sexual abuse. Many brave women came forth and told in symbolic terms, how they were abused in so many ways.

Our partner organization in the States, Wells Mountain Initiative, has been a good friend to us, processing tax free donations in a timely and respectful manner. Every year we enthusiasticallly assist them in evaluating their scholar applicants and go to yearly meeting with their board members. It has been a pleasure to see how they have grown and developed over the years also.

Our administrative systems continue to grow and develop and we now have found a wonderful young woman who is able to digitilize all our receipts in a very proficient and accurate way. Again, we were granted permission by the tax department of the government to continue and are free and clear for the next two years. I learn every day more and more about accounting and reporting.
It has been a good run these last twenty years and we have no intention of slowing down. As a good friend often says …”I;m not getting older, I’m getting newer” This is how we feel.
Plans for next year include the upgrade of the building the Montesori is in and a new initiative called the Instituo Carpiano de Idiomas – ICI which in French means HERE – where voluneers will be working with all our population to be able to strengthen their english skills according to what they are learning in school. We want all our 550 students to be the best in their class so they have high self esteem and improved thinking skills.
We will be focusing on three main programs:
Nutrition and health along with Nutri vida food program we will provide a hot meal on Saturdays combined with interaction with books .

Education and the arts with a Montesori style kindergarten and a program of dance andmusic for children, youth and adults.t
Soccer for a group of 80 boys and youth combined with counseling , mentorship and permaculture farming

Infinite ideas give inifinite thanks. We are so grateful to all of you who have shared all these wonderful moments with us, even in the time we were sweaty and hungy and tired. Especially those moments.
We want to give a huge thank you to the donors who have helped us keep our programs going. The Holly and Gary Kaplan Foundation sponsors our annual Christmas festival along with our soccer teams and some of the upgrades on the houses. The Palmedo Family Foundation has been a huge help during the months when we don’t have volunteer groups so that we can continue with all our six Family Well Being Centers. The Epstein Family Foundation has been a great partner with us for many years as we grow and expand our programs. And, the Allen Stevenson School has come to our rescue three years in a row with donations to keep our centers stable and strong. Jeff Fischer continues for the twelfth year to donate when he has the luck to sell a house in his real estate company. Through Paypal, many other donors have helped us with smaller amounts that made it possible to continue to serve the thousands of people we are educating, feeding, caring for and motivating to make changes in their lives.
We look forward to 2018 and our special plans. Please follow our facebook page to keep up with all our activities and progress. Warmest wishes to all for a very happy and peaceful 2018.
Some of our “Faces of Change” success stories for this year include:
The abuelas with artist Patricia Erickson’s rendition of this great group of active older women

Children of La Libertad after having an art workshop in which they meditated and then painted their “safe place”. These pictures will be taped on the wall near their beds so if they feel afraid in the night, they can remember how it feels to be happy.

Nela with her son Benji visiting Maicol Urena and his son Niki. Children of La Libertad choose their tooth brushes and remember how important it is to brush teeth.

Randall has been with us since he was six years old. He now is paid to help deliverhe daily fruits and vegetable donation from Auto Mercado He is fifteen and, along with his four siblings, has completed another year of school with a graudation ceremony and diploma. Stela and her family of five children …each is now studying or working and living a normal life after years of struggle and seperation.

And Finally, on behalf of all of us of the CRHF family, we wish you the best for the new year and hope we can continue our friendship on into many years from now. Here we all are at the anual Christmas festival sponsored by the Kaplan Family Foundation sending out love to the world!