Rotary project at Talita Cumi Children's Home in Mexico

Monday, August 23, 2021

Michele and Harley O'Neil in Zihuatanejo Mexico

By Harley O'Neil, Jr.

On January 24, 2021, my wife, Michele, and I took our first trip to Zihuatanejo, MX with friends from Quincy, WA. 

While we were there I learned that another close friend of mine, Paul Blauert, was also there and he had been coming there for over twenty years. I asked him if there was a project my Shoreline Rotary Club could get involved. He called the assistant pastor of Four Square Church and scheduled a breakfast meeting the following day.

At the breakfast meeting, I learned that there was a Children's Home in Zihuatanejo that could use some help. The Assistant Pastor, Cristian Cruz, asked if I wanted to go out the following day? 

I asked, "What about now?" So, my friend, Paul, and another friend Jim Hoersch jumped into Cristian's car and drove to visit the Children's Home and see what needs they had. While heading over to the Children's Home the Assistant Pastor told me that support for the Children's Home was hot and cold. 

Sometimes they get support and sometimes no support. With the Pandemic, tourism was way down and the whole town was hurting.

When we arrived at the Children's Home, the first thing that impressed me was that the children were receiving a very good education. There were actually three classes going on and the printing that the kids were doing was unbelievable. I remarked to several of the children how impressed I was.

The head of the Children's Home showed us around and I noticed that there were rooms that needed painting and the Administrator told me that although they had a six burner stove, only one burner worked and although they had two blenders, neither blender worked. 

I asked where a stove could be purchased in town. Cristian mentioned that there was a Sam's Club nearby and they sold gas stoves. A few minutes later we were in Sam's Club and not only was there a six burner stove but also an assortment of blenders. The three of us agreed to purchase the stove and one Oster Blender. 

We asked Cristian if he knew anyone who could pick up the range and get it installed. He said that for $10 he had a person who would take the new range to the Children's Home, remove the old range, and install the new range. 

Before we left the store, Cristian's friend showed up with a truck to pick up the new range. Before the end of the day, we were told that the new stove had been installed and three of the six burners were being used.

The Children's Home only houses between 8 -15 children at a time. Social Services learns about parents with drug, alcohol, and/or abuse issues and they take the children away and place them here.The government believes that children should be with their parents, so after the children are taken away the government provides help to the parents to see if they can stop their addiction and improve their lives. The goal is to get the children back with their parents at home.

I was very impressed with the schooling these children were receiving and the love the staff showed toward them. It was easy to see that they were happy and as a teacher myself, I could see that these kids were getting as good, if not a better education than the children in the local public schools.

I have provided an outline of the work that needs to be done at this Children's Home and the tasks the Shoreline Rotary Club members and the South Everett-Mukilteo Rotary Club members hope to complete while there from January 15-29, 2022. 

Much of the work will be contracted out before we arrive, but there will be hands on experience at the Children's Home. 

At this time I have 12 Rotarians going on this Project with us and I have two additional Rotarians who want to go if I can get two more units reserved for them. I have also provided a picture of the beach and my wife and I next to the beach where we will be staying. I have reserved eight rooms at Hotel Villa Mexicana for the two weeks and I am offering rooms to those who might like to join us. 

My wife and I will be there both weeks and we have friends who will be staying in other accommodations because they have extended family members with them. I believe that the cost for these ocean front units will be about $175 per night. The units are studio units and although there is fairly good Wifi, there is no refrigerator in the units. The food here is great and you will fall in love with the people. It is a very nice fishing village.

We are looking for clubs to join us in this International Service Project as we are trying to raise $28,000-$30,000. If you are interested in attending or your club is interested in partnering with Shoreline Rotary Club, please call me at 206-353-5516 or email me at The Shoreline Rotary Foundation is a 501c3 non-profit organization. Thank you.

Harley D. O'Neil, Jr.
Shoreline Rotary Club Treasurer


suzettefrench August 23, 2021 at 11:18 AM  

I applaud your effort and contributions. But, I can't help but wonder, why travel all the way to Mexico to provide this type of service when there are plenty of opportunities right here in your own community?

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