San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Organizations Offer Many Chances to Lend a Hand

LIVING in Flamingo or Potrero is notonly a whirlwind of beaches and fine dining.For those who live here and have timeto look beyond the tourist sheen, plenty ofopportunities exist to take an active role ingroups that work tirelessly for the bettermentof the community.“The further an institution is from SanJosé, the less funding it receives,” explainsMelissa Chellemi who is active in theFriends of the Potrero School (654-4150)organization. Since 1999, the group hasworked closely with the board of the localelementary school in the village of Potreroto determine its necessities. (They aremany, Chellemi says.) The organizationhas purchased books for the library, as wellas four new computers and fluorescentlighting for the building.The Great Ideas Women’s Group’s(654-4867) fundraising proceeds go to multiplecauses, according to Elizabeth Watson,who spearheads the organization. Much ofits work benefits the Potrero School, withfour students receiving scholarships to continuetheir education at the high-schoollevel. The group also finances the purchaseof school uniforms for students in need, andhas outfitted its soccer team with spiffy uniforms.Periodic clinics for neutering animalshave also received funds, as has theorphanage in nearby Santa Cruz.The five-year-old group meets the secondThursday of each month, and presentlycounts about 20 members. “It also presentsa chance for us to get together and toget to know each other,” Watson says.Members come from both Flamingo andPotrero. Longtime resident Jo Mega, also amember, says that, as one added benefit,the organization has helped bring the twoexpatriate communities closer together.The non-denominational Beach CommunityChurch (654-4551), less than twoyears old, has become a focal point ofdevotion for the community, but doesmuch more, according to member JimColwell. Members also work with thePotrero School, donating labor and materialsto provide much needed buildingimprovements. The church has also set upfood and clothing banks, and works closelywith the Salvation Army’s Meals forKids program.Church services take place at 10 a.m.each Sunday at the area’s branch of theCountry Day School.An offshoot of the Women’s Club ofCosta Rica even got established in this partof the country, but was renamed theFriends of the Villarreal School (653-0270) when men began asking to join thegroup, according to member Suzy Lawson.Though the organization is based in nearbyTamarindo, several Flamingo and Potreroresidents belong.Like the Potrero School organization,this group works closely with those incharge of the Villarreal School, about 5 kmeast of Tamarindo, to determine needs. Itraised $8,000 for the school at its annualValentine’s Day “Have a Heart” fundraiserheld this year at Hacienda Pinilla.

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