The Friends of Acapulco first came in contact with the Salvation Army in 1963 through the volunteer work of Alfred and Ray Lawrence. The Salvation Army initially sought our financial support to build a new residential facility for children in Mozimba, located just off the main highway that leads to Pie de la Cuesta.
In 1966, Amigos made an initial donation of $10,000 USD toward the purchase of the new facility for the Salvation Army. In the ensuing years, we have made a series of grants to support the construction of additional dormitories, the renovation of existing facilities and the purchase of equipment.
n the last three years, Amigos has supported a variety of building improvements:
- The installation of a new outdoor courtyard to replace an old patio damaged by an earlier hurricane.
- The installation of new aluminum windows
- The repair of an industrial-size stove
- The repair and painting of a small bus
- The purchase of new beds and the remodeling of closets
- Reimbursement for all medicines purchased by the Home
Besides these items, the Friends of Acapulco also pays the entire bill for medical care for all the children. Every child is seen regularly by Dr. Horacio Orazco Garay, the physician in charge of the Friends of Acapulco Medical Dispensary on Avenida Michoacan.
“The Friends of Acapulco has never turned us down. The Friends has been helping us steadily since we started here. Thanks to your support, we can show our children the good things that life has to offer,” Major Vera said in a thankful letter.
Major Vera said managing the Acapulco Home has been a bigger challenge than other locations where he has worked, because children here are poorer, and lack discipline and basic education. Moreover, the State of Guerrero – one of the poorest areas in Mexico – has less of a tradition of charitable giving than exists in other parts of Mexico, where standards of living are higher.
According to Major Vera, the majority of the children in his care are not, in fact, orphans. But their parents are incapable or unwilling to care for them – often because of medical, psychological or drug problems.
Besides the Major and his wife, the Home operates with just three full-time employees, namely a cook, a driver and a laundry worker. The Home also has a part-time teacher who offers English and Computer instruction. The Home receives no support whatsoever from the Mexican Government.
The Salvation Army has its own local Advisory Board. Amigos works closely with its President, Don Hoglund (Mr. Hoglund also serves on the Board of Directors of the Friends of Acapulco.)
The Salvation Army Advisory Board has been instrumental in raising money – through its Annual Benefit Ball and Padrino program – for the health, education and welfare of children. Using its connections in the local community, the Advisory Board has also arranged for monthly donations of food from prominent business owners.
The Acapulco facility is one of 19 children’s shelters operated by the Salvation Army throughout Mexico. The Salvation Army has had a physical presence here in Acapulco since 1952.
In the Year 2000, the facility was officially renamed the Alfred and Ray Lawrence Children’s Home of the Salvation Army – in recognition for the 40 years of volunteer work performed by Al and Ray in service of the Home.
During our routine inspection, we detected many problems, the main one was the sewage water running on the back of the Home that was causing serious health problems to the 60 children and the staff living there, such as eye, stomach, skin and other serious illnesses.
The Friends asked the local and State authorities to help us solve this serious problem. As the help did not come as needed, we started some works to help solve the situation. We have been working closely with Captain Vera and his wife, who are in charge of the Home.
Another big problem we encountered was the plumbing situation, the pipes were leaking from the bathrooms which also caused health problems. We did the necessary repair works. They lacked water supply so we also bought four water tanks, refurbished the garden area and in February of this year we donated an industrial stove which cost $2,170.00 USD.