Music Makes the People Come Together

Although the song was released in 2000, 80’s pop icon Madonna said it well when she sang the words “Music makes the people come together” – apparently so do animals and the 80’s 😀 The island SAGA Humane Society supporters definitely came together and enjoyed the beloved humane society’s 80’s themed first fundraiser since 2019. The much-needed event was fun-filled and fruitful. It was also a touch neon thanks to those who were willing to dress the part like the group on the right and the SAGA volunteers and Iguana Juan’s Restaurant owner in the left picture below 😀

Madonna also sang the fitting words “We’re gonna have a celebration” and “A way to come together can make things better.” in her popular song – Holiday which was released in 1983. Thanks to Iguana Juan’s Restaurant, her words came true. Not only was there a fun celebration with delicious appetizers and complimentary animal-themed Jello shots, but people came together to make things better for the SAGA Humane Society.

Appetizers: teriyaki meatballs, cucumber with tuna, veggie mini sandwiches, olive and cheese bites, taquerias, and barbecue wings.

Reason to Celebrate

There was a big reason to celebrate, as SAGA secured great prize donations, and a lot of money was raised. Between the raffles, individual donations, and silent auction and handcrafted fish sales, $4900 BZD was raised at the 3 h event.

SAGA Humane Society is very grateful to be able to start raising funds for our needy animals of the island after a long unplanned Covid gap. This will help them keep providing medical care and shelter to animals in need and subsidizing veterinary care to low-income families.

SAGA would like to give a big thank you to everyone who helped make the 80’s fundraiser a huge success.

  • Iguana Juan’s Restaurant & Bar: owner Cris Golden for hosting the event and his fiance Courtney Block for being such a big help in organizing. Iguana Juan’s fast and friendly staff, Manny, Adrian, Austin, Uziel, Shanny, Darron.
  • Volunteers: Jim Allen, Jana Hill, Matt Mulkerin, Katia Marin, Eileen Jamison, Laurie Norton, Sarah Smith, El Colby, and Dj – Alex Betancourt, and Makeup Artist – Yara Mejia.
  • Raffle Prize Donors: Caye to the Heart, Stella’s Sunset, Paint & Splash, Caliente, Aquarius Salon, Gypsy Restaurant, MataChica Resort, Pampered Paws, Truck Stop, Coco Loco Bar, Croc’s Sports Bar, SandBar, 12 Belize, Village Market, Farmhouse Fresh, Travellers Liquors, Ugly Duck, Toast, Captain Rob, Susan & Randy Watts, Wyndham Grand, Duane & Judy Allen, Pet Gift Baskets.
  • Silent Auction donors: Go Fish, DayDreamin’ Bed and Breakfast, Scuba School & Family Dive Center, Chuck & Robbie’s Scuba Diving & instructions, Heaven’s Nail Salon, Retro Perros, Custom Cat House.
  • Thank you to Dan Solo from Reef Radio for giving the fundraiser lots of air time on the Radio.
  • Last but not least, SAGA would like to thank all their supporters who made the event a big success and helped raise almost 5k for Ambergris Caye animals. They couldn’t have done it without you.
saga humane society fundraiser raffle proceeds

It was no surprise that the star 80’s group of the event took the trio of Traveller’s rum for best costumes. Two of them also won a silent auction prize for the cool recycled cattery made and donated to the event by a vacationer from materials found on his beach walks.

It was also no surprise that 4 legged Harry made it to the two legged party in support of his tribe.

 cute small dog saga humane society fundraiser

Lots more raffle prizes were won that day including an animal-themed bag by Caye to the Heart, and a custom gift box by 12 Belize, hopefully, Adrian has a girl to share it with 😉

‘Flash dance’ showing El’s DIY multipurpose fabric fish for SAGA on the left and DJ Betancourt picking out the lucky raffle winners on the right.

Music trivia: No matter how many people have wished it so. Madonna’s 1986 hit song ‘La Isla Bonita’ from her True Blue album was not about our beloved Belize and the island of San Pedro. According to the Rolling Stone “Madonna’s 50 Greatest Songs List”, under song 40, the popular singer never even knew where San Pedro was at the time.

Of course, the DJ knew his stuff and had people smiling and dancing all afternoon as he cranked out fun familiar songs of our youth.

saga humane society fundraiser iguana juan's restaurant

When you are on your vacation, be sure and stop by Iguana Juans for a delicious meal with a downtown view. Their most ordered menu items are burgers, nachos, and tamales. They also feature live music first Saturday of the month on their famous prime rib night which is always sold out – so reserve ahead.

iguana juan's restaurant

Advance Fundraising

A heartfelt thank you to the following individuals and businesses that crowdfund sponsored a 6 month Ad Package for SAGA Humane Society in my new Hand Up program: Judy Allen, Joy Quyle, The Baker, Dalke Design Group, Jana & Matt Hill, and Maureen Schulz-Sowder. It’s because of you that this advance fundraising effort came to life.

Since the fundraiser was about helping SAGA make up for lost donations due to the pandemic, and because our current Covid rules are still restricting the numbers at our island bars, I decided to start an advance effort.

My loose plan was to find a willing friend who had wheels and would just pick a day and see what we could achieve randomly the week before the event. However, there was a day when my anxiety (due to dyslexia) was too strong for me to finish writing an article I was working on. So I switched gears and thought I could be more useful to help SAGA at that moment than myself. I decided to advance my advance and reach out online, stepping out of my shell and turning anxiety into aspirations gone wild. I set a goal of $500 to reduce doubts of reaching it. Within two hours I had raised my goal and in the end, more than doubled my original with a total of $1350 BZD. That bumps the total for the Humane Society fundraiser from $4900 up to $6250.

It felt really good to know I live in a community where people are so approachable and helpful when they can be. It also felt good for the first time ever, to find a silver lining to my anxiety that morning.

Thanks to the following individuals and businesses for their quick responses, and generous cash contributions: Aimee and Kenny Fearnyhough, Al and Dawn Domescik of Keller Williams Belize, Hidden Treasure, Portofino Resort, Mike Seisling, and Sunrise Realty.

More thanks go-to thanks to the following individuals and businesses for making donation commitments in advance: Caye Mart – dog food. Caye Value Store, – laundry soap. CG Esthetic – cat food, Despensa Del Hogar – dog food, Diana Snyder – dog food, Feathers Guest House, and The Lunch Box – laundry soap. Herban Vape – dog and cat food, Travelers Liquors LTD. – rum donation, Pink Store – cat food. Super Buy – laundry soap. Tans Mart – dog food.

Visual Shoutout

If you are looking for an off-the-beaten-path piece of paradise, Al and Dawn of Keller Williams Belize can help you find it, as you can see from the picture below that Al provided, of one of their listings. Casa Esperanza happens to be my friend’s house and I can say from first-hand experience, it is heavenly. It’s 14 miles north with a great beachfront and has a beachin’ bocce court. The well-designed off-the-grid house is located in the Bacalar Chico Marine Reserve and snorkeling at the reef is walkable – incredible. Email to get a first-hand look at your new view. Photo credit: Casa Esperanza.

casa esperanza house in bacalar chico marine reserve

Hidden Treasure is an ambient off-the-beaten-path restaurant southwest of town. Currently, due to curfew still being in effect, they serve dinner from 5:00 pm with last seating at 8:00 pm. Start with some seasonal seafood or beer-battered coconut shrimp followed by almond-crusted grouper, Caribbean curry or chimichurri pork chops. For those with a sweet tooth, there are lots of choices – caye lime pie and Baileys soaked tres leches cake to name a couple.

Reservations can easily be made in advance from their Facebook page for any night but Tuesday, when they are closed. Photo credit: Hidden Treasure.

hidden treasure restaurant at night

Portofino Resort If you want a quiet, tropical oasis for your vacation accommodations then look no further than Portofino Resort. They have a great restaurant on-site with a fantastic view and there is also a separate beach bar and bistro. Perfect for those who don’t feel like venturing too far and want to just kick back and relax in this crazy, busy world. For those who like their vacation social time, at almost 6 miles North, it is still close enough to lots of fun and delicious options. Aerial photo credit: Portofino.

portofino beachfront resort north ambergris caye belize

I would also like to thank Portofino Resort owner Jan for his offer to help with my battery recycling program after noticing it was challenged. The morning of the fundraiser, I dropped off his donation of a new battery recycling container for Castillo’s. I snapped the picture in this spot as a reminder to go browse their ‘hurricane safety ‘ supplies and see what you need for emergency preparedness. They also have a good-sized garden section.

hardware store ambergris caye

Sunrise Realty is a great option to help you find the perfect tropical island getaway as you can see from their listing image below of Stella Di Mare Villa located 3 miles north of town in the Punta Arenas area. If you can picture yourself living this life and are ready to invest in your tropical dreams, email Amanda Syme at and make a plan. This house is also turnkey as a vacation rental and has a live-in caretaker on site. Photo credit: Sunrise website.

belize real estate

Around the Island

I was grateful that Saga volunteers (and Hand Up Sponsors) Jana and Matt were willing to help drive around to pick up already secured donations, hit up new a few new places on our travels, and do drop-offs at SAGA.

We started with our most southern donation, a San Pablo area pick up, 10 containers of Widow Twankey’s environmentally friendly laundry soap made and donated by Feathers and the Lunch Box. When I messaged both business owners they made it easy. Diana ( Feathers Guesthouse owner) originally said 5 and quickly changed her answer to “10 if I can find more 1 gallon containers.” Of course, I jumped to pull out 5 empties and send her a pic to secure the increased amount. Laundry soap is one of the last things people consider that our humane society needs.

Since I used to live in San Pablo years back, I asked if we could make a detour to my old corner store, which turned out not to be there anymore. It was still a fortuitous diversion as Jana and Matt pointed out we still had an alternative and drove down the road to Dispensa Del Hogar, (which was not there when I lived in the area.)

Between those two stops, it was already time for a donation drop-off and we filled a shelf at SAGA with pet food and laundry soap.

Cat and salon owner Carole of CG Esthetic was happy to help feed the Ambergris Caye Animal population. If you are looking to get pampered, stop by for a wide array of services. The salon offers everything from cuts, color, mani-pedis, facials, and more. CG Esthetic’s convenient new location is in the front of the Wings building (just southwest of Tropic Air.) As for the cat on the right, he was looking for some playtime when we were dropping donations at the humane society. If you love kittens put it on your schedule to stop by and enjoy some time with the SAGA kitty crew.

Winding our way through town we stopped and pick up another cat food commitment from Pink Boutique. If you are looking for trendy fashions, girly stuff, and summer swimsuits this is the place for you. Next, we tried our luck at Super Buy for an on-the-spot donation and scored lots more laundry soap.

It was time to steer the effort north and of course, it was no surprise K-Mart was instantly willing to put Matt’s muscles to the test with two big bags of dog food. Around the corner, Tans Mart also chimed in with a nice sack of kibble.

The last stop that day was Caye Value Mart who donated a big bag of laundry detergent. I was very grateful that Jana and Matt were able to take the rest of the supplies to SAGA that afternoon or so I thought. When I got home, there was another bag waiting for me by my famous 90 Day Fiance hula hoops from Diana Snyder. Thankfully they were willing to pick me up along with the big bag of Mini Chunk before the last fundraiser meeting.

Donations galore and a smiling volunteer, past president, and co-founder of SAGA in 1998, Eileen Jameson.

inside iguana juan's restaurant

On the morning of our meeting, we hit Travelers Liquors LTD and picked up a nice boxed rum donation. Be sure and stop by their Middle Street store for a tasting and some souvenir spirits. After the meeting, I popped over to Herban Vape who had also committed to donating, and picked up 3 big bags of cat and dog food which I promptly dropped off to SAGA volunteer Kathy at her business Pampered Paws.

Thus ends the story of our generous community, event coverage, and advanced tacogirl Hand Up fundraising effort for SAGA Humane Society. Both the 4 leggeds and the humans are filled with appreciation and feel very blessed by the kindness of the community. Please click through to learn more about SAGA Humane Society on their sponsored Hand Up page.

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