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San Pedro Belize at Risk Populations and Food Drive
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San Pedro Belize at Risk Populations and Food Drive

Back in March, we had a visit from Florida Association for Volunteer Action in the Caribbean and the Americas in collaboration with Florida State University Emergency Management and Homeland Security or Favaca as Shirlee and I have come to call their group. At the time I wanted to invite the press to come out but understood that the group did not want to make San Mateo residents feel uncomfortable or have a big fan fair and just get to know the residents and ask if they would be open to help by way of an assessment study of their area that can be used to possibly help in getting future grants. Shirlee and I are grateful that Belize Red Cross sent this group our way and very much enjoyed meeting Demian (who wrote the press release below), Audrey, Tanya and Jarrett. They are all genuinely nice people who want to help and have our best interest at heart. We cannot wait to meet the rest of their group of 16 volunteer vacationers later this week and help with the aerial and land San Mateo assessments.

San Pedro, Belize to Benefit From Study of At-Risk Populations

The San Pedro neighborhood of San Mateo on Ambergris Caye, Belize has been identified as at risk by the Belize Red Cross Society. Flooding caused by tropical storms and hurricanes coupled with insufficient water and electric infrastructure has resulted in increased risk of fire and spread of disease.  Belize Red Cross Director General, Lily Bowman suggested the area as the focus of a June 13-21, 2015 survey and research project, being made possible by Florida State University Emergency Management and Homeland Security Program (FSU EMHS).

FSU EMHS in partnership with the local Red Cross Society is seeking to measure the water and sanitation situation of the San Mateo community and to assess storm vulnerabilities.  The research project will include a site survey of the San Pedro neighborhood.  The FSU team, which includes six researchers/graduate students plus faculty and staff, will travel June 13-21, 2015 to provide research survey technical assistance.

In March 2015 the FSU Emergency Management & Homeland Security Program (FSU EMHS) and the Florida Association for Volunteer Action in the Caribbean and the Americas (FAVACA) held meetings with the San Pedro Belize Red Cross Branch Coordinator, Shirlee Arnould and Red Cross Volunteer Laurie Norton, among others to discuss emergency management needs and to explore technical assistance.  FAVACA helps facilitate projects that are demand driven; resulting from needs identified locally and defined in collaboration with partners and community members.

FAVACA is a non-profit international development agency that provides short-term training and technical assistance throughout Latin America and has completed more than 175 trainings in Belize since 1988. Projects have included emergency management, institutional strengthening, elder affairs, pork and poultry production, and agriculture.  Technical assistance is provided at no cost to our overseas partners and traditionally has been supported by the State of Florida, US Federal contracts and grants, private foundations, and individual donations.
For more information please contact: Demian Pasquarelli, 850 445 7283 or  demian@favaca.org

What a day it was. The Press release first – with sending the info above and the info below out to over 50 news agencies and now finally my turn to blog it. Still hopeful get a rest in before going to our welcome dinner at Casa Picasso for our San Pedro Red Cross volunteer vacation group of 11 that arrived today – I am beyond ready for a good meal.

The following write up underneath the food drive pictures was a joint effort between Sue Barkhouse, Shirlee Arnould and myself. We were all active in the drive and both Sue and I attended the Sperro welcome dinner at Sandbar Hostel where they were staying.

Sperro is a non-profit organization from Toronto with a great bunch of 26 people ages 18 – 35 who share a desire to travel serve communities abroad. They had already planned to volunteer a week in Orange walk when their group Leader Greg found my blog tacogirl.com and wrote me to say they were coming for 3 days and wanted to know if there was anything they could do to help San Pedro Belize Red Cross. Of course, I said yes instantly. I would find them a one-time deal. My first thought for a short-term project was to contact the San Pedro Food Bank. They were all in as was Saga Humane Society when we decided to include them too. Sometimes your best cavalry comes from other teams because they are in the same boat and know how much we all need help and resources to do our work 🙂 We could not have done so well without them. This was the largest San Pedro food drive to date with over 50 volunteers at 13 locations throughout town.

One of the functions of the Belize Red Cross is to feed the hungry, and they do weekly soup kitchens in Belize City. Our San Pedro Branch was excited to find out that a food bank was in place on Ambergris Caye as we currently do not have the manpower and resources (such as a large building) to fulfill this need.

The San Pedro Foodbank, started by a group of community members in 2014, exists to help feed struggling families on the island. To be a recipient of the food bank, families consist of at least one working parent with children. These families (many are single mothers) make an average income of $75 -$100  BZD per week. Their expenses include utilities and school costs. When you do the math that does not leave much left over for groceries. Currently the food bank supports 22 families (approximately 120 people) with a waiting list of 40 families (approximately 200 people). The San Pedro Food Bank was very appreciative that the San Pedro Belize Red Cross reached out to work together and help benefit those that need it most.

Feeding the hungry also means feeding our island animals as well, so it was a natural decision to include Saga Humane Society, the islands only non-profit full-service veterinary clinic. Founded in 1999 SAGA Humane Society serves to improve the general health and well being of the domestic and wild animals of the island. As stated by Dawn of the Saga Humane Society “Community means all of us and that includes our animals. A community is often judged by how it cares for those in need and Saga Humane Society is committed to the entire community of San Pedro. We are thankful to the San Pedro Food Bank and the San Pedro Red Cross for allowing us to be a part of the community food drive and for their generosity in donating all Pedigree dog and cat food that was collected to our Fort Dog Shelter.”

The Saturday June 6th, 2015 food drive was made up of volunteers in groups of 4 accepting cash and food donations from the community throughout the town of San Pedro at the following locations: Super Buy, Rocks, Paradise Market, Reef Radio and TV, Almaza, Caye Mart, Richies, Marks, Island City, Super Buy South, Marinas, and Mermaid Store.

The success of the event surpassed any and all expectations resulting in a grand total of $3600 and enough food to feed the participating families for 3 weeks, and many animals. San Pedro Food Bank, Sperro, Saga Humane Society and San Pedro Belize Red Cross demonstrated teamwork at it finest.

None of this could have been done without the support of our many contributors. We would like to give a big thank you to the following: Ultimate Cart Rentals and Ocean Breeze Cart Rentals.

Please continue to support the San Pedro Food Bank by making food donations anytime at Caye Mart and both Super Buy locations. Cash donations can be made at Sandbar Hostel or contact Brittney at brittney@sanpedrohostel.com.

If you would like more info on San Pedro Belize Red Cross, contact info.brcsp@gmail.com, Saga Humane Society contact sagahumanesociety.org, on Sperro contact greg@sperro.org

san pedro belize

At Caye Mart with a kick off donation from my mom, stepdad and SPBRC volunteer Aimee. Picture by Kendall Beymer of Ecologic Divers

belize information

Donation containers for the food drive. Super pleased we surpassed the goal I set of $2000

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