This year's winner of the Doug Marshall Community Service Award is Doug Groppenbacher. Doug works in the commercial real estate field in Chandler, Arizona and his vacation home is in Miramar. Doug has been “Santa Claus” for charitable groups in this area for many years, lining up donated items and purchasing items needed for different charities in San Carlos and Guaymas. He attends auctions, estate sales, sale days at different thrift shops-- always on the lookout for medical equipment, wheel chairs, walkers, bicycles, softball equipment, household items, etc. which have been requested by Casa Franciscana, Club Jerry, and different orphanages and shelters in our area. He stores them in his Arizona house until his next trip to his Miramar home, then he takes several days to carefully pack his truck and trailer full, not leaving the smallest space unfilled. Before he crosses the border, he gives his list to Customs and pays the duty-- all out of his own pocket.
Just as an example, about 7 years ago he was able to procure a donation of softball equipment, including bases, bats, gloves and uniforms. He got to the border and they made him unpack his load, then they said he couldn't bring the uniforms (counts as used clothing)-- everything else was ok. He went back to Nogales, Arizona and left the uniforms with a realtor friend of his who has a house in San Carlos and continued south. His realtor friend eventually got all the uniforms down here, in suitcases, and some of our Castaway Kids volunteers were able to make a gift of the equipment to a special olympics style softball program called Acceptame Como Soy (accept me as I am). These kids are still making use of this equipment.
He recently came across a large amount of special surgical instruments, which he brought to Casa Franciscana on his last trip. Brother Gerard has distributed these instruments to doctors in small villages a bit south of us and he said the doctors were so thrilled to have them. They told him that they hadn't worked with this quality of instrument since their intern days.
Doug's motto is “Money is the power to serve,” and he certainly puts his money to use serving so many of the less fortunate folks in our area of Sonora. As we all know, it's not just the money, but the time and effort and the hassle at the border that is a huge factor in his getting these needed items down here. Doug was not able to get down for the Beach Party, but we hope to be able to present him his Award in a public event on his next trip down.
Castaway Kids has their own, in-house award which we refer to as the “Golden Starfish Award”. At this year's Beach Party, this award was given to the volunteers at our Thrift Shop for all their efforts and talents that make our shop such a success. Just a small thank you token to acknowledge their hard work. The shop's funds help to sponsor several students and serves as a backup fund for special needs or if a student loses a sponsor for any reason, as well as other emergency and special project needs.
Gary Anderson, a member of our local cruisisng community, was the winner of our 50/50 raffle, winning $8,000 pesos. Gary generously donated $3,000 of that back to Castaway Kids-- thank you, Gary.
A special tribute was made to a volunteer who passed away so suddenly, Judy Lanctot. Judy was one of the ladies who taught sewing to the ladies from the Tipton Center, she helped them market the items and she was also a thrift shop volunteer. She was such a force of nature, so energetic and enthusiastic, it is still difficult to believe she's gone. We miss you, Judy.
A huge thank you to our community for showing up in support and celebration of Castaway Kids, to the musicians, our hard-working volunteers, and the many businesses who donated items for our silent auction. San Carlos Rocks!