Our Work > EducationStudent Sponsorship > Success Stories


To Meet or Not to Meet

November 30, 2018

By Raquel Kellicut.  I was anonymously matched to Teodoro at the Castaway Kids Beach Party in March of 2017 during our first visit to San Carlos. I had always intended to meet him, and with the help of the Castaway Kids staff, it happened!!  I give a BIG thank you to Terry Lynn, and Student Coordinator, Kristian Vizcaino, for your help. My husband, Darwin and I met Teodoro and his mother, Monica, at Rosa's Cantina in February of 2018.  Lydia Chase graciously offered her translation services for the meeting. 


Teodoro and I attended the conversational English classes provided through Adelante Estudiante (photo). We saw each other weekly until the classes ended in March. Teodoro and I also worked the Beach Party that month, and we shared a celebratory departing lunch facilitated by my Spanish teacher/translator, Elizabeth Roa. We have made a firm commitment to work on our language skills, and to stay in contact during the winter. We share our lives via Facebook and What's App, with the help of Google Translate. Teodoro graduated high in his class this year and was excited to enroll at Conalep for this fall. 


Teodoro has frequently said that he feels very special because my husband and I took the time to meet with him and his mom in an effort to get to know them. He was initially worried that we would just disappear. I truly believe that the personal relationship and commitment to him has made a positive difference. The scholarship monies are necessary and extremely helpful, but the improvement in confidence with Teodoro has been noteworthy. He knows we care, and that he has an extended family through the language school. He is on fire to learn, and to rise above what he describes as having been a "hard life." He actually smiles now and is happy and hopeful. We are all excited to reunite this next December.


Home Run

January 01, 2020

By Jeff Woods.  I was asked several weeks ago to write down a response to the question, “ Why do I give to Castaway Kids?”  I reluctantly agreed, but did not put pen to paper.  I thought about it a lot.  It seemed to me that I should be able to easily write down a simple, logical sentence that people would read, nod their heads in approval and agree that I am just a wonderful, caring man.  While I am tempted to write that logical, simple sentence, it would be a deception because the real reason I give to Castaway Kids is because I want things.  Things I didn’t even know existed, but now I want these things more than I had ever imagined possible.  


My wife, Teresa, and I had originally become involved with Castaway Kids by sponsoring a student and Teresa volunteered at the thrift store.  We are both huge advocates of education and the Castaway Kids mission made sense to us.  Our first student was soon distracted by boys and her grades plummeted and she eventually lost her scholarship and we were left looking for another student.  Teresa had more responsibility at Castaway Kids now and was able to locate two children in the same family in San Carlos.  We went to their home to meet them and we were impressed.  The single mother, Liliana,  is smart and respected by her three children.  She is the rock of this very close knit family.  The oldest boy, Jesse, is fifteen with near perfect grades and wants to be an engineer.  The middle child, Silvana,  is a math whiz who placed second in an all of Sonora math competition and practices martial arts with Jesse.  The youngest is Enzio, an athletic, local baseball star with an impish smile that makes me smile.  Their sparsely furnished house had no electricity and little food, actually none that we could see.  They were excited about uniforms and tuition, but said what they really would like was some food.


We now have the good fortune to be friends with this wonderful family.  They come over once a week for dinner and we go to all their demonstrations and games.  We now know the players on the San Carlos baseball team and a good portion of their families.  Silvana helps out at bazaars and bakes cookies in an old discarded toaster oven. She sells these cookies at local events.  Jesse helps me around the boat and he is learning to be a sailor.  I am teaching him to drive in my old pick up truck.  Teresa and Liliana have become close friends and   go to Guaymas on shopping trips and enjoy cooking together.  I am grateful they let me into their lives.  We are all learning each others language and culture, and even though our financial responsibility has gone up, everybody pitches in to make this relationship work.  My rewards exceed my losses. 


Now, here is what I want.  I want Liliana not to have to worry that there may be nothing for her kids to eat that night.  I want Jesse to have his shot at being an engineer.  I want him to have his own house with running water and electricity and a refrigerator with food in it. I want Sylvana to have the skills to grow into an independent adult woman.  I want her to be able to move fluidly in this world.   I want her to know that she has options.  I want Enzio to hit a home run with the bases loaded.  He just needs to get to bat.


So, that’s why I give to Castaway Kids.  It’s all about me and what I want.   

Fond Memories

January 01, 2020

By LeeAnn Wehr: 


I have so many fond memories of gathering students to practice English on Saturday mornings! One morning a young man not in the Castaway Kids program wandered in to the classroom and asked if he might join us as he’d heard about our mentoring program.  Jose Martinez Zanzarric with his charismatic personality, witty intelligence and desire to learn soon found himself in Castaway Kids scholarship program with Phyllis Levine as his sponsor.  He successfully graduated from CBTIS high school and went on to attend the Universidad Autonoma de Baja California (UABC) in Tijuana, as well as, a semester in Monterrey, Mexico. Judy Allwood, Phylis, Terry and I helped Jose graduate with a degree in Megatronic Engineering.  He is now employed by Toyota, working on his practicals, and so grateful to Castaway Kids for the support that allowed him to fulfill his dreams and anticipate an exciting future! 

Jose lived with his parents in Guaymas and a younger sister, Marianne.  His mother has had some health issues which have led Marianne to study Bioengineering at UABC.  This degree can take her into microbiology work or biomedical engineering-which she has chosen. She has dreams of some day even teaching at a hospital.  She’s just completed her 6th semester with a 91.2 average!! This semester she’ll also be taking classes at Tijuana General Hospital. Marianne has a couple more semesters to complete, and hopes to pursue a Master’s Degree in Biomedicine!!! What a pleasure and honor it is for my husband and I to now sponsor this lovely, intelligent, motivated young woman.  


It was a great pleasure and honor to help found the Castaway Kids scholarship/mentoring program with Terry Challis and Diane Wine. And then to mentor dozens of students along their path of learning, growing and moving forward in their lives.  Terry carries on an incredible job as President of Castaway Kids, and lives her passion of helping others…what an amazing woman.  Castaway Kids is so blessed to have her as their leader! Jim and I are now sponsoring our third student in this program, and consider it a life long project for us.  I hope you’ll also consider being involved as a sponsor and/or volunteer in this amazing program. 

Joel Fabian Ruiz Lugo

January 01, 2020

Joel has been in our Adelante Estudiante program since very near the beginning of our program, 2010, when he was attending CBTIS Preparatoria (High School in Guaymas).   Sam and Elizabeth Rainwater have been his sponsors since that time and Joel is now studying engineering at ITSON with a high grade point average.   


Joel lives with his father and mother and has no brothers or sisters.  He attends our free conversational English classes at a private home in San Carlos on Saturdays and his English has really improved.   


He recently came in 2nd in a state-wide competition for Mr/Miss Tourism Sonora.   He also came to our Christmas Carol sing-along, where he received a new laptop from his sponsors.  When asked to write a little something about what Castaway Kids' sponsorship program has meant to him, this is what he wrote:

"It's been another year since I started to be part of CastwayKids. I can't be more thankful with my sponsors for all the support that they've given to me, for trusting in me and help me to move on; to our english teachers for helping us to improve our pronunciation and being patient. I'm so happy to be part of this scholarship that has helped me a lot, for being part of the CastawayKids family. I feel honored for being the (featured) student (this) month.  They say that life is about growing achievements but they don't happen by themselves, many of mine have been possible thanks to all the support that you have given to me. Thanks for helping me and all the students to complete their goals."

Reyna Paola Ruiz Perez

January 01, 2020

By Terry Challis:  Our sponsored student, Reyna Paola Ruiz Perez, recently graduated from the Tourism program at ITSON.   I was lucky enough to first meet this young lady when she was very young, staying during the week while attending school at Hogar Paz y Bien, where I and a group of ladies from San Carlos taught English once a week.  Paola was 7 or 8 years old when I first had her in my class.   Later I found out she was a student in our Adelante Estudiante sponsorship program, about to graduate from High School (Prepa) and about to lose her sponsor.  Her sponsor was getting up there in years and was going to go back to the US so she could take advantage of her health care options there.   My husband agreed immediately with my request to sponsor Paola in University. 


I was her invited guest at a recent recognition ceremony for students who took additional classes after most of their group graduated.  We went to a celebratory supper afterward where she told me she remembered me teaching her songs like Head & Shoulders, Knees & Toes and Wheels on the Bus.  She told me that even thought our once a week classes weren't going to make the kids bilingual, they did serve to get her over the fear of learning another language because we made it fun.   That was music to my ears.   She said she took advantage of every free English class she could attend after that and she speaks pretty good English.   She recently landed a job in administration at FAMSA department store.   She admits it's an entry level position, but she hopes to climb the ladder while she is learning job skills and working with other people. 


It is rewarding when you get to know your sponsored student and their families.  Her mother left her with her grandmother as a baby and she has never been in touch since.   Paola considers her grandmother as her mom and an uncle as her dad.  She lives with them in Fatima and admitted to me that she is afraid because she knows that is a dangerous neighborhood with a lot of drug activity and she doesn't get home until after dark, she has to walk some blocks by herself to get back home. 


With all the obstacles she and her family have faced, we're very proud of her for working hard to keep up her grades, for graduating with very good grades and for finding a job and entering the workplace-- which was a scary time for her.  Our students not only lack economic resources to advance their education, but they lack contacts to help them get good jobs.   We try to help on both counts, but generally, once they graduate, they are on their own.  


You go, girl!

Cristina Cervantes

January 01, 2020

Cristina Cervantes was an excellent student at Vizcaya University in Guaymas.  She graduated the 2015 summer. That same year she got married with her forever boyfriend and had a baby.  She took sometime for her family and then started giving talks to Prepa students about love without violence and teen pregnancy. She was the first psychologist from Vizcaya to give therapy.


January 01, 2020

Consuelo and her sponsors Lindsay and David got together for lunch to celebrate that Consuelo is a graduate now!!!  She graduated in summer with a degree in nutrition. Consuelo has been in the program since 2011 when she was in high school.  She was in excellent student and will be an exceptional professional as well.

Delia Soto

January 03, 2023

Delia is a recent graduate of Castaway Kids.  She was sponsored through chef's school in by the Aboussies and several other contributors.  She is now the head chef at La Conquista, in San Carlos!  Please stop by and enjoy her cooking.

Martin Francisco Grave Berrelleza

February 23, 2023

Sam and Elizabeth Rainwater have sponsored Martin through college and he is now about to graduate the Technical Institute of Sonora with a degree in Mechanical Engineering.  This past summer, to fulfill a professional practicum requirement, Martin gave back to others in need.  He worked with a local company to provide electricity to three communities near Alamos, Sonora.  The villages are too distant from power stations to have electricity.  Martin designed and installed 23 separate solar power installations at a school and private homes.  He chose durable systems that are expected to provide power for 25 years.  This was not only a rewarding project for Martin, but he was able to practice many technical and communication skills that are essential for a professional mechanical engineer.  Congratulations Martin, and thanks Sam and Elizabeth.

Ana Patricia

May 28, 2023

Ben and Paulette got together with their sponsored student Ana Patricia and her family to talk about her grades, plans, and dreams. Ana Patricia had a baby a year ago when she was ending preparatoria and getting ready fro University. Ben and Paulette decided to continue sponsoring her because of her excellent grades.  Now, she is in her third semester (8 in total) studying Industrial Engineering. It has not been easy for her with this new responsibility, but thanks to her family, husband, and sponsors' help she has maintained her excellent average.  Her sponsors are very confident that if her continue to strive she will reach far.

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