By Dorothy Isted
Special to the Valley Echo
What do a retired Air Force Chief Warrant Officer, a nurse, a single mom, Panorama employees and a construction supervisor have in common with retired Alberta farmers and their passion for people in a small Mexican town?
It all started with an idea.
Dianna and Doug Fullerton wanted to learn Spanish so they decided to immerse themselves in Mexico. While there, they met a pastor who introduced them to his community. His very poor community.
One thing led to another and the Fullertons, who annually take a ski vacation in Panorama with their family, spend much of their year in Ensenada, Mexico, helping where they can.
To reduce personal costs, they live in a shipping container while home in Alberta. Often someone donates a trailer or fifth wheel, which the Fullertons take to Mexico, live in while there and then give to a family who needs a home.
Doug said his passion is “the power of the truth of God’s word to change a life.” He has witnessed drug addicts turn their lives around due to their connection with the Ensenada church.
But they also spearhead construction projects: very simple two-roomed homes with no electricity or plumbing (standard for the community) and donate it to a family that also works on the building.
Take Oscar and Alisha for example: a young couple with a child and another one on the way, who both work in a T-shirt factory. They can afford the mortgage on a small plot of land, but nothing else, and so live with Alisha’s mother.
Upon hearing of the Fullertons’ work, nurse Wendy Badley knew she wanted to get involved, so she approached her church to make it happen.
Canadians are groaning about the effects of the American dollar on their economy. So, too, are Mexicans. Costs have risen there about 40 per cent in the past year. But wages, low already, haven’t increased. The cost of a small home is now about $10,000.
Lake Windermere Alliance Church is sponsoring a team of people who will travel to Ensenada in March and construct the couple’s home. While there, they’ll sleep in sleeping bags in the church.
“I’m not a churchgoer, but I’ve always wanted to do something like this,” said Sarah Pasley.
Participants are paying their own way and a portion of the construction costs.
Fundraisers are being planned at the church. A chili and salad supper and silent auction is being held on Friday, January 29th, beginning at 5:45 p.m. Paul Carriere will entertain with jazz piano, along with other entertainment. There will be a bake sale and an antiques auction conducted by Tex Lortscher of High Country Auctions on Saturday, February 13th. Viewing begins at noon with the auction starting at 3 p.m.
One item of interest has already been donated: a dinner plate, once part of a 144-place setting at Casa Loma in Toronto, owned by Lady Pellatt, the Girl Guides of Canada’s first Chief Commissioner, who hosted rallies in her 68-roomed castle.
In 1913, she invited 250 Girl Guides to her home for tea. When she died, she was buried in her Girl Guide uniform.
Individuals, businesses or other groups interested in donating money, time, antiques and items to the silent auction or bake sale can call Wendy at 250-342-4454 or Dorothy at 250-342-3826. Financial donations of $20 or more can be issued a receipt for income tax purposes. If you have bottles to donate, they can be left at Wendy’s home at 122 10th Avenue in Invermere.