What a moment to recognize:
Even though we (Todd and Colette Svanoe) haven’t met many of you, you feel like extended family. So we’ll share more personally about our treasured January visit. Dad/Ren is stable, though with powers diminished after he collapsed twice with heart episodes, revived by our courageous stepmom Petra, and received a pacemaker on March 19, 2021. So we counted the blessing of every day!
Then came the most unexpected moment of all, meeting and becoming fast friends with Nancy, Canyon Scholars’ new Executive Director. We’ve prayed with Dad for a successor for years, but honestly wondered if the program would continue.
Yet we were awed to tears by Nancy’s passion for this student mission, by her professional skills, near-perfect English, and that her great-grandmother was a Tarahumara!
Nancy’s interned with Dad for a year, but said, in essence: “I can’t do this alone,” and we said, “Neither can we!” With Todd’s background as a communications specialist and a nonprofit consultant, and Colette’s financial and administrative skills, we were in. More on p.3.
Some of you know that Dad almost lost his life on a canoe trip in the Boundary Waters where he heard a call from God, while stranded on a rock for 8 days, and promised to spend his retirement years serving the remote Tarahumara youth of Mexico’s Copper Canyon.
We think he’s kept his promise, but only thanks to 130 of you who helped create a pipeline of compassion from neighbors to the north! To date:
We celebrate with sponsor Mary Murray the graduation of Alberta Benitez Diaz, 28, as a nurse from the University of Nayarit in Tepic (see the southern state in yellow). Ablerta is passionate about providing medical attention, and eventually electricity, jobs, and better schools to her home community. Ironically, her lack of bus money hurt her grades, until she got her scholarship. Alberta is a gem, who learned from her mother to be respectful, honest, and to work hard for the needy. She plays volleyball on an indigenous women’s team, and starts each day with prayer. She thanks Mary for her compassion, this link to a lifetime of service!
Here’s another guy who doesn’t know how to retire, bent with back pain because of thousands of fruit trees he’s planted across the land, a gift that will keep on giving! And don’t judge him. This is how 70- somethings take selfies. Plus, he deserves the spotlight. And so does Rosario, our main link all these years dispensing scholarship money across the dangerous Sierra Madre.
Thanks to this dynamic duo, our point persons to the indigenous world, Canyon Scholars has earned the trust of the peaceful Tarahumara Indians for over two decades, while they’ve developed a network of 6 (soon to be 8) coordinators to hand-deliver scholarships (now transitioning to electronic transfers!).
But that’s not all! Mariano toted bags of concrete mix on his back for miles into the Canyon, building our indigenous friends rain reservoirs for cattle and gardens that would have died during a typical 270 straight days of drought! Dad trained dozens of Garden Club families in Anahuac, while Mariano did so in 40 Tarahumara villages, teaching successful desert-planting methods that made them seem like miracle workers! Then, too, our Lander, Wyoming Rotary sponsors built a library and outdoor courts, starting basketball, volleyball and soccer tournaments in the region. WE LOVE YOU GUYS!
(Read Full Story!)
Director of Student Relations – Mexico
Our Exec. Director is a former English teacher with a bachelor’s in psychology who has worked with the Tarahumara and been a high school principal. Her husband and 8- year-old son are both named Jesus, so we’re pretty sure we have the right person!
Director of U.S. Donor Relations
Todd’s a chip off the old block as a nonprofit consultant and communications specialist. He is passionate about using organizational “best practices,” about volunteer recruitment, donor promises, and returns on investment.
As a teacher, Colette has a natural passion for education and developing children. “As a sponsor, I’m inspired by stories of our educated Scholars building new lives. I bring 17 years of small business experience to help keep C.S. running smoothly.”
Treasurer Tom stepped up to this key position with his accounting expertise when we lost co-founding board liaison Jack Westman. Taxes and spreadsheets are right up his alley. “I’m grateful to God for this opportunity to serve. Maybe for 3 more years, but I bow to His timing!”
We are elated that Rosario, as our former scholarships coordinator and outreach consultant, continues to bless us with her boundless energy, keeping us sane and organized as our ongoing advisor and relational link to the Sierra Madre.
If your heart races with optimism, like a Tarahumura runner, reading about the wonderful work described above, we ask you to join us in one of 5 ways, with…
Our network of donors understandably slipped from 55 to 35 during Covid and the uncertainties of Dad’s health. It’s time to rebuild!
Annual Scholarship Options:
$250 Middle School
$500 High School
To 15 donors who support 74 of our current 98 students