Cruz Roja of Chapala raised $320,000 pesos at LCS concert Wednesday
Lupita Jimenez entertains the sold-out crowd.
Patrick O’Heffernan Ajijic (JAL) The sold-out Wednesday afternoon concert starred Lupita Jimenez, Roy Cruz and SAGREY and featured awards, door prizes, opportunities to underwrite a Cruz Roja table at LCS, plus free-flowing alcohol and appetizers. But the real star was Cruz Roja.
Produced by LCS-Board Chair Steve Balfour – who celebrated his birthday at the concert – the event was classily designed with white tablecloth seating, waiters serving delicious appetizers and tequila and a program packed with talent and events. But the focus was on rebuilding Cruz Roja, financially hurt by the Covid crises that prevented its fundraising events, helping it build a badly-needed new facility to treat patients. The LCS concert kicked off a new fundraising campaign for Cruz Roja, netting $320,000 pesos.
Yolanda Martinez address Mexicans and Expats, thanking them for their support
Sponsors included Jose Cuervo, Semanario Laguna, Pancho’s Deli Market, and Ray Domenech of Casa Domenech and Angelica’s restaurant. The audience was both Mexican and Expat and the language from the stage was both English and Spanish so everyone felt at home.
The concert opened with Ajijic’s Mexican folkloric troupe performing traditional dances in colorful costumes as cameras clicked and whirred. Next, local Mexican singer Lupita Jimenez, a long-time friend and supporter of Cruz Roja, was introduced and let loose with classic Mexican songs and a few American Standards, and got the crowd singing with her – Expats and Mexicans together in Spanish.
As the applause died down, Yolanda Martinez, President of Cruz Roja Chapala, mounted the stage, almost dwarfed by the huge red cross podium. She thanked the packed crowd for their generosity and then welcomed the National Cruz Roja Vice President and translated his address. The architects for the new facility then walked the audience through the design process, and urged them to look at the plans for the new Cruz Roja medical facility arrayed around the Lawn on easels.
Roy Cruz brings the Freddie Mercury story to LCS
Freddie Mercury imitator Roy Cruz, put on a preview of his coming July 25 performance at LCS, singing Queen’s classics, moving around the crowd, urging them to join him in song and even welcoming a super Queen fan who had traveled here to see him. The local band SAGUEY, fronted by blues/jazz singer Barbara Saguey, kept the crowd dancing until well past closing time.
The music was broken up, however, with a door prize drawing for prime bottles of tequila, an opportunity for people to get together to pledge $40,000 pesos for a new LCS table for Cruz Roja (they did), and a birthday cake for LCS-Board Chair Steve Balfour.
The concert was a one-time event to launch Cruz Roja’s fundraising season, but the need to support Cruz Roja is ongoing. With a monthly budget of $300,000, Cruz Roja ‘s ambulances and food and health services serve everyone but are a lifeline to the poor in Lakeside because it charges no fees for its services, relying on donations for its operations and to build a fund to construct a new facility.
Donations of any amount can be made by dropping them off at Yoly’s Unisex Styling Salon, next to El Torito market in Ajijic or at the Cruz Roja Chapala headquarters in Chapala next to Christina Park.
“Real Theater” returns to Lakeside Little Theater with Quarantine for Two, opening March 25
Poster for Quarantine for Two.
Patrick O’Heffernan, English Editor. After being off the stage for an entire season, Lakeside Little Theater will present a fully realized play – actors, costumes, stage, props – all in a socially distanced, Covid-19 safe, specially-built outdoor theater on the Angel Terrace.
Appropriately entitled Quarantine for Two, the play written by Hy Conrad who has generously allowed LLT to produce it, will feature three actors live onstage, six live by Zoom, and three projected onto a screen. The stage will be specially constructed under the awning on the Angel Terrace with the audience seated outside in socially distanced chairs and mandatory masks.
The dark comedy speaks to our times. After months of quarantine, the recently retired Oscar Ebersol and his wife Ruth are driving one another nuts and are ready to kill each other. A chance encounter with a stranger turns their world upside down and someone is likely to end up dead!
On stage will be Peter King as Oscar, Monnie King as Ruth, and Brian Fuqua as Marty the disruptive stranger. On screen will be Johanna Labadie and Gabriel Casillas and the Zoom party will feature Donna Burroughs, Randy Warren, Araceli Kopiloff, Brian Mattes, Carlos Rodriquez, and JeanMarie Harmon.
Quarantine for Two will run from March 25 through April 2, with no show on March 29. All productions will begin at 7:30 pm except for Saturday and Sunday, March 27 and 28, when curtain will be at 4 pm.
LCS Annual General Meeting. “We almost closed, but we are stronger now”
Lake Chapala Society 2020 budget projection showing a project loss of over $221,000 pesos. The actual deficit was over $300,000 pesos.
Patrick O’Heffernan, Ajijic. “We almost closed,” LCS Board President Stephen Balfour told the LCS Annual General Meeting Tuesday, reporting to the members gathered online that “during June and September we were at a high risk of closing – we were looking at being $1.3 million pesos below budget at the end of the year. We were exploring selling the Wilkes Center, laying off our staff, and even closing and selling the campus – we faced the possibility of closing for good.”
But the members and donors of LCS came through with a jaw dropping $2.3 million pesos in donations– fr more than its projected donations budget – which not only staved off the end of LCS, but to enabled it to emerge stronger and ready to raise funds to move ahead with is new LCS 2.0 growth plan.
“We have emerged from 2020 stronger – we are prepared not only to do things right, but to do the right things,” new Executive Director Luis Pacheco told the Zoom audience of over 150 people.
Tuesday’s Annual General Meeting was Pacheco’s first Annual General Meeting (AGM ) and it was a trial by fire for the new ED, as he took over the reins after the worst year in the organization’s history. In 2020 LCS lost over 1000 members, had to close the campus to meet Covid guidelines, postponed all of its expansion programs, lost its important trip and program revenue, and ended the year with an deficit of over $300,000MX. But LCS survived and Pacheco is determined that it will grow and prosper – with continuing help from members and donors.
“What we can do now is live within our hope,” LCS’s first Mexican ED told the members, as he laid out plans for improving and modernizing LCS, and expanding its engagement and collaboration with the Lakeside Mexican community.
Members received a report from Treasurer Timothy Boardman showing the pace of donations and the deficit from last year, a report from Education Director Alfredo Perez describing new Spanish language classes and Personal Enrichment classes including an upcoming program on how government works in Mexico, LCS’s support for 40 Mexican students, and LCS volunteer work with local schools . Development Director Diana Ayala explained the LCS emails about the pandemic, the upcoming 2021 Directory, and the project to improve the LCS computer system with help from the Instituto Technologico Superior de Chapala.
The staff and board laid out the highlights of LCS 2.0, its 10-yer plan for growth and development, previously approved by the Board but put on hold. LCS 2.0 has 42 goals in 5 categories and is led by the twin drives to improve and grow the organization’s programs and resources for members and dramatically increase engagement and cooperation with the Mexican community of Lakeside. Part of the plan is a capital campaign that seeks donors of any amount, but especially those who can give $40,000 pesos during the campaign, and an effort to rebuild membership, including its nascent Lapsed Member Program that calls former members to encourage them to rejoin even if they are not in Lakeside at present.
The AGM, usually a somewhat routine program that draws mostly highly dedicated members, was stocked with surprises, vital information, and new initiatives. Among the new announcements was the incorporation of Open Circle – formally a separate organization – into LCS with live meetings in July, the announcement of a new Master Marketing Council, the re-election of the Treasurer and five at-large Board members, information about the Concerts in the Park program with a hint of plans for music into September, the establishment of a Mexican Advisory Council, and a small increase in membership fees.
LAKE CHAPALA Concert brings popular Mexican singer to Ajijic: more coming up
Enrique de Allende finishes the Concert in the Park with “You Raise Me Up” while LCS Board President watches from the side.
Patrick O’Heffernan, English Editor. A nearly full house greeted Enrique de Allende and his piano accompanist last Saturday as he strolled onstage, flashed a 1000-watt smile and greeted the audience with a bit of his personal story delivered in the signature smooth golden voice before kicking off over an hour of music.
He gave the audience thirteen songs, mostly golden age covers, but some Spanish songs and Spanish versions of American classics, interspersed with conversations, shout outs to his girlfriend at one of the tables and expressions of gratitude to LCS for allowing him to sing in front of an audience – a treat he has been missing due to Covid.
Beginning with a classical love song in Spanish, his operatic tenor filled the lawn and the gazebo. He wrapped up the concert with the 2001 Secret Garden song “You Raise Me Up” in English and was brought back for an encore, the Spanish “Ver A Mi”. Early in the concert he took off his jacket in a concession to the heat, revealing the muscular body that carried him through an Olympic-level soccer career before he turned to music. The entire performance was livestreamed on the Facebook pages of both Semanario Laguna and Lake Chapala Society.
Enrique de Allende kicks off the Concert in the Park with a Spanish love song
Some audience embers interviewed by Laguna did not know who he was before LCS promoted the performance, but signed up for the concert because they, like Enrique, craved live music and looked forward to a sunny afternoon with friends and drinks and food from Angelica’s. Audience comments to Laguna afterward were along the lines of “a gorgeous voice from a gorgeous man singing songs we know and love – bring him back!”
Next week LCS is bringing back Kim Kuzma and her band, a frequent visitor to Ajijic. Voted Canada’s Best Independent Artist by fans at canadian-music.com and five-time West Coast Music Award nominee, winning ‘ Best Independent Recording’, Kuzma is an international singing sensation whose music and sassy stage conversations with audience members makes her performances at LCS a golden ticket sellout. Tickets will be limited to 100 seats for each performance, advanced purchase only. No tickets sold at the gate. VIP tickets (50 seats, features prime location with table): $500 MXN General Admission tickets (50 seats arranged in rows) are priced at $350 pesos. There will be 2 performances, 2pm and 4:30 pm.
The Concerts in the Park Series is not only a welcome diversion for Ajijic residents but, given the fall off in membership this year at LCS due to the pandemic and many members not being able to come to Ajijic from Canada, the income is important to LCS.
Lake Chapala Society Concert series brings in talent, money
Spencer Day and Effie Passero at LCS Concert in the Park.
Patrick O’Heffernan, Ajijic. A full house – or lawn – greeted Spencer Day, Effie Passero and Zoe Wood as they made their way to the outdoor stage on the LCS lawn last weekend. They returned the love with favorites like the Beatles “Come Together”, and the Mexican classic “La Llorna” plus a slew of applause-generating originals like “Movie of Your Life” And “My Prometheus”.
The packed chairs’ and tables were in response to the popularity and fame of the leads; Spencer Day is a Billboard #1 modern jazz singer and songwriter best known for his hit jazz single «Till You Come to Me» as well as appearing on the CBS television network show Star Search . Effie Passero was an American Idol star. Originally trained in opera, she is well known in the US and Puerto Vallarta for her powerful vocals and joyful stage presence. Zoe Wood is an in-demand singer/guitarist/composer Puerto Vallarta music scene.
The musicians performed two shows, keeping their energy up at a high level, receiving standing ovations at the end of each set, and staying after each show to chat with LCS members. The concert was held on the grass and in the gazebo with all audience members socially distanced and masked (except when drinking and eating the snacks and dinners provided by Chef Ray Domenech from Angelica’s Café at LCS.
Strolling the grounds during both concerts was Luis Pacheco, new LCS Executive Director, beaming because he not only loved the music, but he loved to see the full VIP tables and gazebo audience.
“Yes, we are making money on the concerts: after expenses and paying the artists we will raise funds for LCS,” he told Laguna. Given the fall off in membership this year at LCS due to the pandemic and many members not being able to come to Ajijic from Canada, the income is highly welcome, as is the music.
The series will continue Saturday March 28 with Kim Kuzman band, a favorite of the Lakeside LCS community. LCS will produce 2 performances, 2pm and 4:30 pm. Tickets will be limited to 100 seats for each performance, advanced purchase only. No tickets sold at the gate. VIP tickets (50 seats, features prime location with table): $500 MXN General Admission tickets (50 seats arranged in rows) are priced at $350 pesos.
Con altas y bajas, Children Art Program sigue forjando artistas en la Ribera
En la actualidad, alrededor de 40 niños acuden al Programa de Arte para Niños del Lake Chapala Society.
Redacción (Ajijic, Jal).- Con altas y bajas el taller de Arte para Niños de Lake Chapala Society (LCS), fundado hace 68 años por la fallecida Neil James, ha logrado subsistir y dar fe del nacimiento de reconocidos artistas locales.
Sin embargo, durante los últimos meses, la asistencia de niños se ha visto mermada debido a que muchos acuden al catecismo en el mismo horario, lo que les impide llegar al taller artistico.
“Nuestro número de estudiantes ha bajado, porque muchos de los niños quieren venir a la clase pero tienen que ir a prepararse a la Primera Comunión”, aseguró el maestro Javier Zaragoza, quien fue de la primera generación de alumnos y hoy tiene 20 años impartiendo clase en el programa. “Pero de todas maneras, no deja de haber artistas”, remató el entrevistado.
El taller de arte ha sido tan importante para la comunidad de Ajijic, que -a la fecha- el artista plástico estima que más del 90 por ciento de los talentos en la ribera han salido de dicho programa.
Artistas voluntarios y alumnos del Programa de Arte para Niños.
Javier Zaragoza añadió que, a pesar de que no todos los niños serán artistas cuando salen del taller, los conocimientos adquiridos les servirá en su formación académica, ya sea para estudiar una licenciatura, una ingeniería o un oficio, por lo que invita a toda la juventud a asistir cada sábado.
En la actualidad, el programa recibe a alrededor de 40 alumnos de manera gratuita y regular (anteriormente, recibía hasta 120 alumnos), todos los sábados, de los cuales la mayoría son de Ajijic, mientras el resto provienen de San Antonio, Chapala y San Juan Cosalá.
Los instructores, que apoyan al programa como voluntarios, afirman que muchos de los estudiantes al ver a artistas como Jesús y Antonio López Vega, Javier Ramos, Efrén González, se dan cuenta que sí se puede vivir del arte.
Para finalizar, Danielle Page, quien ha estado al frente del programa durante 10 años, explicó que el mismo es atractivo para los niños, porque la clase y todos los materiales que utilizan son gratis -como lápices, crayones, acuarelas, acrílicos, óleos, entre otros-.
Desde hace 68 años, el Programa de Arte para Niños de Lake Chapala Society ha forjado grandes talentos, quienes gracias a su fundadora Neil James, han generado un mercado para el arte en la delegación.
Page recordó, que se han llegado a contar hasta con 140 estudiantes durante los cursos de verano, que se imparten durante la última semana del mes de julio.
Es por ello que Danielle extiende la invitación a todas las familias de la ribera para que lleven a sus niños de manera gratuita al programa de arte, los días sábado de 10:00 de la mañana a 12:00 de la tarde.
Lake Chapala Society (donde se imparte el taller de arte) tiene su dirección en calle 16 de septiembre, en la zona centro de Ajijic.
Lake Chapala Society Fiesta celebrates Ajijic’s Mexican Heart
Photo: Patrick O’Heffernan
Patrick O’Heffernan (Ajijic,Jal). Mistress of Ceremony Paola de Watlerlot presided over the Traditional Fiesta Mexicana at Ajijic’s Lake Chapala Society Friday, September 6, featuring Mariachi Los Cardenales, a children’s Ballet Folklórico from the La Escuela Marcos Castellanos, charro lasso tricks, and a stick horse escaramuza. The contestants for this year’s Queen of Ajijic were introduced and chatted with people and posed for selfies.
Photo: Patrick O’Heffernan
Every chair and table was filled long before the event began at 2:30 pm with a main stage welcome by Paola, who serves on the Lake Chapala Society Recycling Committee – a sponsor and the theme of the event. Expats joined friends and family of the many Mexican performers for homemade tacos and beer during the four-hour program that showed off some of Ajijic’s best Mexican performers.
Photo: Patrick O’Heffernan
At one point the audience moved from the mainstage area to the great lawn for the performance by the stick horse riders from the Escaramuza Pedagógica Caballitos de Palo Las Pohanquitos de Axixic, led by Erika Navarro Robledo, demonstrating the skirmishing and dancing skills that have qualified them for the Circuito National de Caballitos de Palo later this year. A demonstration of precision Charro riding skills with two horses followed to the delight of the crowd and a forest of cellphones and cameras.
Photo: Patrick O’Heffernan
The sold-out event is part of the Annual Giving Season which runs through December 31 to raise funds for its over 100 programs that assist expats in Lakeside, as well as support activities with the Lakeside Mexican community. The Lake Chapala Society is located at 16 de septiembre #16-A Ajijic, Jalisco.
Photo: Patrick O’Heffernan