Mitch and Vicki Schilling’s dream to create a library and community center in the town of Lo de Marcos, Nayarit, Mexico was born about a year ago. With high season coming to an end, and lots of free time on his hands, Mitch began actively searching for a location. He signed a 3-year lease on May 5th, and he and his team immediately began transforming the vacant building.
They have received an outpouring of community support and volunteers are stepping forward. Williams, a local electrician and plumber, has begun working on the electrical upgrades for a reduced fee; Pedro has volunteered to paint the building’s exterior using donated paint; Alonso, a local DJ and builder, is in the process of remodeling the kitchen counters free of charge; Martin, a local welder, will secure the windows and build handrails for the front steps without charging labor; Eric, the owner of TecnoCom in La Peñita, has offered technical assistance and support for the computer lab at a reduced rate; and Mitch and Victor Carrillo Contreras are working with Selena Cardenas, the lead librarian of the Universidad Tecnológica de Bahía de Banderas, to organize the library and stock the shelves.
El Centro de La Gente is well on its way to becoming a reality.
Entrance and reception area
Library, reading room and kitchen
The interior work should be completed in a few weeks and they hope to open the doors to El Centro on July 15th, however, Mitch admits “that may be a little optimistic.”
Mitch and Vicky have relied on a team of consultants to bounce their ideas off, including David and Jacque Graff, Community Outreach Committee Chair for Amigos de Lo de Marcos. They have also garnered support from the board of directors and members of Amigos de Lo de Marcos; Memo at Galvan Real Estate who offered to manage the El Centro Facebook page; Jane Maroni who volunteered her time to beautify the street-side planters and the backyard garden area; and Victor Carrillo Contreras, who has been invaluable with translations, book donations, facilitating visits with government officials and more.
The first donations of books for the library!
About El Centro de La Gente
El Centro de La Gente is a new community center that will offer a variety of activities and services to the children and adults of Lo de Marcos, including:
- Lending library filled with books in Spanish
- Computer lab with 8 computers so teenagers can do their homework, study and research using the internet
- Designated reading space where parents can read to younger children and where volunteers can teach those who do not know how to read
- Space allocated for an English book exchange
- Play area stocked with educational toys
- Backyard with African keyhole garden with organic vegetables
- Seed bank where local farmers and plant lovers can exchange seeds
The building is located at Avenida Emiliano Zapata #37, one block southwest of main street between Calle Naranjo and Calle Adama (view Map of Lo de Marcos). They plan to be open from 10am-8pm, six days a week. El Centro will be staffed by a full-time paid director and staff. The interviewing process will begin soon, so if anyone is interested or knows of a qualified candidate, please contact Mitch immediately. They are also looking for volunteers and people who are willing to share their ideas.
Newly painted exterior
Planters filled with a variety of flowers and herbs near the entrance
How YOU Can Help
1) Financial Support – A monetary gift is the easiest way to give. Donations of money will be used to pay rent and to furnish the facility, as well as pay the wages of the contract people who will work at the center. Donations may be made via mail, direct deposit, email money transfer, in person or PayPal.
2) Donate Time and Items – We need Spanish language books for children, teenager and adults, as well as new or gently used desktop and laptop computers for the computer lab, bookshelves for the library and other furniture to furnish El Centro.
3) Volunteer – We are always looking for volunteers and people who are willing to share their ideas.
4) Follow El Centro de La Gente – You can watch our progress on the El Centro de La Gente community webpage on Jaltemba Bay Life and via our Facebook page.
Back side of building
Shaded area for reading and playing games
The backyard will be transformed into an African keyhole garden and seed bank
by Allyson Williams
About El Centro de La Gente: El Centro de La Gente is a new community center that will offer a variety of activities and services to the children and adults of Lo de Marcos, including a lending library with Spanish books, computer lab, designated reading space, play area stocked with educational toys, backyard with African keyhole garden with organic vegetables, seed bank where local farmers and plant lovers can exchange seeds. To learn more or to make a donation, visit El Centro de La Gente.