Nothing says “We Care” like a big night of generous giving at Chacala’s Annual Cambiando Vidas Annual Fundraising Banquet held on February 15, 2013. It was Auction-&-Raffle night. It was Thank-You-Volunteers-&- Contributors night. It was Awards-to-Our-Brightest-&-Best night. And it was a Night-to-Remember! For over 100 faithful patrons of the Student Scholarship Program it was a reminder that, “Paradise needs a Purpose to actually be… Paradise!” The huge festive palapa at Marina Chacala’s Beach Club rang with the tears of joy and cheers of laughter at Ben Laird’s hilarious MC humor.

Cambiando Vidas means “changing lives” and we don’t just mean students… the program enriches every life that steps in and… “does something!” This year, those who just couldn’t help themselves and did the most were honored. Nanci rebuilt the Primary School Kitchen, sponsored scholarships and took complete control of “food & nutrition” for the whole program. Susana helped found Cambiando Vidas in 1998 and remains very active still! She is our “Founder Emeritus.” And each year Cambiando Vidas names the one person who does the most for our entire Village, “Citizen of the Year.” Susana presents that award this year to “BK” Barringer.

(left) Students Giselle & Dalia sell raffle tickets. (right) Dir. Blanca awards Rocio, Student-of-the-Year.

(left) Laura Barringer eyes the “decorator eggs.” (right) Founder Emeritus Susana awards “BK” Citizen of the Year.

(left) Nanci, 2013 Golden Apple Award. (right) President Steph looks on.

Photos by Allan Hardman

About the Authors: Hal and Stephanie Arnest retired full time to Chacala (Nayarit, MX) in April 2009. Very soon, Stephanie became involved in “Cambiando Vidas,” a 10-year-old local scholarship program, and has been serving as its President for the past 2 years. Hal, the awesome, obedient, dutiful husband that he is, quickly assumed a totally subservient role as her Ghost Writer; authoring newsletters, brochures, website, historian and rookie photographer. Above all they found themselves deeply committed to the students and to the many tasks necessary to give local kids an authentic opportunity for a bigger life. They found what so many expatriates find… paradise without purpose… isn’t paradise. Hal’s favorite thing is taking the kids on “outings.” He is 72 and she’s “obviously” 29½… and says, “… feels like we’ve been married f-o-r-e-v-e-r!”

For more information, visit the Cambiando Vidas website.

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