Agape has been an outreach ministry to the very poor in Tijuana for about 40 years. Some of our members have been making trips to Tijuana for more than 30 years, while some no longer travel and others have never gone on the trips. We currently support five main charities with $2,400 monthly stipends and visits and have another that we no longer support with visits, but provide small Christmas gifts for the 400 homeless men it serves. The longest running are Casa de los Pobres (“home of the poor”) and Hogar Verdad y Vida (“hearth of truth and life”, also called Madres Solteras (“single mothers“) as they care for single teen mothers and their children).
How can you help? There are three ways you can participate in this wonderful ministry:
- Time – Each group gladly welcomes helping hands, drivers with utility vehicles, and those willing to help with planning meetings. Whatever your schedule allows.
- Treasure – You can contribute to St. John Fisher Charitable Outreach (Obra Buena). Contributions to Obra Buena are separate from our general collection, so they are not used to determine our archdiocesan church assessment or our Together in Mission goal. Every penny received is distributed to the needy in our community; the more you give, the more we distribute. Direct monetary contributions are also welcomed. You will find Obra Buena coupons as part of your monthly coupon packet. You can also give to Obra Buena online through Faith Direct.
- Talent – You can donate your time as a volunteer at PV Resale. You can dedicate your hours towards the funds Agape receives from PV Resale’s quarterly distributions.
* Adult Volunteers Only *
Casa de Los Pobres has an extensive outreach program, a medical and dental clinic, and serves 23,000 hot meals monthly to the very poor. The Franciscan Sisters visit their clients, providing a weekly supply of basic food stuffs, and have a school support program for the children in the families they visit. In addition to the monthly stipend, we give up to $6,000 each year for the education support program, and food and other requested articles when we visit. A few years ago we paid for the materials for repainting their facility. Currently they are supporting more than 200 Haitian refugees in addition to their other works.
The teenage mothers and their children at Madres Solteras (Single Mothers) are provided with shelter, food, medical aid. The children of school age are able to attend school while their mothers have access to high school education and help with parenting skills. The facility has been enlarged over the years from one house with bedroom dorms and a shared kitchen to a second adjoining house with several bathrooms, large dorms, a meeting room. Over the years our financial aid has helped the Sisters to install a complete commercial kitchen, remodel a bathroom, a metal safety hand rail on the outside cement steps to the lower level, mattresses and bed clothing, sewing machines, some medical supplies, a new roof. When visiting we take food and cleaning supplies. This year we paid $10,000 towards a SUV to replace their car and funds for building repairs.
Mr. Lynch’s Kindergarten provides a morning kindergarten experience to about 75 children who live by the former city dump. Over the years we have bought a video projector, an all-in-one laser printer and we purchase the complete school uniforms for the children, as well as stockings filled with gifts at Christmas. We also held an on-site work seminar with their teachers by an arts teacher from Palos Verdes to provide classroom materials and expertise for their art projects.
Caritas de Dios (“Little Faces of God”) was established a few years ago by two families who could not get care for their special needs children. On land provided by the city, several discarded mobile classrooms given by a school district in San Diego have been refurbished, water has been piped to the facility, bathrooms have been installed and the 125-plus children with disabilities now receive education and care. There is a psychologist, a special education teacher, an aide and help from parents and grandparents who “pay their tuition” with volunteering. The older siblings of the disabled receive day care after school while the younger ones are cared for all day, so the parent(s) may work. The mother and children are often abandoned. Agape built an enclosed dining room, remodeled their kitchen and helped repair a retaining wall by their athletic field, as well as provided school supplies and the same arts teacher from Palos Verdes came with us for a similar teacher session as at the Kindergarten. This year, we provided about $6,500 for water and sewer lines connecting two new portable classrooms.
Hogar de San Juan is an assistance program for homeless men run by Sisters of Saint Mother Theresa of Calcutta. While we do not visit them on a frequent basis, each year we do bring 400 toiletry kits to them for distribution at Christmas.
Casa de Cuna (“House of the Crib”) is a Convent and daycare center run by nuns for the children of the working poor. They provide breakfast and lunch as well as classroom learning for about 50 children. In addition, they have overnight facilities for children when parents are working away from the area or on night shift. Our monthly checks help pay for teacher salaries, electricity, water and other utility bills. Many years ago, Agape coordinated with a Tijuana youth detention center to construct the dining room tables and chairs still in use there. This year we sent $12,600 for infrastructure repairs.
In a normal year, we make five trips to Tijuana and visit two charities on each trip. Beforehand, we contact them and find out what they need in the way of food, cooking or cleaning supplies, dishware and so forth. On a typical trip we being about $500 worth of purchases to each charity. Monthly we currently send $2,400 in checks ($28,800/year). Our annual income is approximately $35-40,000 and our largest contributor is the Palos Verdes Resale Thrift Shop ($32,000 in 2021), about 75-80 percent of our income. We also have two large, one-time donations: $40,000 dedicated for infrastructure projects at $10,000 per year and a $20,000 Trust Fund donation for increased monthly payments over the next four years.
Our last cross border trip was in February 2020, just before the COVID-19 pandemic shut down everything, including the border. Since then, we have maintained telephone and email contact with our charities on a regular basis and have increased the amount of the monthly checks. We also established delivery locations for each of the charities on this side of the border. We are monitoring the border situation and are hopeful that we will be able to resume our Tijuana trips in the very near future. The powerful emotional experience of warmth and love from these dedicated Tijuana caregivers and the joy in the eyes of the children is truly unforgettable.
Misty Jesse, Director of Evangelization 310-377-4573 ext 130 email@example.com