Friday, April 23, 2010

Big 'Ol Texas

I've never really been to Texas before. Years ago Caleb and I took a month long trip around the U.S. and Canada and it took about 2 days just to get across Texas. We did spend a night in El Paso, but that's more Mexico than Texas in my opinion.

So, I got picked up at the Dallas airport by Capi (Captain David as the kids call him at Hogar) the president of the U.S. Board for Hogar Infantil. His bright and precocious 9 year old granddaughter, Cameron was in the back seat. I am happy to say that the first thing we did was drive to Fort Worth and go to Fred's, a popular burger joint. There's nothing like a cold local micro brew on draft with a big messy burger to make a girl feel welcome and break the ice. I watched Cameron hula-hoop to her soon to be step-dad's fantastic guitar playing and decided this was a part of Texas I could easily like. It was good people watching at Fred's too, though Capi made me get a picture taken with two Texans in their cowboy gear. I asked Capi if they were authentic or wearing costumes and though we agreed they were probably off work lawyers, he said they were pretty authentic. I guess boots and a hat are considered post work casual attire for white collar workers. Ha.

Capi's house is situated in this huge gated community that's also a pecan orchard. It's not unusual to see people driving their private planes up the driveway and into the hangers next to their house. Capi's a pilot too and said he can fly from his home to Hogar Infantil in Chiapas in about 7 hours. Impressive. He has two very cool little planes.

I was made to feel right at home, staying with Capi and Leslie and their two dogs Buddy and Maggie. The following morning, I took a nice long bath in their guest room's claw foot bathtub. I can't remember the last time I had a real bath. It may have been almost a year ago. I drank my coffee and read Harry Potter and fully relished the luxury of soaking in a tub. After that I had breakfast. Really my ideal breakfast. Fage greek yogurt, dark honey, Leslie's homemade granola, blueberries and raspberries. It's been over a year since I've had blueberries too, so they tasted like candy. I ate the same breakfast each day I was there and it was such a treat! I almost took a picture to post, but I didn't want to stop eating to go find my camera.

Most of the board members arrived on Friday. It was so nice to put faces to some of the people I had been in email correspondence with for the past several months. Katie and Johanna in particular were great to see. They are the volunteer coordinators and have been such an encouragement to me and Kyla. Johanna was one of the first female truck drivers years ago, when trucking was strictly a male dominated field. She loved the road. She loved traveling and being able to smoothly maneuver an 18 wheeler through rush hour traffic in Chicago. She loved how exciting and sometimes terrifying the job was. Johanna had to put up with a lot of harassment from her fellow truckers for years. She earned their respect by her wit and skill on the road. She is not someone to mess with. And she has a heart of gold. She's the Board's secretary and a firecracker.

Katie is married to a former graduate of Hogar Infantil. She fell in love with Neto while they both has staff positions at the ranch. It's a beautiful love story. Katie has such a passion for the kids at Hogar. She is a brave and sensitive woman who brings a lot of beauty to this world. Unbelievably, she actually brought 3 knitting projects to work on for the 2 1/2 days she was in Texas. She has mad skills and it was Katie who taught most of the kids to knit at Hogar. Her little daughter is currently undergoing treatment for leukemia. Even through this, Katie has found time to be actively involved with Hogar. She's on the Board and in charge of the newsletter, volunteer coordinating, and many other tasks as well. Her translation skills are indispensable. I only hope to be able to speak Spanish on her level some day!

The rest of the board (in total 7 people attending) were also quite the mix of interesting people. Some had been active with Hogar Infantil for the past 30 years. It was really good for me to get a better idea of Hogar's history and how the U.S. Board functions. Like many non-profits today it's struggling to make end meet, but it was very educational for me to see how problems were dealt with, new ideas were discussed and to learn about Hogar's general policies. I'm honored that they gave me a voice in their board meeting. I know that I was able to bring up topics that otherwise may not have been discussed and that I was able to give a fresh perspective on some things. I also tried to be a voice for the kids at Hogar. There had been several concerns on my mind, and I am pleased to say they were heard and taken seriously. I now have a much more complete sense of this organization and my possible role within it.

I had some great, insightful conversations outside of the meeting as well (one night until 3am!). I feel like a sponge, there is so much to catch up on and so much to learn. I do feel like I have a much more well-rounded picture of Hogar, not only from the kids' perspective, but also from the organization's standpoint. It's all rather complex and it has given me a lot to think about.

Thanks again to all who made this trip possible. It was an all around good experience. Texas was even kind of pretty with the wild flowers and cows every where. And I do like a good steak and cowboy boots with summer dresses...

1 comment:

Katie said...

It was so lovely to finally meet you and absorb some of your infectious energy! Thanks for all your support for Hogar and I look forward to much more with you in the future!