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The Potential of a Pencil

Every parent wants to give their children the best that they can. In Puerto Peñasco, education is the gift that keeps on giving. The future of Peñasco, and undoubtedly the rest of the world, begins with educating the children. And without our help, many of these students will never realize their full potential. The potential of a pencil in a motivated student's hand and a support system behind them is enormous.

The education system in Puerto Peñasco is entirely different from what we're used to in the US. All aspects of American public school costs are supported through taxes, whereas a new school provided by the Mexican government only consists of a shell of a building with no doors or windows. The parents of the neighborhood whose children attend need to contribute for doors, windows, and restrooms as well as chairs, desks, blackboards, uniforms, and more. Even though there are two shifts of students, there is often not enough room for the kids who would like to go to school. High school (Preperatoria) students are also responsible for books and testing costs, about $100 a year.

In order to jet a job with most companies, from a grocery store to a resort, students must earn a High School degree. These kind of jobs have career potential or at least enable skill development that can earn them promotions and raises. Many larger resorts will even provide bus transportation from the barrios to work as most don’t have a car. Sadly, many kids don't get past middle school, get stuck with menial jobs and look forward to a life of poverty.

Enter Mark and Barb Olszewski. Residents of Peñasco for almost 20 years, they help with numerous charities in town. But helping the children get the opportunity of education and breaking the cycle of poverty is their true passion. They created "Adopt a Classroom" to help support the education of children in Rocky Point whose parents all struggle with the costs. They've adopted twelve local elementary schools, including one for children with special needs, and strive to provide everything from basic school supplies and desks, to water pumps and heaters. Throughout the year, they coordinate boat trips, "rubber duckie races", Las Vegas nights, and many other events to raise both money and awareness for the students in Peñasco. Absolutely 100% of all supplies and money donated go directly to helping the schools. All administrative time and materials are volunteered freely.

In the past few years, Mark and Barb have started an offshoot education program which sponsors an individual student who shows the desire and work ethic to get a Preperatoria degree, but not the opportunity. Since Barb works so closely with the schools and community, she's able to identify the teenagers who dream of an education that can get them into a professional career and are willing to study hard for the three years to acheive it. With scholarships made of donations by wonderful people, Barb assists these young adults to get Mexico's version of a "GED", and follows up on their progress regularly to ensure they are still on the right track to continue their scholarship.

Please use the PayPal buttons to donate by credit card--it's set up in increments of $10 plus fees for the classrooms and $50 plus fees to support a worthy student. Any and all help is appreciated. Money, time, food, school supplies, clothes and toys will all be gratefully accepted. Nothing goes to waste and nothing is too small.

By donating money and/or supplies to the classrooms, or sponsoring an individual student to attain their high school degree, you are giving this town of young birds their wings.

Mark and Barb can be reached at and please visit for more information.

Thank you!!

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