As 2017 came to a close, we took a look back to some of the best highlights from the past year. Thank you to all of the donors, trip participants, and partners who helped Comunidad Connect extend our reach and impact in communities throughout rural Nicaragua. Take a look at some of our favorite photos below from 2017. We look forward to making even more great memories with you all in the year to come!
We were excited to close out 2017 with a visit from our Board of Directors. Leslie Stewart, Carey Smith-Marchi, Mat Mendonca, and Michelle and Austin Drill meet with a family in Los Robles.
Girls soccer teams participate in a tournament in Los Robles in August.
Doctors Ben and Karen Thrower brought groups down in February and July of last year, providing care to over 20 special needs and pediatric patients in Los Robles and San Esteban 2.
Athletes practice their new skills during a volleyball clinic in the sports park in San Juan del Sur.
Jon Thompson, co-founder and CEO, awards Alejandro Noguera with a certificate celebrating his 10 year commitment with Comunidad Connect as our Youth Connections Director.
Taking a quick break to pose for the camera during a home construction project in Los Robles.
Matt Knoop and Mike Goll visited Nicaragua this past November with co-founder and CEO Jon Thompson to learn about Comunidad Connect's work and look for new ways to become involved.
Maria Lourdes (left) poses with her family in San Esteban. Maria Lourdes receives monthly medication through our Special Needs and Pediatric patient project.
Nine-year-old Crisbell Gutiérrez (center) is another patient that receives monthly support from our Special Needs and Pediatric Patient project. Her mother Tania is very grateful for this assistance.
Abigail Hunt volunteered for a month in Los Robles this past summer, serving as a translator and guide for groups. She loved getting to know the community!
Our Health Summit was a success this past May. Medical and academic partners joined us in Los Robles to discuss our Health Connections Program, research, and initiatives going forward.
Comunidad Connect greatly values building strong relationships with community members. Here, Yarisleidy Mayorquin (Director of Community Connections) smiles with Doña Ernestina from San Esteban 2.
Students at Carrizal primary school graduate from our community garden project in San Juan del Sur.
Athletes pose for a group picture during their volleyball clinic in San Juan del Sur.
This past December sports teams from San Juan del Sur, Los Robles, Jinotega, and Costa Rica participated in a soccer tournament in Jinotega. San Juan del Sur won the final championship.
Athletes play in a close game between San Juan del Sur and Saprissa from Costa Rica.
Stepping up to the plate, kids in San Juan del Sur have fun during a baseball game.
Students at Carrizal primary school study different leaf structures through our community garden project in San Juan del Sur.
Juan Carlos, a patient enrolled in our Special Needs and Pediatric Patient project, smiles with his new hand and visual stimulation toy.
Bill Trabilcy visited this past February and donated new baseball equipment to students at Madre Tereza de Calcuta in San Juan del Sur. They were very excited to receive new mitts!
PiLA Fellow ('16-'17) Grace Galloway gives an environmental education lesson to students in San Juan del Sur. Primary school students started a community garden and learned all about healthy foods and the environment!
Georgia State University students worked in Los Robles last January, providing physical therapy consultations to families in the community.
Jaime Ramos, pictured with his daughter and niece, will receive a new home through a partnership with the Indigenous Community in San Esteban 2 this year. His family is grateful to improve their living conditions.
Yarisleidy Mayorquin demonstrates how to use and maintain water filters from our Nica Agua program to community members in San Esteban 2.
Children in Los Robles hold up paintings they made with LifeBridge Church this summer.
This November, a group of nursing students and practitioners from the University of North Georgia provided women's health exams in communities outside of León.
Nursing students from Kennesaw State University had a great week playing with kids and giving educational health talks to community members in Los Robles.
Westminster Church came down in July and shared several fun activities with kids in Los Robles.
Volunteers from Westminster Church building an improved oven for a family in Los Robles.
Tania America Picado is the mother of Crisbell Gutiérrez (far right), one of the beneficiaries of our Neurological and Pediatric Patient Project in Los Robles.
Over the past ten years, Comunidad Connect has provided thousands of Nicaraguans with access to health services, youth development programs, and improved living conditions. We are thankful for your financial support this year, without which this incredible impact would not have been possible.
As we begin our next decade of work driven by our collective experience in Nicaragua, Comunidad Connect kindly requests you to consider extending your impact further by participating in our Holiday Campaign. Your contributions will allow us to expand our programs to reach thousands more residents of isolated communities in Nicaragua and connect them with critical resources and services.
Take for example the family of 9 year old Crisbell Gutiérrez, who we met in the community of Los Robles in 2015. An accident at 2 months old left her partially paralyzed with frequent seizures, while her single mother struggled to provide for her 4 children. Through our health and service programs, we connected Crisbell to Drs. Ben and Karen Thrower who helped provide the appropriate medicine and monthly check ups. Today, Crisbell has increased mobility, seizures are now rare, and her mother is happy knowing her daughter’s special medical needs are being met.
Connecting vital resources to those who need them most is what Comunidad Connect does best, but we cannot do it alone. I invite you to watch Crisbell’s story, share it with others you know and consider making a contribution to our Holiday Campaign. Each of us can be a piece of the solution…and we can indeed go much farther, together.
Keep a look out for more videos in our three-part video series and stay updated with our Holiday Campaign!
Thank you to everyone who came out on Saturday and participated in the 2017 Craft Beer Fundraiser. It was truly a beautiful day of music, BBQ, beer, and celebration. From all of us at Comunidad Connect, your support of Nicaragua and sustainable community development is inspiring. Thank you for helping us continue to build the puzzle!
We would like to give a special thanks to Coalesce Design and Fabrication for hosting the event, as well as to A-Lodge Boulder, Bili Blanket Baby, Jim Bulter, and Vacasa for their generous support.
Written by: Grace Galloway, All People Be Happy Fellow, Princeton in Latin America Fellow, Comunidad Connect 2015 -2017.
Last harvest of the season: mangoes, papayas, cucumbers, green beans, and jalapeños.
After working with Comunidad Connect for a year and in Central America for three years, I felt ready to take on my own project. Our office’s spacious but vacant backyard as well as the neighborhood’s complete lack of green space offered the perfect opportunity for a community garden. As I finish up my two years living in San Juan del Sur and working with CC, I have a few memories to share.
Every interaction in the garden, except with bugs and pests, has been a highlight of my experience. Two stand out the most. At the beginning of our time in the garden, the girls from the Escuela Adelante Garden Club refused to touch our compost pile, deeming it gross and insisting that worms are scary. After a few months, the group was assigned to flip the compost, and two of the girls, Brithany and Sinaí, grabbed the shovels, and started scooping, worms and all. The second experience that stands out happened in my last weeks working with Nuevo Despertar Preschool. Our second to last lesson went over ecosystems, what they are and which animals and plants live in the ocean, forest, and desert. A week later, I asked them what scientific word we had learned the previous week. Shyly, they looked at each other, and after a minute Valeria raised her hand and whispered “ecosistema”. The teacher and I laughed with joy, knowing that our lesson had been effective and impactful in the minds of the young students.
El Carrizal English class celebrates Garden Graduation.
Thanks to our amazing volunteer of the month, Mitzi Kincaid, June was filled with volleyball and girls empowerment in San Juan del Sur. Mitzi, Sports Psychology MA candidate at the John F. Kennedy University, worked with our Youth Development Program Director, Alejandro Noguera, and Community Initiatives fellow, Grace Galloway to host Chicas Fuertes (Strong Girls), a three-week girls empowerment volleyball camp.
Girls practicing deep breathing strategies at the Centro Escolar.
Mitzi, Alejandro and Grace worked with three different schools, teaming with select groups of girls to teach mental skills including deep breathing, focus, positive self-talk and goal setting. After practicing their mental skills girls were challenged to bump, set, and spike the ball, while putting into practice their teamwork abilities. By the end of the month, over 150 girls between the ages of 7-17 had had the opportunity to consistently play a sport many of them had only watched from the sidelines. More importantly, the girls each had a chance to express themselves, sharing times that they feel nervous, unconfident, and worried. They also learned about and put into practice positive self-talk on and off the volleyball court.
Mitzi’s energy, positivity, experience, and love of both volleyball and girls empowerment made Chicas Fuertes a success. With continued support from Mitzi and Comunidad Connect, as well as other female leaders and athletes in San Juan del Sur, we hope to make Chicas Fuertes a year round opportunity.
Join fellow donors, supporters, and volunteers on a week-long Volunteer Adventure December 2-10, 2017.
Volunteers will stay at an organic coffee farm in the hills of Jinotega, complete public health projects with local families, and participate in cultural exchange activities such as baking local treats! Come to Nicaragua to give back, exchange experiences, learn about our work first-hand, and get a taste of the unbelievable beauty this Central American country has to offer.
Come enjoy some of Colorado’s best craft beers while supporting Comunidad Connect this September!
Featuring some of the best micro-breweries in Boulder, this family-friendly event will benefit Comunidad Connect while celebrating the rich tradition of micro-breweries of the area. This will be the 9th year of this popular fundraiser and the second year benefiting Comunidad Connect.
Saturday September 30th, 2017 2 pm 1930 Central Ave, Boulder, CO
Suggested Donation: $40, and $100 for the VIP package
Your support will help rural Nicaraguans access medicine and transportation for specialist doctor visits and contribute to the care for patients with developmental delays and neurological conditions, such as epilepsy, multiple sclerosis.
Written by: Jon Thompson, Comunidad Connect Co-Founder
At the NCHC Academic Partners meeting in December 2016, I shared the incredible news that for the first time ever, the Ministry of Health (MINSA) has established a public health clinic in the community of Los Robles! Located in the humble home of long time brigadista Petrona Diaz, the MINSA clinic is managed by nurses Sonia Rosales, Francis Rizo and Rosa Aguilar. They see over 250 patients a month and reflect a much improved commitment by the government to Los Robles. Given this progress and to avoid duplicating efforts in providing primary care, we have closed our clinic and broadened our preventive health strategy in Los Robles and neighboring communities. We will support the MINSA clinic with donations of medicine, materials, and equipment, and we will continue to partner with local brigadistas who promote and facilitate preventive health education and outreach initiatives. Together, we look forward to collaborating with volunteer groups, medical brigades, and MINSA in Los Robles and beyond.
Doña Petrona Diaz (left) and nurse Sonia Rosales at the new MINSA health clinic in Los Robles.