We really looked forward to getting more involved with hands-on charity work in retirement, and now that we are there, one of the charities we most enjoy working with is Villa Infantil. The Villa is a local orphanage run by some Mexican nuns. They have a nice compound on the south side of the lake, about one-half hour from our house. There are about 35 children at the home. Every one of them has a heart-breaking story, but in most cases it has the happy ending of them being at the Villa. Our parish helps by (among other things) collecting supplies and groceries once a month, running an annual fundraiser, and holding a party for those children who have a birthday each month.
We attended the birthday bash this month. The event began with Mass in the chapel, where we got to enjoy the children singing and high-fiving Father Basil as he processed to the altar. At the end of the Mass, the children orderly exited one row at a time under the watchful eyes of one of one of the Sisters. One of the youngsters, Santiago, gave us a guided tour of the premises. The younger children were thrilled with some large marbles thoughtfully provided by a volunteer; some of the older kids played games like t-ball or catch with an American football. Once the lunch was ready, the kids took their seats and we served them hamburguesas with potato chips. We all sang Happy Birthday and ate cake, then each child with a birthday that month got a set of presents again provided by volunteers.
You’ll never see kids happier with a toy, a game, or a ball and a chance to play catch. Whatever joy those children felt, I bet all the volunteers would agree with me that we had “the better part.”