I read something  recently suggesting a good idea would be to write about this event now.   It happened so fast it could be difficult to keep a perspective on this world-wide pandemic.

March 11, 2020, the Jeffery and Hernandez families were at the Sawgrass Beach Club having a celebration of Jose’s 50th birthday party.  The Club was filled, much more so than on a usual Wednesday night, as this was the eve of The Players golf championship played each year at nearby TPC course in Ponte Vedra Beach.   Members were there entertaining guests who had arrived to attend the tournament.  In addition there was a huge TPC party with all the executives and employees in town for the  tournament, which proudly and rightfully claims the deepest field of any golf tournament.  Jeannie and Lisle were, as they have been for many years, tournament volunteers.  In summary, it was a great evening with only good things ahead.

There was news about a coronavirus out-of-contol in China and there were a few cases appearing in Europe and in the US in California and New York.  We were concerned, but I certainly did not comprehend  it coming so fast and so completely taking over our lives, our health, our economy.

The next day, Thursday, March 12, The Players tournament began as scheduled for the first of four days.  Jeannie was scheduled for Friday, but at 10 pm that evening she was advised that The Players was canceled completely and that players were returning home.  Meanwhile, my granddaughter Jennifer was in the Dominican Republic waiting by a tennis court to play in the quarter finals of an international tournament when a tournament official walked on the court and announced the tournament was canceled.  She and her coach scrambled to get on a plane to Boston. It seems already European and Asian players in both these tournaments were dropping out and leaving for home.

Friday, March 13, everything seemed to crumble.  All  future sports activities one by one were canceled  until further notice.  Schools, on all levels, began to close.  People were advised to stay home, especially those over 65 and with an underlying health problem.  This certainly applied to me at age 93 and with a genetic propensity for pneumonia.  It urgently applied to my daughter, Patty Hernandez, who a few years ago had a kidney transplant.  She found two face masks and dropped one off at my door before we both went into lockdown.  Essentially everything that was deemed non-essential was closed.   It was like standing in a room and doors, one after another, slammed shut not to be opened in the foreseeable future.

Tomorrow will mark seven weeks since these events began!   Much of this time has gone by in a blur and I am not sure I have remembered all facts correctly.  Rapidly activities all over the world seemed to stop.     No access to my MD except by Mayo Portal messages or video consultation.  All medical and dental appointments unless life threatening were canceled,.  Sawgrass, beach, tennis and fitness activities shut down.  Social distancing became the norm.  This is also true with my family in Canada and my grandson in Paris.

By now my hair is almost down to my shoulders.  Fortunately I can do my own manicure. My attempts at a pedicure are funny I guess. And, woe is me, the cleaning lady is no longer coming.  I am not above cleaning.  In fact it is good for me to move around more, but my attempts at cleaning at my advanced age have been both dangerous and funny. Last Thursday I fell off my rolling desk chair trying to lean over and clean a lower bookcase.  Cut my arm reaching in a tight spot which resulted in no serious damage but lots of blood, reminding me that I need a new supply of all sizes of band aids.  The final blow was when a very heavy paper weight fell on the top of my left foot.  Did not hurt at the time, but a few hours later, I was in bed with ice packs.  A friend wrote me when I missed Zoom book club meeting, “Pat, Leave the cleaning.  Just read a book. Much safer.”

There has been a lot of rethinking, adjusting, etc., these past seven weeks.  I first thought it would not be too bad.  With the fitness center closed, all social activities not available, I would  have all this free time to finally get to cleaning out photo albums, saving some to computer and sharing or destroying the photos.  But I have found myself feeling  depressed as all the bad and conflicting news rolls in. I decided to just read a backlog of books, and it turns out reading books can also be dangerous, at least to me. Feel free to laugh;  I do.   I tried to read in bed holding my heavy iPad, where I have my Kindle books.  In just three days I had badly and painfully torn a neck muscle.  After hot pads, a neck brace, lots of sleep and lots of pain pills I am almost normal.  Thanks to suggestion by daughter Barbara I found a book holder at Amazon for reading in bed.  This works well with something else under it and thanks to my bed which I can adjust to have my head and back up in reading position.

Since The Players was to take place when this all began, I had made a huge market the week before.  I no longer venture out to Publix or any place on AIA during the heavy influx of tourists for the tournament which makes  traffic in this small town too heavy, too fast and too exciting for this old lady.   I now depend on Amazon. thank goodness for Prime, or by delivery service from Publix, which is a bit costly but necessary and they do a remarkably  good job selecting produce.

Additionally, thank goodness for WhatsApp, Face Time, and Zoom.  These have allowed me every Thursday night to chat with my Book Club ladies; watch frequent my beautiful funny great grandsons; and chat with video with good friends in Colombia .  I am very grateful to my late husband, and to my children and grandchildren  for pushing me forward into technology which I would have never done otherwise.

I decided I should do something about exercise so two days in a row took a small walk.  thinking I would increase the length each day.  I have long heard a quote something like “use it or loose it.”  Well I had not been doing any exercise for some days and Yep!! True!!.  After two days of walking I had a sore knee and leg.  More rest, ice packs, and words I am glad no one was around  to hear.  Now knee and leg is mended, and I am carefully exercising inside my apartment  a little bit everyday, using exercises I used when working with my excellent trainer, Ashley Uhl, at the Sawgrass fitness center.  I have had more injuries since this lockdown to keep me safe ? than I have had over a period of years.

I have enjoyed cooking in the kitchen using all the things I have had stuffed away in corners in the refrigerator, pantry and freezer.  Made a pecan pie using a very old jar of corn syrup,  a frozen Gluten Free pie crust and any nuts I found in small packages in the freezer.  Worked well!  Since anything very  sweet is not allowed on my OAB (over active bladder) diet this is probably my last such pie. (OAB one of those delightful results from the Golden Years!?)

Also had various packages of white fresh cheese, feta cheese and Mexican crumbly cheese,  which I had bought some time ago to make pan de bono, (a Colombian bread) with a mix  I also had bought in past month or two.  The problem is that the cheese must be grated or crumbled. I tried in the blender and after many tries, lots of time, with small amounts and using the pulse button I finally got all 24 ounces crumbled without turning it into a paste.  The rest is easy.  Combine pan de bono mix with cheese and a cup of milk, much as making biscuits.  I remember the cook in Colombia used her hands to mix, so I thoroughly washed hands, (Dr. Oz style taught on TV as necessary)  and combined all ingredients until dough was consistency to mold by hand and bake on cookie sheet. The results was delicious !!  Sat down and ate the entire first batch.  Not the healthiest dinner but oh so satisfying.  I did drink a  large glass of apple cider and water so at least I had some fruit. Also I remembered I had had this bread in Toronto frozen so I made more rolls which I placed on a tray in freezer.  Next day I baked a few and hurray! they were delicious.  However, crumbling  the cheese was such an ordeal I did not plan to make any more.

I raved about this to Patty, Jeannie and Barbara.  Jeannie found she had a box of mix and white cheese  and made some and they were delicious.  Barbara and Jennifer face timed with me when  they were making  pan de bono in order to compare what I had done.    They had a  small food processor and this crumbled the cheese rapidly.  We had fun chatting as they made the bread.  This type of white cheese is called by various names in Colombia.  Queso cuajado, queso costeno are all I remember.  At any rate, the Jeffery children loved this cheese  and Barbara kept eating it as she cooked, saying “I remember this cheese from Cali.  It was always so good!!  When the first batch of bread was cooked they said it lacked something. Turned out it was cheese.  Barbara has eaten too much before adding to bread mix.   They got out another package which was added and problem solved.  Lots of fun and laughs.  Two days later, Amazon is so fast,  I found a package at the door which was a small food processor from the Riester’s   I was very surprised, very pleased, very grateful.    Back to making pan de bono.  So – this lock down has not been all bad.

Isolation, however,  has been a problem for me. I will not deny it. I obviously need more structure in my life.  I find myself sleeping too much.  Hate to get up in the morning.   At any rate I am working on it. Each day it seems I have a  new plan.  One I am sticking with which I started this week is that I am doing my daily exercise.  Today, high on my list was to write this blog.  It took until noon to get to it, but here I am writing as I planned.  Will not be able to finish and send today,, but each day a small victory is better than none.  I am also trying each night to make a plan for the next day which I print out and try to get at least some of the things done the next day.  Emphasis on the word trying.

In Cali I knew a very special lady, Dorothy (Dottie) Uribe She embodied so many traits I admire in people.  Her children should write a book about her!  I learned much from her, especially in my early days in Cali.  She once said to me that her daily motto was to each day do something for someone else and something for herself.  She died several years ago but she is still teaching me today.  I am working very hard to follow this practice  of hers. I particularly need to do so during this strange pandemic time.

Well. I know this is more information about my life, ups and downs, in lockdown.  To everyone who reads this and who are probably also on some form of lockdown, I send my love and sympathies.  God Bless and Keep. Stay strong, stay careful, stay healthy !

Thoughts on Grandchildren Leaving for College

A common phrase I hear often among my friends . Where did the time go?!   I often feel this way but especially this week and next.  I have 12 grandchildren ranging from ages 34 to 16.  The five youngest are now fast growing up.  Two 18-year-olds are leaving for college this month.=, September, 2019.  I had such fun with them when they were small,  and then I blinked and they were grown.  No more making cookies, playing card games, peeling vegetables together and laughing and singing. Certainly no more rocking them to sleep and singing to them. There are so many cherished memories, many of which I am glad to have preserved in photos.

I do not like what see in this world today with the drugs, senseless violence, greed, secularism, lack of civility, and deteriorating values.   Here in their respective homes they were as safe as anyone is today.  I hope and pray that the Christian values they have been taught will serve them well and keep them safe as they emerge into adulthood where they must be responsible for themselves.

I am sad as I see they leave them leave, but they must. As parents and grandparents we fail if they are fearful of change and leaving home,    I have dearly loved being a grandmother to these special people in my life; loved every minute I was able to spend with them

I so want to send them all sorts of advice, but they have good, loving parents for this. Many years ago I saw a man put his son on an airplane for college and talking to him all the way to the gate.  As the plane took off, he said, “Darn I forgot to tell him so many  things. But,” he said ruefully, ” I would never have time to say all I want to say.”   I understood him then and I still do.

This is how I feel today as I think of all the advice I would like to share with them.  On the positive side, I would also like to tell them how I envy them as they start out on this first of many milestones in their respective lives.  All doors are open to them and in today’s world there are vast opportunities.  There are jobs that will be available when they graduate that do not even exist today.  Their job is to think ahead and plan their study courses to prepares themselves for whatever lies ahead for them.  I so hope each finds his or her passion.

This is where  feel a sort of envy as I see them stride confidently forward.  There will be lots of up and downs as they make their way through the years ahead.  I pray they treat  all experiences, good and bad, as learning experiences.  The may not know it now, but they do not know everything.  That will still be so the day the graduate from college.  It never happens to thinking people.   Life’s walk should always include broadening one’s knowledge and never stopping learning.  That is the way forward.

At 92, in a few weeks 93, there are few doors open anymore and that is the reality of life. I had my many doors open many years ago and had my share of good and bad choices, At the end of my life span, I am grateful for all my many blessings, most of all my late husband,  my precious family and good friends, and my Christian faith.  I deeply want to make the most of the very few doors left, especially where I can make a useful contribution.  I only hope I do not miss any opportunities.

To this granddaughter and grandson, I can only say “Que les vaya con Dios.”  May you walk with God!


It has been almost exactly one year since I have added to this blog site.  Some health reasons, only one of them was even possibly life threatening, and most of them dental problems.  It was the continually occurring events which seemed to drain me of energy and interest  to do anything that was not absolutely necessary, such as payment of bills.

Now at the  age of 92, I find myself the only one left of my generation among siblings, cousins, in-laws.,and of course my wise and loving husband, Scott W. Jeffery, Sr.  I miss them very much.  All too often I wish I could have a discussion with one of them or share a family event.  Scott,Sr., would so enjoy seeing  how well our children have turned out, as well as watching our grandchildren grow into adults and even the joy of once again having babies in the family in our two great grandsons., Oscar David and Charles Scott Delgado.

The new culture with its social mores are much different from my generation and it is  challenging for me.  Some I really like, such as the wonderful opportunities for women today in business and medicine, etc.  Others I do not pretend to understand.  I do recognize, however, every generation has a right to form their own opinions and choose their battles to fight.  Also I appreciate that they have parents to advise and guide them.

Nevertheless, every so often I send off an email or make a phone call with advice from my elderly view point.  I work hard against my tendency to have a “now hear this! ” tone in my written page or in my telephone voice. This is when I dearly miss having a conversation with my husband or other of my peers in my family.  I do try to only get involved with such matters that I think transcend cultural changes, such as family unity, the value of  corporate Christian faith, kindness,

Recently talked with a family member who has always been vulnerable.  She feels very hurt by treatment from other family members, and sometimes perhaps justifiably so.  However, I so want to make her understand that anger is counterproductive and emotionally destructive.  I know because several times I made this mistake myself until one day I had a sort of epiphany, realizing that the one I had hurt the most with this attitude was myself.

I have two quotes which have helped me:

“Don’t be angry because you cannot make people the way you want them to be, because it is difficult to  make yourself the person you would like to be.”

“We cannot control the response from other people but we can control our response to them.  Always in our response do what is right in love and forgiveness.”  Then  move on. Never repay a wrong with another wrong. Do not cling to old resentments.  Waste of time and emotional energy.

Immigration Current Heartbreaking Situation At Our Southern Borders — An Angry Rant!

Where to Start?????  What to do??  What are the solutions?  Solutions must be found!

My Granddaughter Michelle today wrote an impassioned blog on this situation.  As a devoted mother of a nineteen-month old boy, she deeply feels the pain of these children and their parents.  I agree with her.  What a tragedy!  She suggested,  for information how to help, that I check  a site “Cup of Jo,” which I did.  A suggestion from this writer was  that we contact our elected officials.  After writing elected officials many times over the 30 years since returning to the States, and not receiving ever a reply indicating that my message had even been read, I am more than a bit cynical. However, this is a true crisis of humanity, and I will write my elected officials again.

Having lived for 29 years in Latin America, the subject of immigration, when we lived in Colombia and after we came back to the States, has come up innumerable times.  As I write this, I do so with extreme temerity since all too often my opinions, and/or means of expressing same, from my 90-years-plus point of view, is often felt not to be correctly expressed.  But I plunge ahead.

As long as I can remember U.S. immigration has been a chaotic operation on many fronts.  Terribly, horribly complicated.  Seemingly never consistent.  Many qualified people have applied for visas, with a multitude of problems.

Years ago a man from Cali, Colombia, frequently would come to the U. S. to visit his daughter.  He owns property in Cali, retired from a US firm,  and in no way posed a threat to the U.S.   His daughter and son-in-law are employed in the US.  One day  he flew to Bogota (the Cali consular office long ago closed down?) to renew his visa.  He was told he made too many trips to the U.S. and could not renew his visa. No further explanation.  Someone told him that he could get a U S visa if he was willing to pay $10,000.   I do not know what he did.  He asked me to speak to someone in the US which I did and was told, “Patricia, there is nothing we can do.  The immigration system is broken.”  At any rate, he did finally get a visa and recently came to see us.

There are many such stories.  A man who once worked for me, came to the States through the Catholic Church.  He decided not to return to Colombia.  Somehow he was able to get his green card and later his U.S. citizenship.  I have no idea how.   I am told, there are many lawyers in the Jersey area who know how to get these things done.

Had lunch recently with a friend who emigrated from Venezuela many years ago.  She was commenting on the impossibility of the immigration system.  She told me about her friend who came to the States illegally.  Somehow he was able to get a job, a driver’s license, payed his taxes,  married and had children.  He applied many times for his green card, only to be delayed for a myriad of reasons.  Now he is being threatened with deportation, having to leave his wife and small children behind.

The indifference, the inefficiency of our immigration system is mind-boggling.

I am also angered with the Mexicans, who march in parades carrying signs in Spanish and carrying the Mexican flag.  If they are so eager to live here, then speak English, carry signs in English, and carry the flag of the United States of America.  If that Mexican flag is so important to them, then keep marching and carry it right back across the border to land which it represents.  I can just hear the derisive remarks that will come my way from this comment. I lived overseas, and I learned to speak Spanish.  It never occurred to me that I should do otherwise.  It was not easy but it was necessary and an obligation.  This was in 1956.  There was no internet.   I remember reading the daily newspaper with  a Spanish/English dictionary in my hand.

What really puzzles me is who organized this latest caravan of such a huge number of people and why?    Who vetted them before they joined the caravan to be sure they are truly people seeking asylum, and not some of them drug dealers, or pose a security threat?  Why plan to bring so many people at one time?  The act of processing immigrants takes time and organization and personnel.  This huge number of people arriving at the same time compounds the problem,.  PLEASE!! I AM IN NO WAY JUSTIFYING THE SEPARATION OF CHILDREN FROM THEIR PARENTS.

Also I am frustrated, angry, and disappointed at the various people involved who are using these poor people for political gain, and in many cases, monetary gain.

Sad commentary on our elected officials who are too busy at political gamesmanship,  to work out solutions to clean up our immigration system.  I find this utterly disheartening!!

It is just common sense that we cannot have people pouring over the open borders daily by the hundreds.  There must be some control.  Just look at the almost insurmountable problems in Europe from the invasions of immigrants from the Middle East.  This too is a sad tale of human misery, yet the desire to help those deserving has been abused by the undeserving who have wrecked such havoc in Europe.

As for those evil people who take money from these poor people seeking a new life in a new land, too often the result  is death and injury by the inhumane way they are transported, I have only utter disdain.  They are pure evil.  Human trafficking in whatever form is pure evil.

Postscript:  We have been without TV all day.  I just learned that the practice of taking children from their parents has been stopped.  Praise God!!  



Happy Fathers’ Day

To all Fathers everywhere, and especially to the ones in my family:  Scotty, Jose, Walt, Oliver.

Below is a photo of my father, Dr. Cecil O. Richer, taken the day of his graduation from Dental School, Indiana University. He was a loving father who would spend hours playing card games with my sister and me, which included whist, bridge and gin rummy, skills which served me well.  He also taught us both to dance.  A good musician, who could play any brass instrument, he had wonderful rhythm and loved to dance. He left us a legacy of honest, decency, and charitable giving among other things.  I have marvelous, loving  memories of him.

To the right below is a photo of Scott, Patty, and Jeannie.  Scott loved to clown around and this evening is typical.  I have no idea what he is wearing, but he is wearing Jeannie’s hat and sun glasses.  Whatever they are doing or wearing, they are having lots of fun and this is a good memory.

Final photo is of Scott opening his gifts, either on Fathers’ Day or his birthday.  No one loved birthdays or  Fathers’ Day more than Scott, except for perhaps his children.

The Scott, Sr., legacy extends beyond just having fun.  He was well-known in Cali, Colombia,  for his civic and charitable activities.  Scotty has the many decorations and honors given to him.  I think his greatest accomplishment was, through the resources of  Colgate Palmolive, the building of the  first public sports park in Cali, Colombia.  Built in a very poor neighborhood, it was huge and included many sports,  from soccer to swimming and tennis.  Each sport  had a full time coach to train the people in their selected activity,  Colgate went on to build two  more such facilities and then a group was formed of business men to build these same facilities in other parts of Colombia.

I had intended to show photos of all the fathers mentioned above, but could not find photos which would include all their children, so gave up.  Also wanted to show photos of Scott, who was also an adoring grandfather, but again could not find all the photos needed.

To Scott Jeffery, Jr., Jose Hernandez, Walter Riester, Oliver Delgado, I salute you!!,  for each of you are wonderful fathers.  Just ask their children.  Little Oscar perhaps cannot give credence to the claim today, but I am sure he will once he can talk.

We are all Blessed!!!  Happy Fathers’ Day two days late.

Scanned Image 112480010 2

Mail00111965 Oct 11, Cali, Dad's birthday-Scotty, Jeannie, Barbara, Dad opening gifts

General Comments


 It has been almost a month since I last wrote something.  However, I have been making notes of miscellaneous thoughts.

Turning 90 – Some Things I Do No Like – But Have To Accept Anyway

Find recent suicides very distressing – what dark thoughts in the night hours when sleep is impossible take over a man’s soul…and destroy probably the most basic human instinct, that of survival.  Thoughts that destroy the will to live, but bring on instead the urge to take away the fragile, God-given spark of life.

Mind not as sharp.  Hard to grasp concept quickly. Difficult to see whole picture.

Television – Due both to deficient hearing, tendency to not be able to keep my thoughts on what is being said,  and the inability to take in an idea completely., I so often cannot understand what is being said.  I do not grasp the essence of the thought

Hearing is problem in crowds and now even in family gatherings.  I have a feeling of isolation.   People jump from subject to subject and I cannot keep up.  I sense they get tired of repeating.  I need to focus better on the conversation for once I lose concentration, it is very difficult for me to get back into the train of thought.

Civil Discourse – what has happened to civil discourse in this country??  

For example, the speaker (comedienne?) who spoke at the Washington  Press Dinner.    She was deliberately cruel, humiliating, hurtful, especially to Sarah Huckabee sitting at the main table.  She was not humorous. She was only funny to those small-minded, mean-spirited people who enjoy seeing someone else humiliated.  I have watched these Press Dinner for many years.  President Barack Obama spoke at the last one I watched.  As he made fun of colleagues, friend and foe, he evoked laughs, not sneers and tears.

Our politicians are saying outrageous things about those on the opposite of the aisle, and crying foul when they are attacked in like manner.  I know our President is one of the offenders, but this does not open the doors to others to try to outdo him.  

I have given up on Face Time, which was once a delightful place to keep up with friends. This was particularly fun for me keeping tabs on friends from overseas, with whom it is not as easy to keep in touch.  However, at some point crude, uninformed political comments took over, some with at least some background of knowledges, but most simply such dumb statements as “Betsy DeVoss is an idiot.”  Disagree with Secretary Voss and state why, but simply calling her an idiot  made that person the “idiot.”  I will not repeat the vulgar comments made by a man who went to the same school as my children.  I could only answer “I cannot believe you said this.”

How sad that today too many people find the only way to articulate their opinions is to resort to name calling, crudeness, and vulgarity.  Where has common sense and common decency gone?

Age – One positive thought  is that I an less critical and more appreciative.  I am working on the reality that I have so little control on what is going on in my life that  I need to work on my favorite mantra “Count my Blessings.”

Bits of Advice – a wise man once said, “advice is least sought and seldom accepted,” but anyway, here I go.

Be kind in all circumstances.  Remember NOT to think only of yourself and how you feel.  Relationships with within family circle, friends, church, organizations  are important  to maintain. Do not let personal hurt destroy anyone or anything, for these are more important than one person, certainly more important than you alone.  Nurture your relationships.  Preserve them.  

If you have a problem bothering you, try to talk things out, but always with civil discourse.  Never lash out at someone in the heat of emotion.  Physical cuts can heal, but words can inflict wounds that last forever !  And most likely they will  come back to hurt and haunt you sometime in the future, even more sadly when it is too late to make amends.

All parents make mistakes  No matter how hard you try to be the perfect parent, (and most likely try to be better than your parents were), you will make mistakes and live to regret them.  Be very careful with your judgement calls with parents and children.   If you must judge, then be very careful with your words.

If you do not particularly like someone, there is no need to be unkind. Certainly there is  no need to be mean.  Be civil and courteous when you must see them. But NOT judgemental.  That person or persons very possibly may not like  you either. As the Bible says, “Judge not lest ye be judged.”

Remember, you do not always have to be right.  Nor does everyone have to think like you think.  Carefully pick your battles and your priorities.  Never forget how very easy it is, quoting a wise and old saying,  to” win the battle and lose the  war.”

Final and last comment:

 After spending hours writing and editing, I lost all but a few paragraphs .  I have just rewritten , but not as well as before.  At any rate, this comes from my heart. 


Inner City Neighborhoods USA, Colombia


This is why I decided to set up my own blog page.

A very long article, but it is written from the very depths of my heart.  I hope and pray you will find time to read it.

(I am the world’s worst editor.  Please forgive any errors I have not corrected)

A heartfelt concern from over 50 years ago to now.

I feel very passionate about the many problems in our inner-city neighborhoods.  I truly think there are solutions.  These  are  difficult, complicated, time and labor consuming, expensive, but absolutely necessary .    It is tragic the brain power lost to our nation due to these inner-city problems.  Too many young people never have a chance.

The mother of Dr. Ben Carson  is admirable and exceptional.  Without her and her perseverance, this nation would have lost an exceptional neurosurgeon and a high-quality engineer.  How many exceptional people have been lost because too  many parents simply do not know how to help their children.  “They would if they could.!”

In Cali ,Colombia, I first became very aware of the loss of brain power from lack of opportunity.  We had a servant of many years who had very little schooling.  Yet, she was innately intelligent.  I taught her to cook and she became a better cook than I.  Because she concentrated and  listened, she learned enough English to be able,  when we were chatting in English,  to  interrupt and tell us in Spanish how and why we were wrong.

I am certainly aware that my suggestions are based on my 20-year involvement in a small neighborhood in the foot hills of the Andes in Cali, Colombia, South America. 

The multi-pronged problems in the US are overwhelming in comparison.   I learned this when I returned to the U.S. and volunteered in an inner-city neighborhood.

 I have written letter after letter over the years to government officials in the US on this subject with no meaningful answers.

Since returning to the States I have watched with dismay as during each election campaign the politicians on both sides of the aisle make promises.  Sadly when the election is over little is done.    

Poverty, no matter where, has certain destructive elements in common:     hunger…health …housing…education…job opportunities,…crime…drug abuse…broken families.

Why do not more people, especially our elected officials, try to get to the core of these huge problems??  To understand what is involved and look for solutions; not just more Hand Outs.     Hand-Outs destroy in time a person’s dignity, self-confidence, .  A Hand Up will in time restore dignity,  self-confidence,  self-esteem and pride. I saw this to be true in the small neighborhood in Cali, Colombia, in which I was  involved for 20 years. 

I humbly offer the following suggestions.  These are not only my thoughts but those of many with whom I have spoken on this subject since coming back to the USA.

  1. Good schools with dedicated teachers are basic, indispensable.  departments  This should include care before school and after school for working mothers.  Qualified teachers would be in charge to help children do their homework while  still at school 
  2. Give the teachers the tools they need such as number of students to a class limited , at the very most to 25 students.  Allocate money for good salaries for teachers before all else.  Then insist they do the job correctly, lovingly and with care.   
  3. Serving a breakfast, such as a high-protein drink or sandwich would help the hungry children to concentrate better.  
  4. Schools in these area have to be aware of illness, learning disabilities, abuse, and other similar problems, and have staff to work with these special children.     When I volunteered in the US to help teach children to read, too many children were unable to sit still long enough to listen for more than a few pages. Volunteers were given no instructions how to best handle this situation.
  5.  Health is a big part in redoing the inner city area.  Walk-in clinics are needed, staffed with competent people to diagnose and treat minor illnesses and send the seriously ill or seriously injured to a hospital, via 911.    Ideally this clinic would include not only an MD and office secretary, but a dentist.  Perhaps a nurse practitioner every day and then a doctor and a dentist on specific days.  Offer drug abuse education – not only how to get off and how to never start.
  6. Educate the parents:                                                                                                               A. Teach parents how they can help their children at home with homework. B. Give parents lessons on nutrition, preparing inexpensive foods 

    C. Give parents lessons on birth control, family responsibility.  Perhaps the            neighborhood Church can help with this.

      D. Teach parents how to keep a clean house, family hygiene.

        E. Program for teachers and parents to work together for good of children.

        F. Find a trade that single mothers can do at home to add to family income.

  7. Open a trade school in the area to teach skills:  plumbing, welding, electrician, painting, construction.  Be sure they are taught a trade which is hiring in the area. Help students find jobs after finishing school
  8.  Convince small or large businesses to move their business to this area to provide employment.   
  9. . Encourage family and community gardens.10.
  10.  Set up small grocery stores in each neighborhood, with prices controlled. Allow residents to purchase food, both perishable and non-perishable, at super market prices.
  11.   Make landlords provide adequate, safe, and healthy housing, with needed appliances and bug-free.  From the stories told by children at US school where I volunteered, housing is a huge problem.  12.
  12.   Each neighborhood needs a community center  where children and  families can participate in sports programs, lessons for parents such as cooking or sewing, games such as chess. A YMCA, YWCA or something similar.  Many years ago my husband along with Colgate Palmolive built the first public sports park in Cali.  This was a great success in changing the habits of the neighborhood for the better;  thus Colgate built two more sports parks in other inner-city neighborhoods and then a Colombian agency took over and built similar parks in others parts of Colombia.
  13. Police security obviously would be difficult, especially at first, but is always essential 


    My experience working in an inner-city neighborhood in Cali, Colombia  — Trinity School


          In 1966, when I was living in Cali, Colombia, South America, another mother and I would watch each day as our well-fed, well-dressed children got on their school bus.    At the same time children from an extremely poor neighborhood, called Bella Vista,  which abutted our neighborhood , Arboleda,  would start their daily trek down the mountain.   They would stop to go through garbage pails for  whatever food they could find.  When they reached our house, they would watch with sad eyes our children got on the school bus.  These children, some as young as four, were on their way to the center of town to spend their day begging.  It was heartbreaking.  We  decided we had to do something .

         There was no school in the area, nor medical facilities,  not even a church.  On the Cali city map, it was designated as a black zone, a neighborhood of squatters.

        Trinity Episcopal Church was a few blocks away from the beginning of Bella Vista.  We went there to seek other church members to join us and make a plan of how best we could truly make a difference in this very poor area, .

       We realized that initially the main group we wanted to help was the children.   We met with the board of Trinity Church for  permission to use the building during the week for a school.  A decision was made to start with first grade only.  The husband of a member, Carlos Salgado, volunteered to pay the teachers’ salaries and continued to do so as we added more grades.     

         But before starting the school, we realized we had to know BellaVista and its inhabitants, to understand their wants and needs.  We enlisted volunteers, who were fluent in Spanish, from the American school in Cali to  help us visit each home.  Security precautions were taken.  Students went in groups of two or three with a standard questionnaire.  We were delighted with the positive response from the parents. We had been concerned that perhaps they would prefer their children spend their days begging to help the family.

         We then invited the parents to come to the church for an orientation meeting in order to carefully explain what we were planning and what we hopped to accomplish.  This was such a success that from then on we held various parents’ meetings to discuss matters as they come up.

     At one meeting we discussed health problems and hygiene.  On our visits to Bella Vista we found housing to be deficient.  One family lived-in a lean-to and one in an abandoned house.  Most had dirt floors and water had to be carried from a well.  We installed showers at the school for the children. They had to bathe and wash hair once a week.  Colgate supplied us with toothpaste  and toothbrushes for daily dental hygiene.

          Another meeting had to do with family gardens during which we encouraged parents to take  part.  An agriculture expert from the US AID  brought seeds and taught elements of gardening.  This later involved giving them seeds for sweet corn, which, once grown,  the parents would bring to the church on Sundays to sell.  

          A cooking meeting taught the ladies how to prepare inexpensive but nutritious food.

          Family responsibility both male and female was discussed.  We always brought in experts when necessary.  In the case of birth control,  we invited our Colombian female friends to handle the meeting, and to encourage the men to support their wives.

         Children had dental problems and we arranged for them to be taken to a dentist.  Later on, a wonderful woman dentist, Dr. Maria Helena Feldsberg,  volunteered to come to the school one day a week to take care of these dental problem.

         We discovered two other basic health problems which we treated, with medical advice, at the  school. One was worms, and the other was lice.  Our teachers were outstanding in many ways, especially in the handling of the worm medicine and the lice.  On weekends, the Episcopal priest, his wife, or one of the board members would administer the annual deworming medicine.  Two particularly active priests were Fathers George Estes, and Canon Richard Hardman and their families. 

       I do not know how the Macrame purse project began.  I remember the leader was a marvelous woman who lived across from the school.  This became a good income for the women.  They became expert and wonderfully creative.  Through a  contact in the US we exported all the bags they could make, with all the profits going to the women who made the purses.  


         September, 1966, Trinity School was open for  business.  We used sheets of thick plywood with wooden horses for support as  desks for each grade.  Dottie Uribe was our in-house, college-graduate dietician.   Eggs and oranges were donated for breakfast.   Wish I could remember the generous people who gave these.   We also had guava bars which were a favorite of everyone, sweet and highly nutritious.!  We had a kitchen at the church and the caretakers prepared the eggs each morning.  

         Each year as planned, we added a grade.  At the end of the first year, we had a surplus from donations given.  My husband became our bank for the next two years, paying us the going interest rate.  We received generous donations from many sources:  Colombian individuals, Colombian and US  businesses, individuals from the international community.  Thus, we were able at the end of our third year of operation to form a Foundation to insure the school’s future.  We were very careful to document every “centavo” we spent.  This was important to donors; also to the Colombian government when we applied for certification, which allowed our top students to go on to secondary school.    

          Trinity School is still functioning better than ever today.  From the beginning, we hired only highly recommended teachers and paid above the going rate. From our original dedicated teachers of 5 in 1966, the last two resigned in 2015.  

          Children of the original volunteer group  grew up.  They took over where their parents left off  and did more than we had ever visioned . Today, Carla Uribe and her husband Manuel Ravassa keep the school going with a board of directors.  Manuel’s family donated land for a Trinity School building in Bella Vista.  My son, Scott Jeffery Jr., had returned to Colombia at that time and was involved along with the Uribe Ravassa family and many others in the building of a beautiful new school.  “As the twig is bent, the tree will grow.”  Trinity School has come a long way from the basement of Trinity Church.  The school today even has a computer room, and small symphony.   

           We started with the children, but we really did change the neighborhood 

       We have a nice list of success stories  about our graduates.    Trinity School is still supported by the same groups who supported the school from the beginning, with many additional donors.   Individuals who once lived in Cali still send donations.

         With many dedicated people, paid staff and volunteers, IT CAN BE DONE


    Thomas Grady Cousins (born December 1931) is a real estate developer, sports supporter and philanthropist, primarily based in Atlanta, Georgia.  Cousins was a leader in shaping the skyline in Atlanta, and he purchased and brought the Atlanta Hawks to the city.

Cousins is also known for his community redevelopment and his desire to help to           help local neighborhoods.  In 1995 he purchased the historic East Lake Golf Club with the intent that its profits would go back to help the local East Lake community.  Cousin’s model of community redeveloment is now being implemented in other cities in the US through a program he founded to replicate the East Lake model called Purpose Built Communities.  

Cousins graduated with a Bachelor of Business Administration in 1952 from the Terry College of Business at the University of Georgia.  During the 1960s Tom Cousins moved from real-estate to property development and sports franchising

He developed buildings such as the CNN Center, the Omni Coliseum, 191 Peachtree Tower, the Pinnacle Building in Buckhead and the first phase of the Georgia World Congress Center.  He and competitor John Portman completely remade downtown Atlanta in the 1960 and 1980s

He also helped revive and redesign the  home course of golfing great Bobby Jones, East Lake Golf Club, which had fallen into disrepair.  He hired Rees Jones (no relation to Bobby) to redesign the golf course, which has since hosted the PGA Tour’s  Tour Championship several times and become one of the leading golf courses in Atlanta. Cousins and his family financed the project to the tune of about $25 million.  This was part of a greater revitalization of the East Lake Meadows housing project in the East Lake neighborhood around the golf course.

In 1995 Cousins  founded the East Lake Foundation in Atlanta.  The Foundation partnered with the Atlanta Housing Authority to build a mixed-income apartment block in a local low-income area with a high crime rate and put additional resources into education options and job provisions for the tenants.  Columnist Leonard Pitts Jr. noted that these changes saw “violent crime down 96 percent” and “78 percent of kids passing the state math test when only 5 percent could do it before.”

Based on the results of the East Lake Foundation project, Cousins, with partner Warren Buffet, created Purpose Built Communities, an organization focused on supporting other communities working to replicate the successful community development seen in Atlanta.  Purpose Build Communities currently partners with 13 other communities in the United States.


I continue to ask myself why do very successful families, among the white, the black, and the Latino people not step up as Tom Cousins did and attack this problem in their own inner-city areas??  I particularly mention the black community, since a high percentage of black people are trapped in these inner-city neighborhoods.

Why do not our politicians stop with the Hand Outs,  and truly  work to improve these crime ridden areas.  The statistics about murders in New York City, Chicago, and Los Angeles, just to mention a few cities are heartbreaking!!

I hope, dear reader, you are still with me.  I hope you will share this with others who might carry this message along to our politicians and perhaps, just perhaps, more will be done to help the impoverished utilize their God-given talents to better themselves and those around them.