Prescott-Suchitoto Sister City Committee members are jumping into 2010 with great plans.
Committee members met at the Prescott Police Station Conference Room Wednesday night to elect new officers, finalize fundraising strategies for the March 6 Mardi Gras Fundraising Auction at Prescott's Manzanita Grille and share updates on strides being made to enhance foreign relations with a tragedy-struck community looking to Prescott to get back on its feet.
"Lifeline Ambulance has donated an ambulance to help the Suchitoto community that should be ready for me and Bill Makela to drive down to El Salvador sometime between the 10th and 15th (next month)," explained Bob Greninger, a volunteer who has steered both the Suchitoto group and Prescott-Caborca, Mexico Sister City Organization toward admirable philanthropic accomplishments.
"They've promised another ambulance to go to Caborca in another month or so, too," Greninger said. "We have a great mayor who has really helped get this going and supports so many of our efforts underway. We're really quite fortunate."
Things got off to a bit of a rough start with the launching of the Prescott-Suchitoto Sister City Committee a couple years ago when the mayor who replaced Rowle Simmons chose not to embrace the new sister city and initially refused to meet with El Salvador Honorary Consul Enrique Melendez to accept his credentials and continue the diplomatic work Simmons had launched.
But those days are not spoken of lately, as Melendez and committee members have too much work underway to worry about spilled milk, so to say.
They began their meeting Wednesday night with a pledge of allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, then introduced Prescott High School sophomore Jennifer Leja, the PHS Spanish Club President who just happens to be a Girl Scout working on her Gold Award, the equivalent of the Boy Scouts of America Eagle Scout Award,.
"I want to help this group and the Caborca Sister City Group to help others," Leja announced. "I need to be in a leadership role to help with a project that will serve others for years to come to earn my award."
The group embraced her offer and suggested she start with initiating a pen pal program opening dialogue between Suchitoto and Caborca students with Prescott students wishing to learn more about how other youngsters deal with life on a daily basis.
Other potential ideas aimed at encouraging student growth on a foreign level included launching a website for the Prescott-Suchitoto Sister City relationship, scholarships for a student exchange program down the road, and assisting with the auction to raise money for the Prescott Park being built in the earthquake- and war-devastated City of Suchitoto, among other things.
Suchitoto residents currently have no public park for families to gather in or children to play in but Prescott residents have stepped up to the plate to help Suchitoto's local and federal government change this.
Prescottonians have given in many ways over the past year to help this dream come to fruition.
Members of the Prescott-Suchitoto Committee raised $10.000 for the park to be built, the Prescott Rotary Club donated another $4,000 and the Suchitoto municipal leaders and federal government are kicking in a base of $30,000 to get the work underway.
Additionally, Prescott Councilwoman Tammy Linn spearheaded an effort to motivate local school children to paint tiles at Ace's Pottery Paintin' Place at 404 W. Goodwin Street in Prescott to be created into a kaleidoscope entryway arch to the park.
Greninger reported at Wednesday's meeting that although the project scheduled to launch last summer was postponed due to El Salvadoran elections, it has more money pumped into it now and is moving forward in the next month at a grander scale in terms of playground facilities than originally planned.
Given the local, national and international economic challenges at hand, this project is considered to be monumental by many at the local and El Salvadoran levels.
Recently appointed Suchitoto Mayor Javier Martinez is looking forward to visiting the Prescott community this year to meet with those who have helped make this endeavor possible; check out the tourist highlights this community has to offer, and look into economic development opportunities, Melendez reports.