The Dorrance Family Foundation of Scottsdale has issued a $300,000 matching funds grant to Rancho Feliz for the construction of its new La Hacienda Feliz volunteer dormitory in Agua Prieta, Sonora, on the U.S./Mexico border, 230 miles south of Phoenix. By supporting the $300,000 matching grant challenge, donors will enable U.S. and Mexican volunteers to be housed together as they build homes, distribute food and care for children and seniors in the area’s slums, fostering cross-cultural service experiences.
“Rancho Feliz is honored The Dorrance Family Foundation is investing in our vision of changing the world by changing consciousness,” says Gil Gillenwater, Rancho Feliz founder and president. “In today’s political climate, we believe it is critical to foster cross-cultural service experiences, helping us to better understand each other. In our new dorm, American and Mexican volunteers will live and serve the community together. This exchange experience will break down the walls of thought that separate us.”
In April 2018, Rancho Feliz, a volunteer-based Scottsdale nonprofit, broke ground on La Hacienda Feliz. The $1.35 million, 20-roomed, 10,215-square-foot dorm will house up to 70 volunteers at a time. To date, the organization has raised $750,000 of its $1.35 million goal. When the $300,000 Dorrance grant has been matched, the project will be funded in full.
“The Dorrance Family Foundation has been involved with Rancho Feliz for over 20 years. Their unique reciprocal giving philosophy resonates with our own. Serving others imbues our lives with purpose, making us better people. Empowering and connecting the human family on both sides of the U.S./Mexican border is an effort we whole-heartedly support,” Jacquie Dorrance says.
Rancho Feliz has worked in Agua Prieta, Mexico, for 31 years. Early on, the organization recognized two very real types of poverty.
The obvious: The material poverty of a border town foundering under the weight of a weakening peso and bloated barrios. Here the average wage is $8 per day, yet the cost of goods is 80 percent of that in Scottsdale.
The not so obvious but equally insidious: A spiritual poverty. The privileged in America live in unprecedented affluence. For children and young adults, this presents a unique challenge. With no relevancy, their opportunity-laden lives are often taken for granted.
Rancho Feliz realized that often the privileged and the underprivileged were – paradoxically – dealing with the same negative symptoms, just on opposite ends of the socio-economic spectrum. In response, in 1998 Rancho Feliz created an innovative volunteer program that addresses these circumstances and works for the benefit of all. It is an interactive program that allows both groups to simultaneously be donors and recipients, thereby feeding and thriving off of one another. Rancho Feliz calls this “reciprocal giving.” Givers become receivers and receivers become givers.