Painting the Salon Comunal!

On Thursday, June 24, over 40 volunteers and community members came together to paint the Playa Potrero Community Center. All together, there were 10 Abriendo Mentes team members and A.M. volunteers from Massachusetts, Florida, and Michigan, a tour group of 10 arranged through M.I.T., and over 20 Playa Potrero community members and Abriendo Mentes students. It was a long day of hard work, but very rewarding to see such a huge improvement. We still can’t put into words how thrilled we are that we have finally accomplished one of our main goals for the 2010 Abriendo Mentes year!

The day started at 7am, with only a few setbacks (“how do we open these 5 gallon paint buckets?” and “hmm… stirring paint, didn’t realize how important that part was”). But by 8am we were spread around the Salon, everyone with a brush, roller or sponge, paint tray or make shift paint tray in hand. I think I often underestimate how simple concept of team work is, but how it can have such a grand impact. The synergy created between 40+ people working together was amazing. In less than one hour, we had covered over 400 square feet of wall space. As the day continued on, the work pace slowed a bit for practical reasons. We were getting tired, it was getting hot(ter), and we had covered the bottom section of the Salon, leaving the top beams, which were only accessible by ladder. Making it even more challenging, these hard to reach beams were un-treated concrete, which sucked up paint and made for a very tired arm. 8am turned to noon, when our wonderful M.I.T volunteers had to head back to Flamingo for lunch (thank you so much to all of you!!). We powered on from noon until after 5pm, through A.M. classes which we took turns teaching between painting stints. Final touches were finished on Friday and then we celebrated. Now, thanks to the great effort of 40 dedicated, giving people, the town has a fresh, newly painted community center! We cannot thank everyone enough for their generous gift of time and hard work. I stepped back and took a look at the masterpiece at the end of the day on Friday, and tears came to my eyes. This was partially because I was very tired, but mostly because I was thinking of the diverse group of people who joined together to accomplish such a daunting task. Everyone from a middle-aged Nicaraguan immigrant women, a wonderful Costa Rican mother and her 6 year old son, a mid-20’s couple from Michigan, devoting two months of their summer to service work in Costa Rica, a mid-30’s Geology Professor at M.I.T and a mother and daughter from Tampa, Florida. This was a group who realized that a dedicated team of people working hard together can accomplish great things. I know they will spread this sentiment throughout their travels and experiences; everyone can make an impact, and every effort counts. Muchisimas Gracias!

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