SEQUIM – One winter morning nine years ago, Steve Gilchrist and a group of friends made breakfast and kept the coffee coming. He remembers a meeting that went well: people ate, sipped, relaxed and chatted together.
Yes, breakfast – back at Macleay Hall this Sunday morning – is a fundraiser for the Sequim-based Mujeres de Maiz Opportunity Foundation, but Gilchrist thinks it’s something more.
This first one did not raise a huge sum of money. But the guests, he said this week, “lingered over their coffee, visiting people they didn’t know before they arrived, sometimes for an hour or more.” So maybe, Gilchrist said, “we had created a sense of community with our meal.”
The event, known simply as the Mexican Breakfast, brings together tortillas, scrambled eggs and cheese, black beans and tomato-chili salsa as well as orange slices to further liven up the plate.
Volunteers prepare and serve meals and pour tea and coffee from Raven’s Brew, the Alaska-based roaster that donates its coffee every year.
Everyone is invited to breakfast from 8:30 a.m. to noon Sunday at Macleay Hall, 290 Macleay Road, off the Old Olympic Highway, about 5 miles west of downtown Sequim.
Admission is a suggested donation of $ 12 at the door, the proceeds of which support Mujeres Foundation scholarships and programs for women and their families in rural Mexico.
Mujeres de Maiz co-founder Judith Pasco will be present with a selection of handmade shawls and handbags from Chiapas, Mexico’s southernmost state.
The foundation is named Mujeres de Maiz, in Spanish for Corn Women, in honor of the women of Chiapas and the staple food of Mexico.
Much like a small farm, the non-profit organization has flourished over the years.
It all started with a scholarship for a girl in 2006. Today, 18 girls and young women attend high school and university thanks to the Mujeres scholarships.
At the same time, the Mujeres board of directors – residents of Gilchrist, Pasco and Sequim Martha Rudersdorf, Cathy Van Ruhan and Kathy Purcell – are partnering with local women in Chiapas to set up enrichment programs for women. children on weekends.
Scholarship students run these programs, covering academic and life skills for young people from the villages of Zinacantán, Crucero, Yajalón, Las Ollas, Ocosingo and Naranjal.
During the Mexican Sunday Breakfast, Pasco and his team will be on hand to talk about Mujeres de Maiz with anyone who is interested. They also have news from the latest project: mini-libraries for enrichment programs. Mujeres helps fund collections of 10 to 20 books chosen by local program officials.
This has been Mujeres’ way of working from the start: working with the women of Chiapas rather than prescribing them.
Pasco and other council members periodically visit the state capital, San Cristobal de las Casas, and its surrounding towns, visiting scholarship students and participating in enrichment programs.
It has become clear, said Pasco, that when women are supported to continue their education, they in turn share this educational wealth with their hometown.
“It might be difficult for us here in the Northwest to relate to the issues of indigenous women and girls in southern Mexico,” added Gilchrist.
“But once you have visited this region and seen for yourself the difficult life they lead and the obstacles they face, you realize that it doesn’t take much to give them a helping hand. life changing ”, in the form of a scholarship.
Since Mujeres began, the recipients have graduated and continued to work in their communities, showing their younger neighbors what is possible.
You will find more information on these activities on MujeresdeMaizOF.org and writing to Mujeres de Maiz Opportunity Foundation, PO Box 1954, Sequim, WA 98382.
Meanwhile, Gilchrist and Pasco say Sunday lunch is a delicious way to connect with neighbors in Sequim and the surrounding area.
“People have asked us after having breakfast, ‘Where can I find this in town? »What restaurant serves that? Well, this is an original recipe and as far as I know that will be the only place you can get it, ”Gilchrist joked.
“I’m going to cook the sauce and the beans and a pot of coffee started at 6:30 am Sunday morning.”
Diane Urbani de la Paz, former editor-in-chief of the Peninsula Daily News, is a freelance writer living in Port Townsend.