Scottsdale nonprofit provides matching funds to assist volunteer effort in Mexico

Phil Tirone helps a barrio family. The Phoenix-area resident recently brought 40 people with him to volunteer in Mexico. (Submitted photo)

The Dorrance Family Foundation of Scottsdale has issued a $300,000 matching funds grant to Rancho Feliz for the construction of its volunteer dormitory in Agua Prieta, Sonora, on the U.S./Mexico border.

By supporting the $300,000 matching grant challenge, donors will empower U.S. and Mexican volunteers to be housed together at the same time as they build homes, distribute food and care for children and seniors in the area’s slums, fostering cross-cultural service experiences, according to a release.

“Rancho Feliz is honored The Dorrance Family Foundation is investing in our vision of changing the world by changing consciousness,” stated 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.”

(Submitted artist’s rendering)

In April 2018, Rancho Feliz, a volunteer-based Scottsdale nonprofit, broke ground on “La Hacienda Feliz,” a $1.35 million, 20-room, 10,215-square-foot dorm to house up to 70 volunteers at a time (1,500 volunteer visits a year). Phase I completion is estimated on Thursday, Dec. 20.

To date, Rancho Feliz has raised $750,000 of its $1.35 million goal. Once the $300,000 Dorrance grant is matched, the project will be funded in full, according to the release. Donors of $25,000 or more will be recognized on a brass plaque in the dormitory.

“The Dorrance Family Foundation has been involved with Rancho Feliz for over 20 years. Their unique reciprocal giving philosophy resonates with our own,” stated Jacquie Dorrance.

“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 wholeheartedly support.”

Rancho Feliz has worked in Agua Prieta, Mexico, which is about 230 miles south of Phoenix, for 31 years.

Rancho Feliz’s volunteer program has outgrown its existing nearby 4,000-square-foot, 11-room dorm. It has played host to more than 22,000 student volunteers from across the United States and Canada.

“Volunteers have built more than 800 homes housing 3,200 displaced people, distributed more than 355 tons of food providing 4.1 million meals to the hungry, funded hundreds of grade school, high school and university scholarships, cared for children and seniors and forged a bridge of respect and friendship between the U.S. and Mexico,” the release stated. “The new, larger dormitory will allow Rancho Feliz to continue to grow.”

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