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Janice Parker lives in Vancouver, British Columbia, in the summer months and spends the winter and spring in Sayulita. Her and her husband, Tom, have now called Sayulita home for the past six seasons. Janice first became involved with Pro Sayulita in December, 2012, her second season in Sayulita, and has been very instrumental in working to increase beach safety.
How did you get involved with Pro Sayulita?
I became involved by default after questioning the group at a meeting in the Casa de la Cultura. I wanted to know why we didn’t have lifeguards and warning signs on the Northside beach, the Northside being the most treacherous of all the beaches in Sayulita. No one seemed to have any answers. Jack Jones (current President of Pro Sayulita) told me since I was so passionate about the subject, I should find out why. Later on, I was recruited to work on the annual fiesta. This season will be my 4th season running the live auction. Our fiesta raises considerable funds and accounts for about 50% of our annual budget. Two seasons ago, we raised enough money to buy three rescue boards, in a separate initiative, the night of the fiesta. This enabled us to finally have lifeguards on the Northside. Last season, we raised considerable funds in a pledge program targeted specifically at beach safety.
How does Pro Sayulita make a difference in Sayulita?
Pro Sayulita supports MANY initiatives in Sayulita. Beach safety is only one of them. Over the 11 years the organization has been in business, Pro Sayulita has worked to provide real on-the-ground support for the local police, ambulance and the fire department. We also support the Transito police to help decrease traffic saturation. We support refuse collection. We provide administrative support for the Vigilantes Profepa, a unique group that identifies environmental violations on the water and land. We fund and operate a recycling center, support Eco Sayulita and conduct water testing on a regular basis. We support the Public Health Clinic (Salud), the Primaria (primary school). We partner with SayulitAnimals and help raise funds for regular spay and neuter clinics and also contribute funds to the Campamento Tortuguero Sayulita, a sea turtle rescue and release program.
What motivates you to continue to try to make a positive impact in Sayulita?
For me, working on the beach safety program is a moral obligation. I have been very fortunate in my life and want to do something to give back. I know I can’t save everyone, but the least I can do is try to warn people of the dangers on this beach and to have Authorities on the beach to enforce the rules.
What changes would you like to see in Pro Sayulita?
We need more youth in our volunteer group. There are many business owners and residents in their 30's and 40's who don't participate in Pro Sayulita. They are the future of this village and their input would be greatly valued.
What role do you play?
Regarding beach safety, I consult with Brian Singleton, who is the regional representative of Firefighters Crossing Borders. Together, we work with Proteccion Civil on both lifeguard and volunteer water rescue trainings, warning signs and lifeguard tower maintenance. I have also run the live auction at the annual fiesta for the past four seasons.
What have you gained from your involvement with this group?
That’s a very good question! Most of all, I have gained many new friends. I am grateful for the support they have given me. I have learned a lot about the ocean and the power it possesses. I have also learned that no matter how much one tries, you cannot save everyone.
What positive changes have you seen brought about by your efforts? What are you most proud of?
I am proud of the many rescues that have been performed by both the lifeguards and the many volunteers we have on all our beaches. The water rescue training sessions have been successful in teaching safety skills to many of the local surfers, which in turn keeps both them and their rescue victims safe and out of harm’s way.
What additional change(s) would you like to see in the future and what are you doing to make this happen?
Most importantly, we need signage and a new lifeguard tower on the Northside beach. This is all in the hands of Proteccion Civil now. We have presented them with graphics for three different warning signs, depending on where they are installed. We have also given them plans for a “portable” lifeguard tower that can be moved up from the shoreline in storm season. I would like to see the lifeguard tower in town moved away from Capitan Pablo’s and situated in the area where all the rescues happen. This has been brought to the attention of Proteccion Civil as well.
How can others help?
I urge all homeowners with rental suites to go to our website and download the RipTide Toolkit. This should be printed and left in all rental suites to warn guests of the dangers on this beach.
I would also like to see more people volunteering to help run the fiesta this season. Anyone wishing to help out can join us at our Wednesday meetings at noon at River Café.
And of course, encourage everyone to buy their Fiesta Tickets early and join us to celebrate at the biggest social event of the season!