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Cheryl Vaughan was born and raised in Michigan, and moved to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico in 1995. After visiting Sayulita and buying a second home here, she moved to Sayulita permanently in 2000. She was actively involved in Pro Sayulita, serving as treasurer for 7 years and was also a board member for 3 years. She has also volunteered her time teaching English at the public primary school, as well as to the police and emergency response teams in Sayulita.
How did you get involved with Pro Sayulita? What about teaching English?
I got involved with Pro Sayulita first as a volunteer working with the education group. That was when we were fundraising to build the new classrooms, fix the electricity, and install fans. Just after that I was asked to help out as treasurer, at least until a new one could be elected, as the then current one was moving. Once I started, I never looked back. It was fun to be so involved in the community. Teaching English was a natural for me. As a former educator, I wanted to work with the children and found that there were many more that wanted to do that too. It was so fun and rewarding. A quick story...I was in a store just recently and talking with a young woman. Her English was so good that I asked her where she learned it. From you, in the English classes, she replied. I then recognized her and felt so good to know that our work continues on. I started the English program working with the police, fire fighters and EMTs. Once started, the volunteers took over and this program was very successful.
How does Pro Sayulita make a difference in the community?
I have seen so many changes in Sayulita in the past 20 years or so, and Pro Sayulita has been involved in all of them, it seems. From having packs of dogs roaming the streets, to piles of trash sitting on street corners, the changes that have happened because of the countless volunteer hours are impressive to me. The water treatment plant, the daily beach clean ups, the English programs, computer labs in the public schools, and a library at the elementary school are all examples. The list just goes on and on.
What motivates you to continue to try to make a positive impact in Sayulita?
The motivation comes from wanting to give back. I have received so much from living in Sayulita that I feel the need to reciprocate in some way. You don't often get a reward when you are a volunteer. They are the unsung heroes, these people who I have had the privilege to work with over the years and who have become my friends. They motivate and inspire me and my life is richer because of them. You know who you are!
What are you most proud of in your volunteering endeavors?
The one thing that really stands out in my mind is when we were teaching English at the elementary school. With over 40 volunteers and 50 students studying 4 days a week...it was amazing.
You recently stepped down from the Pro Sayulita board. Where do you plan to concentrate your efforts next?
I’m not yet sure what I will do next. I love working with the children and also the animals, so that may be my next volunteer passion.
What have you gained from your involvement in giving back to the community?
I feel good inside knowing that I have not just come to a different country to make a fabulous life for myself without giving back. The real plus of volunteering is the friends that you make and the inner satisfaction of knowing that together you have done a great job.
How can others give back to the community?
There is something here for everyone, whatever their passion is. If you can't find an effort or organization to join, then you can start something yourself. You can gather like-minded people, raise awareness, and jump in. I wasn't in Sayulita for Semana Santa, but watching what a group can do to make positive changes was so inspiring! Great job JXMP...and a wonderful example for us all!