This place that many call paradise, is a feast for the senses.
The tropical sounds of wind in the palms and unfamiliar birds mix with the din of electric sanders and a table saw. Rather than a smell of coconut oil on the beach, we can smell sawdust and adhesive used to create a laminate counter top. And though there’s a clear blue body of water near by, no one is jumping in to cool off. Not yet anyway. Instead, highly skilled volunteers work alongside others with only a hint of construction experience. They sense progress in their work for a variety organizations and individuals in need.
One project is to construct 32 sturdy wooden shelves to hold educational materials in classrooms and offices. After cutting, assembling and sanding the local pine lumber, the shelves were coated with several coats of fast drying enamel paint to protect them from the extreme humidity of the island.
“Very few people here know how to build these types of things or have access to the needed tools,” said Karen, a local resident and member of the FOC leadership team. “Using the talents of these volunteers, we’re are able to custom design things that fit specific needs and spaces.”
The finished shelves will be installed at the CAM schools (Centro de Atencion Multiple), CRIM (Centro de Rehabilitación Integración Municipal), and Centro de Autismo—all organizations that provide education and therapy for children and adults with disabilities in Cozumel.
“There’s a need for higher quality and more substantial materials than what is available to people here,” said Byron, a volunteer from Texas and a member of the FOC leadership team. “’They don’t have funding to buy these things and we can provide them with something that will give them good use for a long time.”
Byron is also working on an individual woodworking project of a custom designed table-top lectern and offertory box for Vida Abundante church. Hours and hours have gone into the project.
“Why do this? I guess you could look at the theological side,” said Byron. “In Matthew it says to let your light shine before others so that they can see your good works and glorify God.”
Volunteers will continue their construction work on projects such as a sensory therapy board. Children at Corazones Unidos will use the board to feel various shapes and textures—perhaps creating their own sense of progress.
“He who works with his hands is a laborer. He who works with his hands and his head is a craftsman. He who works with his hands and his head and his heart is an artist.” ~ St. Francis of Assisi