Cathy Gonzalez, a waitress at Chinooks Waterfront Restaurant, and co-owner of Log Cabin Dreaming Bed and Breakfast in Old Mill Subdivision will leave for a humanitarian mission trip to Fiji Saturday, October 12 . She wishes to thank everyone who helped make the trip possible. About 120 people attended the Swinefest gathering at Chinooks last Saturday and helped her raise $6,500 through ticket sales and the silent auction, which brought in $2,500 of the total.
“I would like to give a very special thank you to Lori and Dan and the Chinooks crew, as this trip would not be possible without their generous donation!,” she said. “It is not often you find business owners willing to cover all of the overhead cost, so that all of the proceeds could go to the charity. I am forever grateful to them. I am humbled and thankful by the overwhelming support I received from our little community. So many people gave from their hearts, donating items for the silent auction, purchasing tickets (even if they could not attend), and donating much need supplies for the people of Fiji.”
The Naquaga Giving Foundation (NGF), the not-for-profit charitable foundation she is volunteering for, will donate the remaining $4,500 toward her “2013 Immersion” experience. Cathy and husband Ramon’s daughter Jasmine Van Driessche, and son-in-law Jared from Los Angeles also are there volunteering.
NGF has provided health, infrastructure, and educational assistance to the communities of Fiji’s remote northern islands, and southern Africa since 2004. Its focus is on strengthening villages, and providing the locals with resources they need to improve their own lives. It has no religious affiliation.
While there helping the rural women, Gonzales also will be taking a week-long boat expedition to some of the most remote islands in Fijii, bringing donated multivitamins, pre-natal vitamins, tooth brushes, reading glasses, and medical supplies. While on the expedition, volunteers interview elderly villagers, and create oral history reports from them thus helping to preserve Fijian traditions.
Most Americans view Fiji as a beautiful vacation destination, but below the surface there is also incredible need in Fiji, Gonzalez said. More than a third of the islanders live in poverty, often lacking education, medical care, and other basic necessities. Along with a downturn in their only industry, tourism, Fiji suffered a devastating hurricane in 2010 that destroyed homes and crops.
“Although our family will be in Fiji physically, it is the community of Seward and others that will be there spiritually, as it with their help that this much needed humanitarian trip is possible,” she said.”I leave for Fiji on Sat, 10/12 with a heart full of the love and kindness I received, and will spread it throughout the Fijian Islands!”