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ROSARITO BEACH - Mariachi and Folklorico Festival Outcome

The first Mariachi and Folklorico Festival began Oct. 1 with an opening ceremony in the Salon Cielo, Sky Room, of the iconic Rosarito Beach Hotel, Mexico. Diocese of San Diego Bishop James R. Mathes attended as an honored guest and representative of the greater San Diego community.
All proceeds from the weekend festival, intended to become an annual event, were donated to the Club de Niños y Niñas, modeled after the Boys and Girls Club in the United States, which provides after school centers for kids at risk of turning to the streets and gangs.

"I'm so glad to be with you tonight to celebrate this first festival," said Mathes as he prepared to give the benediction and cut the ribbon alongside Rosarito Mayor Hugo Torres and Edna Perez, congresswoman of Baja California.

During the weekend, eight mariachi and folk dancing groups from middle schools, high schools and colleges in Chula Vista, Los Angeles, Anaheim and Tucson competed against eight mariachi and dance groups from Tijuana, Rosarito Beach, Mexicali and San Luis Rio Colorado.

Colorful outfits, violins, trumpets and voices graced the stage nestled in the oceanfront gardens of the Rosarito Beach Hotel, a mere 25 minutes from the international border. The main attraction was the first all-female mariachi band, the Mariachi Divas, which won a Grammy Award in 2009. Other artists included Timoteo El Charro Negro, Olga Flores, pre-teen singer Maya, the Iztaccihuatl folkloric ballet, Génesis and Beto Jiménez Maeda.

Children from Dorcas House, the foster home supported by congregations throughout the Episcopal Diocese of San Diego, attended the opening ceremony. Rosy Torres, president of the Boys and Girls Club, gave a brand new guitar to one of the Dorcas House boys as a token of friendship and support.

The bishop's opening remarks were met with spontaneous applause when he said, "In our church when we baptize a new person, we ask the parents and godparents to make promises for the children to live into as they grow up. One of the things we ask is, 'will you strive for justice and peace among all people and respect the dignity of every human being?' This Boys and Girls Club that you are building here is all about respecting the dignity of every human being."

The Rosarito Club de Niños y Niñas will work with children through sports, computer studies, art and academic advising.

As he prayed, Mathes asked a blessing on "all the souls that live in Rosarito, especially the boys and girls and those who will find hope, meaning and purpose in their life through the Boys and Girls Club of Rosarito."

Mayor Torres is known for his work in public safety and cleaning up the police force; Rosarito crime is lower than it has been in the past 10 years.

"At the same time as we fight criminals, we have to focus on prevention," Torres said. "One of our big efforts is to educate children, instill family values, love for their country and prepare them to be good citizens. In Rosarito, we have many children who have no parents at home because both parents work, or mothers are raising the children alone. We want to get these children off the streets. With the Boys and Girls Club, 350 children will be served by the morning program and 350 will be served by the afternoon program."

Torres owns the Rosarito Beach Hotel; over the past 20 years, he has donated to U.S. Boys and Girls Clubs. "I give two or three nights at our hotel as a silent auction item. Although the clubs are not in Mexico, they are for the children. Many of the children being served by those clubs are of Mexican origin."

"It was a great honor to have Bishop Mathes with us tonight," said Torres, who explained that when he began his tenure as mayor, one of the first things he did was visit all the churches in the city and ask for their prayers. He attributes his success and his safety to those prayers.

"We feel this project is stronger because we have the support of Bishop Mathes and our friends in the Diocese of San Diego. His presence gives us moral support and helps bridge the two communities. We have a symbiotic relationship with San Diego. What's good for Baja California is good for San Diego and vice versa. If Baja California is safe, San Diego will also be safe. It's all connected. The ocean and the air -- they move freely. There's no border for them."

The event raised more than $20,000 according to Rosy Torres; $1.3 million is needed to construct the club and to fund the program for one full year. Combined with other fundraising efforts, the club has raised about $300,000.

"We are so grateful for Bishop Mathes," said Rosy Torres. "What he said at our opening ceremony was right on. It's all about providing hope for the children."

Provided by Episcopal Life Online

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