New Dorm to Enable Rancho Feliz to House U.S. and Mexican Volunteers at the Same Time, Fostering Cross-Cultural Service Experiences
Scottsdale, Ariz. – Rancho Feliz, a a 31-year-old nonprofit based in Scottsdale, is breaking ground on “La Hacienda Feliz,” a $1.35 million, 20-room, 10,215-square-foot dorm in Agua Prieta, Mexico to house up to 70 volunteers at a time who provide services to residents of the area. The new dorm is expected to accommodate 1,500 volunteer visits a year.
The single-story dorm will feature an industrial kitchen, large dining hall (seats up to 80), industrial laundry room, arts and crafts room, small gift shop for local crafts and a shrine/meditation room. There will be two female dorm rooms, two male dorm rooms and six private chaperone rooms. Additional structures include a caretaker’s residence where a local couple will live all year, workshop, tool storage and green house.
In addition, the 1.7-acre site will feature a garden, orchard, 34 on-site car parking spaces, two on-site bus parking spaces, landscaped courtyard, an artistic mural and open space for future development. Agua Prieta is located across the Mexican border from Douglas, Ariz., approximately 230-miles south of Phoenix.
“Rancho Feliz’s mission is to change the world by changing consciousness. We are eliminating the divisional concepts that separate us,” said Founder & President Gil Gillenwater. “We are thrilled to break ground on our new dorm which will foster cross-cultural service experiences and connections by enabling us to house U.S. and Mexican volunteers at the same time.”
Rancho Feliz has outgrown its existing nearby 4,000-square-foot, 11-roomed dorm as its 20-year-old Exchange Program has hosted more than 22,000 volunteer visits. Volunteers have built more than 800 homes housing 3,200 displaced people, distributed more than 355 tons of food providing 4.1 million meals to the hungry, funded hundreds of grade school, high school and university scholarships, cared for abandoned children and seniors and forged a bridge of respect and friendship between the U.S. and Mexico.
“Americans need this cross-cultural experience now more than ever,” Gillenwater said. “Our volunteers feed their souls with purpose and also gain an appreciation of the good fortunes in their lives.”
The new dorm is located near Vecinos Dignos Sin Fronteras (Worthy Neighbors Without Borders), a 3.5-acre, $2 million housing community built by Rancho Feliz. The neighborhood includes 42 homes, a 10,000-square-foot childcare facility, a 5,000-square-foot education/recreation building, four interior parks and sports court. Rancho Feliz does not believe in welfare. To live here, each homeowner gives back by making affordable payments, performing service work within the community and keeping their children in school.
Agua Prieta contractors will build the new dorm, stimulating a struggling local economy. The renowned architectural firm, Joaquín Alfaro Arquitectos, from Obregon, Mexico, is designing the dorm. Construction is expected to take two years although small groups will be able to use portions of the facility in about a year.
More than 200 people are expected to attend the April 14 groundbreaking. About 50 Rancho Feliz donors and volunteers from the U.S. will travel to the event. Agua Prieta elected officials and dignitaries will be speaking.
The groundbreaking kicks off Rancho Feliz’s fundraising campaign. $600,000 of the dorm’s $1.35 million has been raised already. The land has been purchased. Rancho Feliz is seeking 20 donors to contribute $25,000 each with the balance being sought by institutional grants.
WHAT: Rancho Feliz to break ground on “La Hacienda Feliz” volunteer dormitory in Agua Prieta, Mexico
WHEN: 10 a.m. April 14
WHERE: Southeast corner of Calle 46 and Avenida 10, Agua Prieta, Mexico
Rancho Feliz has hosted more than 22,000 American volunteer visits, built more than 800 homes housing 3,200 displaced people, distributed more than 355 tons of food providing 4.1 million meals to the hungry, funded hundreds of grade school, high school and university scholarships, cared for abandoned children and seniors and forged a bridge of respect and friendship between the U.S. and Mexico. For more information, visit www.ranchofeliz.com.