Naco’s Great Need
Naco Wellness Initiative began in Bisbee in 2004 as an outreach to friends, neighbors, and family members in Naco, Arizona, and Naco, Sonora. Founding and early volunteer efforts came from many of the residents of Bisbee, Arizona, and members of Bisbee’s St. John’s Episcopal and Covenant Presbyterian churches. Tom Carlson is a founding member and the longtime Executive Director.
NWI is a small nonprofit working hard to deliver big benefits in health, education, food production, and social enterprise to the border area. NWI also empowers Naco, Sonora, community leaders, and volunteers to brainstorm and implement their own community solutions.
The need was and continues to be great. The international border region faces many challenges
- 80% of residents live at the poverty level.
- Up to 50% are chronically unemployed, and most jobs provide very low wages.
- 70% of all residents have diabetes. It’s an epidemic by itself.
- 60% suffer from asthma, tuberculosis, and other chronic diseases due to the lack of healthy, nutritious food and the high local cost of all food, plus the lack of health care and education, trained medical staff, and supplies.
- Less than 50% of all young people graduate from Naco’s high schools.
- Pregnant women and children especially lack of good nutrition, medical care, and routine inoculations, dental and eye exams.
Naco’s Great Gifts
U.S. residents who visit NWI’s Casa Saludables Clinics and San Jose Organic Community Garden quickly discover Naco’s great gift: The People and their profuse love for their town and each other, which spills over to anyone who is an Amigo/Friend of Naco Wellness Initiative.
Alongside that is the strong and joyous spirit and rising empowerment of Naco’s women, who seize every opportunity to help their children, families, and town. NWI’s team of Promotoras is female, as are NWI’s Director and Garden Director. The majority of people taking part in programs and services are women, and eventually they bring their men along.
Said NWI Volunteer Mary Cavalier, “Naco is full of empowered and empowering women who want to improve the wellbeing of everyone in their community. They have such joy in doing that, and their neighbors have such joy in receiving that. If you go to Naco, you feel it, too. The joy is contagious.”
NWI Founder and Executive Director Tom Carlson was asked once what he experiences when working in Mexico. His reply turned into this list:
There’s plenty of poverty and pain, and we do have our share of challenging tests and calamities.But these are the things I most think about: Foremost is the sense of Total Familia, which better observers than I have remarked gives family and friends deep feelings of security knowing they are loved and valued because of who they are
Plus . . .
- Always the smiles, enough to go around for everyone
- A radiant warmth
- An atmosphere of genuine friendliness
- Inclusiveness and sharing
- People looking out for each other
- Unconditional Love
- Incredible work ethic and resourcefulness
- Consensus building
- Respectfulness and courtesy
- Unquestioned trust and loyalty
- Pervasive kindness, with honest feelings
- Always warm greetings and goodbyes