Record number of Friends of Nosara donors support nine local programs

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Friends of Nosara (FON), the non-profit umbrella for nine local service organizations, reported that in 2013 it received a record of 564 individual gifts for a total of $99,218 committed directly to community groups. 25 Board Members and supporters received financial and Partner Organization updates at FON’s annual meeting held Sunday, January 5th at Marlin Bill’s restaurant.

Every donation Friends of Nosara receives is earmarked for a specific group and all but 25% of the 2013 funds have already been distributed. 

“Many donations come in at the end of the year.  We send everyone a tax deductible donation receipt and thank you letter,” said Secretary Alice Olson. 

Treasurer Mike Olson presented the 2013 financials, showing how the $99,218 was distributed to support the work of the nine members.  “It is a little less than last year, but some of the usual big donors gave to the same groups through other channels this year,” he said. 

SIBU Sanctuary and Refugio Animales de Nosara, collectively Nosara Wildlife Rescue, two groups which provide monkey and wildlife rescue and rehabilitation, and efforts to prevent monkey electrocution, experienced a large increase in their donation level.  They received $26,987 this year over a combined total of $16,234 last year. 

Donors contributed $23,315 for scholarships for low income children to attend Del Mar Academy private school. Surfing Nosara Foundation, which supports arts programs and infrastructure improvements in public schools, received $16,174.  The Kitson Memorial Library received $20,050 and the newly established Nosara Recycling Association raised $5,100 worth of donations via FON. 

FON President Bobbi Johnson presided over the annual meeting as all Partner Organizations presented highlights of their progress and challenges.  Beverly Kitson reported that the Kitson Library served over 14,000 visitors in 2013 and May visitors increased from 1,200 in 2012 to 2,000 this past year.  Kitson Library programs include a mobile book van and reader’s clubs for schools, mother and pre-school children literacy, senior citizen health and exercise, and English instruction.  The English language development program supported by Middlebury College interns each January continues into its 17th year.  Library challenges include fundraising and building a working website. 

Escuelita de Nosara, a January summer school for public school students, received $1,385 and expects to serve 150 to 200 children, reported coordinator Sarah Antonson of the Surfing Nosara Foundation, which is overseeing the program this summer. 

“We have a bus to bring kids from Santa Marta and 12 signed up just yesterday,” said Antonson. Starting this week, Escuelita Summer School has seven paid staff members and multiple volunteers. In addition to the FON funds, Escuelita received a donation which will provide a backpack and school supplies for each participating child. 

Nosara Animal Welfare Association reported that despite founder Sarah Foster’s move out of town, the organization’s Board is continuing strong with new Director Jeanette Johnston.  They received $3,950 in donations. Nine spay/neuter clinics from Marbella to Barco Quebrada offer services.  In 2013, 247 animals were spayed and 65 were rescued and rehabilitated in local homes.  The members provide education in Bandera Azul schools and have increased the supply of rescued animal homes by tapping into the long term tourists who rent in town for at least two weeks. Several have even taken pets back to the States and Canada.  In 2014, they hope to sell the building they own on the main road of Nosara to help fund their biggest expenses—food, medicine and subsidizing spaying services for those who can’t afford them.

Jessica Sheffield reported that the Nosara Recycling Association is fully operational staffed by Manager Alvaro Camacho and 10 local women.  In addition to the FON funds, the Association has received Costa Rican government funds and a CRUSA Foundation grant of $15,000.  The group offers two recycling pick-ups a month, every second and fourth Wednesday, along the same route as general garbage service.  Acceptable items, packaged in clear plastic bags include:  clean glass bottles, aluminum cans, canned food cans, tetra packs (milk cartons), plastic bottles, dry paper and cardboard, magazines and books.  Staff members reuse unrecyclable items in art projects and sell them.  Sheffield showed a bowl made of paper and magazines as an example. 

“25% of the items left at the Nosara dump are recyclable and 50% of dumped items are organic,” said Sheffield.  “None of those things should be in the dump.  This is like an education center with a recycling center attached.  We do workshops for local women and in the schools to educate the community about recycling, organic composting and reusing every day items.” 

After the Partner reports, Board Secretary Olson outlined a new relationship that FON has formed with CRUSA which will be beneficial to FON and all member organizations in 2014.  CRUSA, the Costa Rica USA Foundation, formed after USAID left the country, with American and Costa Rican funds and run by a board representing both countries, has established a Fund for Guanacaste.  The Fund just began to provide matching grants for local community development efforts. CRUSA already has supported the new Nosara Recycling Association and the Surfing Nosara Foundation with matching grants. 

Olson explained that CRUSA will spend 2014 providing additional funds and support to Guanacaste community focused services.  CRUSA will also collaborate with FON to streamline their online donation process and reduce FON bookkeeping and expenses.  Large donors to Friends of Nosara should consider donating through CRUSA in the future, Olson said, in order to maximize the value of their contribution. 

Friends of Nosara Partner Organizations are: David S.Kitson Memorial Library; Del Mar Academy Scholarship Fund; Escuelita de Nosara Summer School; Nosara Recycling Association; SIBU Sanctuary; Refugio Animales de Nosara; Nosara Civic Association Beach Protection Program; Surfing Nosara Foundation; Nosara Animal Welfare Association.

“This article has been changed from its original version. The final amounts of the money distributed from Friends of Nosara to the community organizations were corrected because the annual report given at the presentation only represented the cash flow of Friends of Nosara, not the total amount of money donated to the community organizations.”