Presto! Mammoth Lakes Rotary builds a house in Mexico

In one day, a new home for needy Tecate family

Forty-eight Mammoth Rotary Club members and 10 Mammoth and Bishop High School students last Saturday built a house in a single day.

Working in Tecate, Mexico, the Noon Rotary Club put together a home for a deserving Mexican family of three, said Rotarian Dan Watson.

Watson, also Mammoth’s Chief of Police, said it was the second year in a row the Rotarians organized an international service project through Corazon, Inc., a Southern California non profit organization that works with volunteers in Tijuana and Tecate.  

The recipients of the houses donate hundreds of hours of community service to get on a list for a donated home. Corazon works with service clubs like Rotary, churches, and schools that provide the $7,800 for the building materials and 30-50 volunteers.

The volunteers traveled from the Eastern Sierra on Friday, May 17, and spent the night in El Cajon. 

After meeting at 6 a.m., the group caravanned across the border and through Tecate to Sierra Azul, a small village around 7.6 miles from the border. 

They were met by the Andrade family, a mother and her two young daughters, and a 16x20 concrete slab and lots of building materials. After a safety briefing by Corazon lead builders (also volunteers), everyone found a job.

Some cut lumber. Some framed the walls and roof. Others painted.

By lunchtime, the walls and roof were up. 

Lunch was provided by the Andrade family and afterward the roof was shingled, windows installed, a kitchen counter tiled, and final painting completed. 

The house includes a sleeping loft and interior room, but no water or electricity. It was finished by 2:30 p.m. 

In what Watson described as “a brief but moving ceremony,” the keys to the new house were turned over to the Andrades.

After many thank-yous and hugs, the tired volunteers returned to El Cajon for a well deserved rest and then back home on Sunday.

Most of the 10 high school students are members of Rotary sponsored Interact Clubs, Watson said.

“The students pitched in and learned new skills. They also learned the value of community service and they all seemed to have a real enjoyable time.”