Don a gown, dance disco, devour BBQ — there’s a San Pedro fundraiser soon to suit you

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sagaThe fund raiser is a way of life when you live on a tropical island that is marked by severe poverty and great wealth, and a government that has limited ability to help its own people.

Here on Ambergris Caye it is a common sight to see locals in the street with money buckets, collecting coins and dollars for fire victims, cancer victims, accident victims. Last year a tour guide whose boat was torn up on the reef as he attempted to rescue some tourists was the beneficiary of a fund raiser to get him back on his feet. It is the island form of insurance, which otherwise does not exist or is out of the reach of ordinary residents.

There are monthly fund raisers for Saga, our version of the Humane Society, as well as fundraisers for the local food bank, athletic teams and individual competitors, AIDS groups, self-improvement groups, and, most certainly, our schools. It is at events like these where Belizeans and expats come together, mingle, share in the fun and camaraderie and make new friendships. 

Saga has to be the alpha fund-raiser on the island. If an event occurs on the island and a portion of the proceeds don’t go to Saga, did it really happen? One reason for their ubiquity and popularity is that Saga is good at what it does, tending to the stray dog and cat populations and providing medical services  and licensing for pets.

Probably the most fun Saga fund-raiser of the season comes up this month —  a 70’s Disco party at the island’s premiere restaurant, Casa Picasso.   Saga Night Fever at the Casa will be January 16,  7 – 11 p.m. The $70 BZD ticket includes 3 hours of passed appetizers,  Matt Hoy deejaying the 70’s sounds, prizes for best 70’s dress-up, dance competition, instructional hustle dancing by Rose Alcantara, raffles and even a mirrored ball. Cash bar, of course. You can call Sandie at 620-1124 or purchase tickets at Casa Picasso or Pampered Paws. Limited to 80 persons.

“Just a note for all you Islanders,” writes Jackie Feldman of Casa Picasso, “this fundraiser is truly important. Casa Picasso is donating all proceeds except for cost of goods to Saga. $40 from each ticket, will be given back to Saga and 10% of the bar. Matt Hoy is donating his time as well to spin some awesome Disco music.”

Not all fund raisers are events.

Another of our finest local restaurants, the Blue Water Grill offers its guest the opportunity to donate each month to a specific cause and then matches the amount. In this way they have improved local parks, added and updated playground gym sets, donated air conditioning and fans to schools and much much more.

Currently Blue Water is raising thousands of dollars for a badly needed overhaul of the much-used Boca del Rio Park.

Charity really does begin at home and the fund raiser is a legitimate and necessary delivery system for moving wealth from the pockets of reasonably comfortable expats and locals into the greater community where it can do some good. Win-win. The community receives some badly needed financial support and the donors enjoy a really good meal, some entertaining music, a feeling of camaraderie and the warm glow that comes with flexing that spirit of generosity.

Why am I going on like this?
0001There is a new fund raiser coming up shortly that has captured my attention. I won’t be in the country when it takes place but I’d like to help as best I can, which is of course through this blog.

The organization is a small private school on Turtle Street in south San Pedro, Ambergris Caye Elementary School, ACES to most people. A small school with a lot of spirit and a strong will to thrive. The fund raiser is a mouthful: Ball Gowns & BBQ Charity Gala & Auction, which will be held on Jan. 20 at Estel’s Dine by The Sea, four days after the Saga event.

ACES is a non-denominational, non-profit private school that is open to every family on the island. Among its attractions a low student to teacher ration, 15-to-1, and a rarity in Belize, a highly trained learning disabilities teacher who works with special-needs students.

ACES school pride can be found when ever there is a community parade, and there are lots of community parades in San Pedro. They recently had a float in the Christmas boat parade, for example. The annual parade of schools, the Independence parade, Carnaval (which is coming up very soon)  — you can pretty much count on ACES parents showing up in gaily decorated golf carts and school colors injecting major enthusiasm into an already festive situation.

One thing about Belize that some people don’t always grasp is that no education is free, public or private. All students and their families are on the hook for tuition and supplies and other expenses. The country supplies teachers to all.

Since its founding in 2009,  ACES has scored near or at the top among the island’s schools on the national PSE (Primary School Exam).

One of Charles Worthington's signature smokers stands ready outside his Estel's Dine by the Sea restaurant. It promises to get a workout this month.
One of Charles Worthington’s signature smokers stands ready outside his Estel’s Dine by the Sea restaurant. It promises to get a workout this month.

So, this  fund raiser is a first of its kind for the school. Depending on its success, a lot a kids who otherwise couldn’t afford a first-rate education will be able to do so. That to me, is well worth spending a night noshing on restaurateur Charles Worthington’s magnificent BBQ ribs at Estel’s Dine by the Sea while gazing on friends and neighbors in slinky gowns and flipflops. Come on guys, put on a gown for the night!  Actually men are off the hook and encouraged to wear Hawaiian shirt or white linen with “Panama hat optional.” The coolest thing? One hundred percent of your contribution goes to the school.

You’ve gotta feel good about that.

Tickets are $75 BZD per person and space is limited. Please contact Stephanie at 625-5976 or via email: to secure your tickets.

And less than a week later, on Jan. 26, Charles Worthington will sponsor his annual invitational barbecue cook-off at Estel’s, which always has a charitable benefactor. A half-dozen of the finest grill artists will gather and prepare ribs in their own secret sauces. Paying guests get a sample of each and get to vote for their favorite. There is usually a judges prize and a Peoples’ Choice award and rarely do they match up!

Here’s my blog post on last year’s BBQ competition.

Details on the annual cook-off will be coming soon.




9 thoughts on “Don a gown, dance disco, devour BBQ — there’s a San Pedro fundraiser soon to suit you

    Susan said:
    January 10, 2016 at 1:59 pm

    Just one of the many reasons I can’t wait to live on this Island! Now if the Stock Markets would STOP acting up I might just have some extra money to spend! 🙂


    Gerry said:
    January 10, 2016 at 8:21 pm

    Hey Robert, I really enjoy your blog. It gives me a real sense of the life my wife and I had to abruptly leave behind. I miss the simplicity of life as you describe it. But more so, I miss the people. The sense of community, the coming together to help one another. In fact, (TATOO LADY) Sam Barrow along with Island time bar had a fund raiser for my wife. It was very successfull and touched our hearts deeply. In 15 short months in San Pedro we became part of this community. A community that came together to help us in our time of need and love. Best of all, the pro seeds were hand delivered to Fort Worth, Tx. by the one and only Tull Rea. That shit touches the heart and there is a lot of heart in that wonderful place. You and I have spoken few times. Thanks for letting us in on your daily adventures. In my opinion, that is what San Pedro is really all about. The Daily adventures.

    Liked by 1 person

      robertjhawkins1 responded:
      January 11, 2016 at 4:38 am

      Hi Gerry,
      Thanks for writing and sharing your experience. It is inspiring and humbling to hear about the good that people do for each other on this little rock. It sometimes can feel like one big, sprawling family. Hope you all are doing well now. Here’s to new adventures, just up ahead.


    johnhenryeast said:
    January 11, 2016 at 6:23 am

    Bob, I’m sure that you didn’t mean to but you do Belizeans a disservice. It’s not only ‘wealthy expats’ that donate to the many fund raising efforts on the island. I’ve witnessed many Belizeans digging deep. And relative to what they have their donations are huge.


      robertjhawkins1 responded:
      January 11, 2016 at 8:07 am

      John, you are absolutely correct. Fund raisers draw locals and ex-pats alike. I have rewritten parts of this post to reflect that. Thank you for pointing that out.


    SPmQQse said:
    January 15, 2016 at 10:17 am

    i just wanna know who came up with the name
    ”SAGA NIGHT FEVER”….and the poster….lololol


    Preston said:
    January 17, 2016 at 5:38 am

    Hey, please email me and let me in on why you were recently on a Facebook post (in bed). I don’t Facebook, but Bob saw it and told me about it. Rose was in the pic, too. BTW, come Wednesday (Jan 20) 25 former Tribune staffers (including moi) are going to the UT to look at the remaining newsroom and staff before it all moves to downtown in March. I think we are going to lay a wreath, too. Anyway, I hope you’re doing okay. I took this message route because I don’t see (read) you on 919 much anymore. Hugs and love, etc.


      robertjhawkins1 responded:
      January 17, 2016 at 6:47 pm

      That will be an emotional time (for the veterans). Remember when our last Tribune ran off the press? As flawed as that building might have been it also held a ton of great memories. Can’t wait to hear about it.


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