San Jacinto Native Joe Conjin, feeding those less fortunate in time of need

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(Native Joe Conjin)

How Feeding Rosarito came to be: I grew up in San Jacinto and learned at an early age what it means to help others. I was a student at St. Hyacinth’s Academy in the 1970s, we held a carnival every year near Halloween to raise funds for the school. My parents would help out with different booths and the Bingo games, my brother and sisters would help out with the various games. My dad and a good friend of his built the board that showed what numbers had been called by having a light come on behind a plastic screen showing the different numbers. While attending San Jacinto High School, I was involved with the Future Farmers of America group, which was involved with a lot of charity groups. It was while living in San Jacinto, where I first became a blood donor. While attending Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, I was involved with the Sigma Alpha Epsilon Fraternity and we helped a lot of elderly neighbors with yard maintenance as well as organizing fundraisers for the Make-A-Wish Foundation and The American Cancer Society.

While living in Las Vegas, I became involved with a group that held a Christmas party every year for between 110-120 needy children each year. I helped out with different events at St. Thomas More Catholic Church, as well as becoming a 25-gallon blood donor.

When I moved to Rosarito, Baja California, Mexico, I became involved with the civic group Yo Amo Rosarito, where they put my love for baking to good use. They supported many of the local artists and dance groups and I was recruited to bake treats for upwards of 100 guests at the different events.

When the government required “non-essential” businesses to close, people that were already living payday to payday all of a sudden had no means to support their families. Some friends got together and devised a plan to buy and distribute food. The first day we went out, the 11,000 pesos worth of food we purchased was split up between four cars and taken to different areas of Rosarito, Puerto Nuevo and La Mision.

My friend, Scot and his wife, Janine brought food to the residents of one small neighborhood of Puerto Nuevo and gave it all away in less than an hour. As we were running out of food, a pregnant woman came up to us and all we were able to give her was a bag of rice and some oil. I knew she’d need more than that to help feed her family. I went to the local Abarotte (neighborhood grocery store, usually less than 100 square feet in size) and gave the clerk 500 pesos (about $23 US) and explained to her that was for the people that had no money so they could buy some food. A few days later, I went back to that same little store, hoping they’d be able to help me find the pregnant lady. Not only did they know her name, but they also knew where she lived. I was able to give her husband food for the family along with diapers and formula for when their baby arrived.

That afternoon I went to Sam’s Club in Tijuana and bought 8,000 pesos ($350 US) worth of rice, beans, toilet paper, milk, tomato paste, flour and salsa picante, brought it home and bagged up the beans, rice and flour in quart size Ziploc bags. The next day, my wife and I, along with our friend Elice Simones-Tucker delivered the food to 60 families in the Plan Libertador area of Rosarito. At this point, we were being funded by the donations Scott received.

Later that week, it was decided that the money Scott would receive would be used to provide vouchers through 4 stores in the Puerto Nuevo and La Mision areas. That left the people of Rosarito with no one to turn to. On April 8th, I made the Facebook group Feeding Rosarito and started a PayPal account for that group tied to the FeedingRosarito@Yahoo.com email address. To date, we have raised over $14,500, we have provided food to over 2,180 families. We have around 150 bags of food ready to be delivered over the next few days and can make another 150 bags with the food we have on hand. We have just over 10,000 pesos in our account with is enough to buy food for another 75 families.

My wife, Claudia Salceda-Conijn and I receive more requests for food than we can take care of. The hardest thing in the world is to say “no” when someone asks for help. We help as many as we can and provide others with the phone number to the local food bank. We try to deliver to 50-75 families each day. We go to 2 or 3 neighborhoods each day. Claudia grew up in Rosarito and has been involved with Yo Amo Rosarito for ten years. She handles the logistics of where we go each day through her network of contacts.

Donations are accepted through Venmo.com or PayPal.com to FeedingRosarito@Yahoo.com and are greatly appreciated. Follow what we’re doing at https://www.facebook.com/groups/2849337511829399/ Muchas Gracias!

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