Giving Back to the Community: Tennessee Edd

October 22, 2015




When we met Edd Bissell on our first day in La Cruz, he extended his hand and with a hearty handshake, he says, “I’m AAy-ehhd, where y’all from?”. We bonded instantly as he shared what brought him to La Cruz, that he now calls home and how he’d be surprised if we didn’t end up doing so too! It’s been six years now; I guess he knew things we didn’t.


Edd tells you how it is – whether you want to hear it or not. He’s a self-confessed, Redneck and proud of it. He makes me laugh out loud but Edd’s true self is revealed through his kindness to one teeny, Rancho community called San Quintin. Every conversation includes a plea for help for his town, starting with the school. He just wanted to see kids get an education. As they graduated he wanted them to go on to higher education and it’s happening! No child had gone past sixth grade before Edd took a stand, now several have graduated and some have gone on to higher education.

“Give a man a fish and he eats for a day, teach a man to fish and he eats for a lifetime,” was pertinent with Edd’s ‘project’ as he calls it. Successful at accumulating donations of clothes, computers and even money, he realized people had to ‘earn’ what they received, so he helped the kids set up a thrift shop. Most of what is donated goes into the thrift shop. The profits go to the kids’ education. Their education extends to more than just book learning. Edd makes sure they take part in all that goes into running a store; the renovation, the economics, the sales, etc.

When asked what inspired him and what keeps him going. “I was going to Sayulita and Patricia, my cleaning gal, hitched a ride to her parents place in San Quintin (where she was raised). On the way she told me that Alonso (her husband) wanted to move back to the village and so did her three kids, BUT she was not keen on the idea because of the location AND primarily the lack within the village school. I asked her to see it; it was less than pitiful in my opinion. The schoolyard was atrocious, inside was equally bad, so it started there with a broom, a mop and some paint! Alonso spearheaded the efforts, because I was REALLY an outsider.


Luis was the teacher the second year I helped out the school. I had asked for a bilingual teacher and he was it in the whole system; lucky for both of us I suppose. With him, I was able to turn the school from a baby-sitting facility into something of better value — But it was difficult!! To start with there was no parental support. None! And after sixth grade the full school expense is on the family, no government help. We help pay school fees, bus fare, books, pencils, paper, etc. We try to give them money for any extra activities that might come up”.
If an old gringo, with a drawl and absolutely no Spanish language skills can do all the above and more… consider one small thing you can do today… and tomorrow… and next week… and, and, and!

As Edd’s says “The school is well, kids are fine, all is welllllll. All in a days work”!

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