Cantera was founded 30 years ago in Nicaragua by two Sisters of St. Agnes, Sister Anabel Torres and Sister Mary Hartman. It is based on Paulo Freire’s belief in popular education where people determine for themselves how to work together to change the realities for hundreds of Nicaraguans. Cantera now has 29 different services ranging from holistic health to reforestations campaigns to learning activities to leadership training and a farm that includes beekeeping.
The Clean Your Closet for Cantera rummage sale events began in Santa Rosa, CA, by Alice Waco and Bill McGee, two strong supporters of Cantera. Board members in Baton Rouge, LA, followed the tradition and when I became a member of Friends of Cantera, Inc. board I realized that this was a way money could be raised for Cantera through Marian University and the Fond du Lac Community. The first event was a garage sale on a bitter cold Ash Wednesday in 2014 when $350.00 was raised.
Marian University’s Social Justice Committee now sponsors the event. Dozens of people bring items to the garage at the President’s office building during May. Many Marian personnel, sisters, and CSA associates help transport items to where the sale occurs on Memorial Day weekend. Students, staff, faculty sisters and associates helped sort items that covered over 50 tables in the Dining room and overflowed to the parking lot with racks of clothes and furniture items.
Reasonable donations are asked and people give as they can which helps many people in Fond du Lac who would not afford a couch or chair, etc. otherwise. Others donate more than an item would be in other rummage sales, knowing that it is a good cause. Since it is our 6th year, people come up to me with their donation saying, “I know the good work that this sale helps, so here is my donation.”
This year $3,225.00 was donated for items and two generous donors gave one-time donations totaling $3,000.00 making this year’s total of $6,225.00 the best year yet!
Personally, it is a gift to be a part of this event. I began because I am serving on the board and had an obligation to support the organization. Now I treasure working with the many people who support it and gather to work hard hauling items, arranging them for sale, and packing them up to go to the St. Vincent de Paul Store. They are the one who make this a special event, knowing the great work that the many Cantera people in Nicaragua are doing every day. I have been motivated to continue being secretary of the Board of Friends of Cantera, Inc. by my personal witness of how Freire’s philosophy has been lived out through the work of Cantera. When I visited Cantera in 2014, I met professors at the University of Managua who had been in gangs in their youth until they started being part of Cantera’s leadership program for teens. With scholarship assistance from Cantera, they finished high school, graduated from college and earned degrees allowing them to be professors who now work with today’s youth through Cantera. I pray that today’s youth who get assistance through Cantera will follow this example into the future.
The Spring Cantera newsletter is available to view here: Friends of Cantera Newsletter - Spring 2019