Expats, locals mix over YGO breakfast and raise money for charities

David Omer Dodge and Kimberly Davin-DeGraff thank attendees for supporting the efforts of YGO. Photo: Facebook
  • Kiimberly Dawn-DeGraff and Dave O. Dodge. Photo: Courtesy

Breakfast was served Tuesday morning to a banquet room full of expats and locals who reveled in kicking off another Season of Sharing.

Dave Omer Dodge, of Yucatán Giving Outreach, AC, conceived and organized the First Annual Community Breakfast at the Hyatt Regency Mérida. At 8 a.m., 325 attendees filled the banquet room.

In one hour, the team at YGO raised over 275,000 pesos, which will directly impact the lives of hundreds of residents in the greater Mérida area.

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The hotel donated the room and the three-course breakfast, meaning all the proceeds go toward buying food and hygiene products for several local shelters. YGO provides food to 425 people each month, and relies solely on donations. The Season of Sharing is the October-December campaign that offers a series of fun events, connecting the expat community to those in need.

Punto Medio, a local news organization, called it striking that the breakfast was attended mainly by foreigners.

The nonprofit organization was founded by Dodge and Kimberly Davin-DeGraff, a California native who has lived in Mérida for 15 years. Most recently, their volunteers have opened a food bank and thrift shop in Itzimná, which supports various shelters.

“About five years ago I visited the La Divina Providencia shelter and I saw a real need,” Davin-DeGraff told Punto Medio. “They do not have enough food, they do not have soap or shampoo, and my heart was opened completely. As a Christian I saw brothers dying of hunger.”

From there, she gathered several volunteers from the foreign community to help the cause, first with a Facebook page and eventually with an official government-sanctioned charity.

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YGO initially expected perhaps 125 guests for breakfast, but instead found 320 attendees, she said enthusiastically.

This was our first major event for this year’s  “The Season of Sharing”

Special thanks went to the Hyatt’s executive chef, Hector Morales, who green-lighted the entire event at no cost to YGO, allowing all the money raised to go straight to the charities.

The morning’s hosts were YGO Co-Founders Kimberly Davin-DeGraff and Dave O. Dodge. Twenty-six YGO Ambassadors invited friends to their tables, some filling two or three tables. One Ambassador was an overachiever and filled almost five tables.

Yucatan Custom Home Builders donated the Mimosas Bar for everyone to enjoy.

Also on hand with vendor tables were EcoCentro Solar and Merida Living Real Estate, both returning sponsors for this season. They were joined by a new sponsor, Yucatan Custom Home Builders.

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The Season of Sharing events were announced:

YGO also celebrated the year with some awards:

  • Jacque Mott – YGO Art With Heart Volunteer of the Year
  • Cy Bor – YGO Volunteer of the Year
  • Gaby Haber – YGO Volunteer Extraordinaire Award
  • Cindy Morrissey – YGO Visionary Award

Dave O. Dodge also orchestrated a live call-to-action and raised 150,000 pesos to support the YGO Food Pantry.

A portion of these funds was matched by Rob Teichman and Roy Bickford of the Bears en la Playa guesthouse. They are the original supporters of the YGO Food Pantry in Itzimná, in honor of their son.

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YGO is pleased to have the entire year of 2019 underwritten by these caring supporters.

Kimmy gave an inspirational and heartfelt speech on the origins of YGO, the growth and the future of this organization. There was not a dry eye in the house.

Dave closed with a message from the Mayan world and “The tree of life.” #BeTheBranch is YGO’s hashtag.

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