A Brief History

Amigos de La Cruz de Huanacaxtle, A.C., came to flower through Philo’s Friendship Club and APERCH, predecessor’s of the present Amigos.

The Friendship Club, APERCH and Philo

More about Philo

APERCH had its beginning in 2003 when the new highway to Punta de Mita was built.  Unexpectedly, La Cruz was left with an embankment and no entry into town.

The residents and small business owners of La Cruz got together and petitioned the Municipal President for:

  • Construction of a town entrance
  • Protection of the huanacaxtle trees
  • More frequent garbage removal
  • Investigation of the effectiveness of the sewage treatment plant
  • Improved communications through the Delagado (town delegate)

Their efforts were successful and La Cruz now welcomes visitors to town with views of the glorieta and the sparkling waters of the Banderas Bay.  Encouraged, they continued working to improve garbage collection, street cleaning and communication with government officials.

  • The group is now known as Amigos de La Cruz de Huanacaxtle, A.C.
  • In 2014 Amigos received the status of Asociación Civil or Mexican non-profit corporation.
  • In 2015, Amigos received their Donatario status as a Mexican tax-deductible charity.

David Connell, Connell & Associates, provides the legal expertise to keep the association in line with Mexican laws. Gabriela Rojas, TeranRojas, provides the accounting expertise to ensure compliance with Hacienda (equivalent to IRS or Revenue Canada).

Banderas Bay Charities Inc. is the US nonprofit foundation which accepts donor directed donations for US tax credit.

Board Of Directors

Cynthia Del Pino

Board President and Legal

Cynthia is a practicing attorney and resident of La Cruz.  Born and raised in Mexico City, Cynthia has lived in the Vallarta area for 10+ years.  Formerly associated with Connell & Associates, she is now in private practice with her office located at Paradise Village in Nuevo Vallarta.  Cynthia graduated from law school at Metropolitan University of Mexico City where she focused on public administration and constitutional law.  Cynthia specializes in corporate, foreign investment, and real estate; as well as criminal and civil litigation.  Cynthia comes from a family of professionals, although her sister is presently a stay-at-home mother; her father, now deceased, was an attorney; mother a business manager; and her brothers, one is a banker and the other is an attorney. Cynthia and her partner John Whitten and son Elliot, enjoy outdoor activities and meeting new people.

David Albert

Board Vice-President

David recently sold his Vista Pelicanos house in La Cruz, but promises to return regularly.  His passion is a clean La Cruz.   David has taken it upon himself to work with local businesses to promote clean streets and sidewalks. Dave owns a real estate company, Pierview Properties Real Estate in Oceanside, California.

Amy Welch

Board, Secretary/Treasurer

Amy hails from Portland, Oregon; she and her husband Bill have owned a home in La Cruz since 1996.  They co-founded Children’s Shelter of Hope Foundation, which primarily supports children’s programs in Puerto Vallarta. In her work life, Amy was primarily with Portland Public Schools’ as an administrator working with gifted youth Kindergarten through Grade 12.  Bill was a practicing tax attorney and formerly a partner with CPA firm Coopers & Lybrand (now PwC).  Bill provided legal services pro bono to Banderas Bay Charities, Inc.  Presently, Amy volunteers as treasurer to PEACEAnimals and Amigos, serves on several boards in Portland and Mexico, and owns a property rental business.  She enjoys boating and travel.

Kids Club Staff

John Whitten, Director of Kids Club
John is a 20+-year resident of La Cruz, pictured with his wife Cynthia del Pino. He has 27+ years of experience as an educator and education administrator. He has worked with many schools around the Bay Area. As a former Secretary of Public Education Coordinator in Mexico he is well-versed in the education system, curriculum, policies and demographics. John has experience with Kids Club and Amigos de La Cruz as a volunteer at summer camps and dental clinics over the years. His primary goal with the Kids Club is to empower students and parents to take responsibility for their education and to provide resources to reach and maintain their maximum potential, as well as set high standards and goals for themselves and broaden their opportunities from which to choose their career and education options. Academics are not the only key, students need to have other outlets for their self-expression in the arts, health, nutrition, physical activity, as well self-confidence and self-esteem. In his “off time,” two days each week, he devotes to the PEACEAnimals clinics as the Clinic Coordinator.

Lilly, Teacher
My name is Lilly Alcantara.  I grew up in Guadalajara and lived in Veracruz for 13 years.  I have been in Bahia de Banderas for more than 10 years.  I am an anthropologist by training, focusing on the dance, music and traditions of Mexico, especially those of African roots.  I have studied traditional dances in Africa, Cuba and many towns in Mexico, and belonged to various international artistic groups such as Duende and Luna Rumba, which some of you know. My husband and I founded the Quilombo Cultural and Sports Center in Sayulita, and we have two happy children Jade and  Ali.  I love working with children in these times where technology is taking too much of the people’s attention. I like to share with them the magic of rhythm, the poetry of a good song, and body language as a form of language to channel their emotions. I see that the music, dance and games we play have a positive impact on their academic performance and give them physical and emotional health and a lot of good humor!

Alejandra Rubboli
I am 58 years old. I have been living in this area for more than 12 years. I studied classical ballet in Guadalajara for 15 years and I am a member of the Royal Academy of Dance, as well as having studied, sculpture and painting.  In addition, I studied Fashion Design in Paris, France.
I worked for 6 years at Club Med where I supported actors as a make-up artist and designed theater costumes. I am very happy to work at the Kids Club because I can pass on everything I have learned to the new generation!  Nothing is better than working with children. My future projects are to continue giving workshops where

Mayra Soto
Teaching English & Spanish

My name is Mayra Soto Campos.
I was born in the Mexico City, on July 24, 1978.
I am the second daughter of María Cruz Campos and Ramón Soto Cruz.
I studied primary school and part of secondary school (2 years) in the Federal District.
When my mother remarried Roberto Orozco, we moved to the beautiful town of La Cruz in 1990 where I studied and graduated high school in Bucerias.
I married Lucio Aguirre at the age of 15.
I have 2 children: Uriel and Efraín.

I began my service in the community in 2004, as a Catechist for the Catholic church.   I resumed my studies 2 years later, studying and continuing courses in religious studies. In 2008, I began with an introductory course in Bucerías and later entered the School of Theology in Puerto Vallarta (3 years).

I studied English at the Washington School located in Terralta.   I started teaching introductory classes in English for children at home, knowing that it is an extremely necessary language.  I came to KIDS CLUB when I was told I could use their facilities to teach. Now I am a teacher at Kids Club, I am very grateful to be part of this beautiful place.  Kids Club has opened their doors and their hearts to me.

Advisory Board

Dawn & Jon Moss,  Advsiory Board Kids Club
In April 2019, they committed the next 3-5 years for Amigos to use the Kids Club.  They hail from Vancouver, BC, Canada and are owners of a lovely home in La Cruz.

Dawn retired as Corporate Secretary for Eldorado Gold.  Dawn joined Eldorado as Corporate Administrator in November 1998 and was appointed Corporate Secretary in October 2000. Dawn became Vice President, Administration in March 2009 and Executive Vice President Administration and Corporate Secretary on July 1, 2012. She has over 25 years of administration experience in the resource industry. Dawn is a Member of the Institute of Chartered Secretaries and Administrators of Canada, the Canadian Society of Corporate Secretaries and is an Accredited Director.

Jon is with Homelife Benchmark Realty Corp. and has worked in the property acquisition development and marketing for most of his 42 year career in real estate. Combining his skill-set of architectural design, development, and project management he offers a unique skill set that many of his clients draw on, as new projects are conceived and renovations are contemplated.

Carmen Tapia, Co-Founder, Kids Club
Carmen is one of the most engaging volunteers. She is a recently retired special education teacher in a bilingual school in Tucson, Arizona.  Before that she taught in Hermosillo.  Four  years ago, you could find Carmen sitting under a tree, teaching first and second graders to read and write Spanish.

“I’m proud to be a member of an association focused on community service like Amigos de la Cruz. We all share the common goal of improving the environment and people’s lives. I’m a strong advocate of fulfilling children’s educational needs and Amigos de La Cruz make good things happen for the children in the community.”

Cindy Bouchard, Advisory Board Auctions
Cindy and her husband Chris offer their constant assistance for events. Chris is often the MC at the event and Cindy is in charge of the Auction items as well as getting the award for most ticket sales at any event.  They own a local boutique hotel Villa Amor del Mar.

What began for us as a mid-life sabbatical has become a full time Mexican lifestyle.

Too young to retire, we decided the best way to celebrate our love of the area was to share our Mexico with others from around the world. During our parallel careers in Vancouver as Interior Designer (Cindy) and Project Manager (Chris) we were involved in the completion of numerous luxury hotels such as Four Seasons, Fairmont, Ritz Carlton, etc. A chance visit to La Cruz led to our purchase of a beachfront villa in need of considerable updating. It was a match (our background/the villa’s need for some serious love) made in heaven. We are gratified by the affirming reviews we have received, and we will continue to pursue excellence as your hosts.

In addition to this, we are actively involved in local community groups such as Amigos de La Cruz as well as participating in the very lively cultural scene, and other altruistic pursuits. Life is good.