Life in the Canyon - Helping Children and Families in Tijuana Mexico
Ben's Closet
The heart of what we do....
 We created a place that people can come and ask for help.  We have a lobby with a couch and chairs for them to sit and get out of the hot sun or rain.  We have coffee and cookies every day.  The news paper to read.  A computer for them to use and Wifi for them to connect to the rest of the world.

Everyday, people come to just we with us or to ask for help.  Women who have never asked for anything before, begin to weep from embarrassment as they explain they have no food in their home today to feed their children.  Some don't have gas to cook with or water to drink or bath with.  Mom's holding sick babies who don't have money to take them to see a doctor.  As well as adults who are sick or injured and can't afford to get medicine.  Parents who come asking for help because their children's school has told them them have to pay for testing or credential photos, knowing that if they don't pay, their children might not be eligible to stay in school. Or that it rained last night and the water is leaking where the children sleep. 
What I just described are typical of the list of requests I get everyday.  Most of these can be resolved with as little as $5.  $20 pays for a babies doctors visit and the medications.  
This is how it started...

Dave and Polly Rathe (a very humble couple) began by collecting warm clothing, blankets and other items to share with families.  They did this in honor of their late son Ben who used to travel with the family to Mexico to serve here.
As they brought items to share, we began storing them and adding other items people brought as a blessing. 
Ben's closet became kind of a magical room.  We would disappear inside and return with a bag full of items that a family might need to help them with their current needs.
Dave is an amazing cook.  On his days off, he shops for the right cuts of meat and prepares individual sealed 1 pound packets that he sells to co-workers at the rail road.   
They also host fund raising events, selling a variety of BBQ food.  Polly is in real estate and has a program where she donates a portion of her fees to a charity of their choice.    All of this allows us to help pay for doctor visits, medicines, tarps and food products and all the other emergent needs we see everyday..  
We dedicated the first Ben's Closet about 6 years ago.  Since that time, we have opened Ben's Closet II at the School office and Ben's Closet III at the community center that we have been working to reopen for the past couple of years. 
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