By Michael Popil
Volunteers of the Charities and Activities Committee (CAC) at Embassy Mexico City know that diplomacy defies time, boundaries, and titles. This volunteer group of U.S. direct hires, locally employed (LE) staff, and eligible family members has been serving the Mexico City community for more than 50 years. Each volunteer is dedicated to fulfilling CAC’s mission to strengthen U.S.-Mexico relations by promoting friendship, civic engagement, and philanthropy.
CAC supports diverse charitable causes—through rain, shine, and pandemics. In the past year, CAC volunteers provided specialized wheelchairs for children with cerebral palsy, pet supplies and equipment for local animal shelters, food and school supplies for children at local organizations, and personal protective equipment for Mexican hospitals combating COVID-19.
The group partners with local organizations inside and outside of the embassy. In 2021, they worked with the local chapter of the Gays and Lesbians in Foreign Affairs Agencies to distribute COVID-19 care and basic food kits to vulnerable LGBTQ+ individuals, and contributed to the Marine Security Guard Detachment toy and clothing drive during the holidays. Earlier this year, CAC partnered with Girl Scout troops to make blankets and write notes for seniors in retirement homes.
While CAC has several long-standing projects, they also respond quickly to emerging needs, including the Department of State’s call to support LE staff colleagues in Ukraine. In March, CAC volunteers made and sold varenyky, a traditional Ukrainian food known to many as pierogis, as a fundraiser to benefit the Department’s Foreign Service National Emergency Relief Fund.
CAC volunteers attribute their success to a very generous embassy community. As Patsy Long, a CAC volunteer since 2010 and former CAC chair, says, “The most rewarding thing anyone can do is inspire the embassy community to help those who are less fortunate in the country where they are posted by participating in volunteer activities. In doing so, we realize how incredibly blessed we are to be part of the U.S. Department of State.”
Volunteers join the committee to make a difference, and year after year, CAC brings people together and succeeds in demonstrating the shared American and Mexican values of volunteerism, solidarity, and generosity.
Michael Popil is an information management specialist at Embassy Mexico City and a 2021-2022 co-chair of the Charities and Activities Committee.