In an effort to expand my acquaintance (and, I hope, friendship) base here in Sao Paulo, I signed us up for membership in the International Newcomers Club of Sao Paulo. So far, it’s been a good decision. I’ve met English-speakers from all over the world, and we’ve had the opportunity to work on several charity projects in the past few months.

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One weekend early this March, we volunteered at a painting party at the Ranchinho do Senhor, a daycare center near the center of Sao Paulo run by the Salvation Army. The ranchinho is what’s known as a creche here, a place where parents who can’t afford daycare can send their babies and preschoolers for care during the day while the parents work.

The creche consists of a large kitchen and dining area, several classrooms, a baby crib dormatory, and a playground area. It’s colorful, clean, and a cozy place for little ones to spend the days when parents work.

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The inside of the center has recently been painted, so on Saturday and Sunday, volunteers from the INC came in waves to scrub the outside walls of the center, scrape away old paint and respackle where necessary, and then paint. Some even picked up trash off of the seemingly little-used playground.

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By the end of the weekend, stained concrete walls were dazzling with new color, and the rejuvenated creche was ready and waiting for the families on Monday. INC service coordinator Becky Atwell can be justly proud.

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Volunteers came individually or as couples or as families, and everyone jumped right into the thick of things, no matter what their age. It made us proud to be part of such a generous community, which supports several such nonprofit organizations in the city.

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