It started a decade ago with house-building expeditions. Along the way, a church was erected. Now, Ken LaPoint and ULBC Casabuilders‘ volunteers are working on a new children’s home located in the countryside between Tijuana and Tecate, Mexico.
Ken explains: “Over the years that we were building houses for local residents, we’d walk past an orphanage. We got to know the kids, and they’d help us with our projects. For about two years, I ended up going down once a month, spending a weekend with the kids. My Spanish was terrible, but I learned about the kids’ situation and their needs. My goal was to figure out some programs for these kids, particularly the ones who ‘fell out’ the backdoor of the orphanage.
“We got lucky. A local rancher heard about what we were doing and gave us five acres. In 2007, we started building a new children’s home, which will eventually house 12, and expect to be finished by summer 2014. We’ve already completed a visitor’s center with 50 beds as we’re out in the middle of nowhere and need a place for our volunteers to stay.
Most of Ken’s ULBC (Unless the Lord Builds the Casa) volunteers are members of Christian congregations participating on mission trips typically lasting four to five days. “I grew up in a Christian family and began my personal walk with Jesus when I was a senior in high school,” he says. “I thought about being a musician and also a minister before becoming a general contractor. I’ve been active at Menlo Park Presyberterian Church as a worship leader.”
Sitting with Ken at his home in Atherton, it’s hard to miss the large wooden cross propped up against the the fireplace. “My wife Annie said she wanted a big cross for the garden, but when I made it for her, she decided she didn’t want it outside,” he says. “It reminds us of the wonderful trail up a hill in Mexico where there are three crosses.”
Church groups and unaffiliated individuals, Christian or not, are welcome as children’s home building volunteers. The Casabuilders website has a trip calendar as well as a contact form to find out more information.
Photos by Scott R. Kline