From CKTimes.ca, Wallaceburg's internet newspaper
Wallaceburg couple are on an important mission.......
Tuesday, June 5, 2007
When Barry & Judy Puskas of Wallaceburg traveled to Mexico in
1999, little did they know that it would be the start of a very
rewarding mission. They were on a visit to good friends in Comitan,
Chiapas, Mexico, one of the poorest areas of the country. During
their visit, they were shown around 2 Albergues (shelters) set up by
the Catholic church and an order of Dominican Nuns. These shelters
house anywhere from 50 to 100 children, ranging in age from newborn
to 18 years. The children had very little and received little or no
financial support from the church or the city.
Upon the Puskas’ return home, they decided that they would try to
raise funds for these kids. What started out small, (they sold
snack-sized bags of candy, held draws, etc at their place of work,
the Judy Lamarsh Building in Chatham) has over the last 8 years
grown to being able to raise just under $30,000.00 Canadian or just
over $237,000.00 pesos, every cent of which has gone to the
With the help of a small dedicated group of friends and co-workers,
they are bringing much joy to these children.
In 2002, the Puskas’ were awarded the Queen Elizabeth II Golden
Jubilee medal for their work with the kids.
They have been able to provide funds for several computers,
playground equipment, beds, mattresses, clothing, new kitchens,
photocopier (used to sell copies to the public), a variety store (to
help them raise their own money), painting of the buildings, repairs
and additions to bathrooms and showers, to name a few things. They
also provide money each year at Christmas to provide each child with
new clothing, a Christmas present, and a Christmas dinner. They have
provided funds for one boy to have chest surgery, another girl to
have medical attention to a blind eye.
They again visited the children in October of 2005, and provided
pizza and pop for all the children, also bringing loads of gifts
from Canada and, thanks to then M.P. RoseMarie Ur, many Canadian
flags, pins, tattos, etc.
Their greatest gift, in their opinion, is regarding a young girl
named Roselia (Rosy).
Since the age of 8, Rosy had been diagnosed with cancer of the
esophagus. The Puskas’ provided money for part of her treatments,
but, it was felt that the cancer was incurable. Then, about a year
ago, a doctor was found that was willing to do the surgery to remove
the tumour. The operation would cost about $3500.00 Canadian. Funds
were raised and the money sent. The operation was a success, but,
another tumour was found on her face. The second operation was
performed. Recently, Barry & Judy were notified that Rosy was
doing exceedingly well. She was able to go back to school and was
taking a computer course. They have just been notified that Rosy has
now left the Albergue and is on her own, but sends thanks for all
they have done for her and supported her throughout her ordeal.
The Puskas’ invite everyone to visit them at their website: www.mexicanorphans.ckhomes.net
Wallaceburg Couple Make the World a Better Place for Mexican
By Jim Williams
Tuesday, May 11, 2004
Members of the Guillen family deliver a Christmas gift to
the folks at the Casa Hogar Don Bosco Orphanage.
Guillermo Guillen as Santa in Southern Mexico.
The kids are grateful for the Puskas' donations.
In December 2002, Barry and Judy Puskas were awarded the Queen's
Golden Jubilee Medal for making fellow Canadians proud. From 1999 to
2001, the Wallaceburg couple had raised over $6000 for two
orphanages in Southern Mexico. With the help of their colleagues at
the Judy LeMarsh Building, they have doubled that number.
In 1999, Barry and Judy Puskas traveled to Southern Mexico to visit
their friends, the Guillen family. During their 19-day stay in the
state of Chiapas, they journeyed to remote areas and met people from
various walks of life. "We wanted to see the real people
experiencing real life in Mexico," said Barry Puskas.
The people and conditions that really "pulled at their heart
strings" of the Puskas' were the children living at the Casa
Hogar Don Bosco (girls) and San Martin De Porres (boys) orphanages.
"These children live in abject poverty," Puskas said.
He says the facilities are actually shelters, rather than
orphanages. Although they are run by an order of the Dominican nuns,
they receive no funding from the church or state. Instead, they must
rely on private donations to continue providing shelter, education
and a sense of security for abandoned, abused and parentless
"Our first instinct was to ask ourselves how we could
help." he said. The couple went immediately to a local market
and filled a vehicle with $80 worth of food for the children. During
the flight home, they decided that assisting the shelters was going
to be a long-term commitment.
With the support of their managers at the Judy LeMarsh Building, the
Puskas' started a donation drive at work. Within months, they had
collected $850 worth of toys and money to send to the orphans as a
Christmas gift. Through the sale of a Mexican cookbook, authored by
Judy Puskas, bags of candy and various fund-raisers, the couple has
wired $12,150 to the shelters.
"The people at the J.L.B. have taken the kids into their
hearts." Puskas said. One employee hosted a Mexican theme
Christmas party and collected over $100 in a donation box marked for
the children. In another instance, a fellow employee donated money
collected at a family member's funeral. "At a time of deep
personal pain, she was inclined to be generous to people she had
never met," Puskas commented.
Puskas claims the success of the fundraising is based on trust.
Because it is not a registered charity, people must have faith that
their donations are reaching the intended audience. Likewise, the
Puskas' entrust the Guillen family to deliver the money to the
"We are proud to say that every dollar donated reaches the
children," Barry Puskas said. He saves spare change during the
year to cover the costs of wiring the money to Mexico.
Recently, Guillermo Guillen sent the Puskas' an update on the
positive things happening as a result of their benevolence. The
$2000 that was sent at Christmas was used to purchase clothing and a
gift for each of the 50 to 100 children living at each shelter. The
money also paid for the construction of a basketball court and the
painting of both facilities.
At Easter, another $600 was sent by the couple. It was used to add
two new bathroom facilities, complete with baths and showers, to the
boy's shelter. Before then, 50 boys, aged 18 months to 18 years old,
the nuns and caretakers shared two toilets.
During the past year, Barry Puskas retired from his job in the
Canada Pension and Disabilities office at the Judy LeMarsh Building.
His wife still works there and the spirit of generosity of her
colleagues is undying, he said. He would return to Mexico "in a
heart beat" but his health simply does not permit it.
They frequently receive thank you letters from the children and
maintain regular communication with the Guillen family. In a recent
photograph, they noticed one young girl wearing a patch over her
left eye. They wanted a portion of their donations to be spent on
proper medical attention for the girl. Although the eye was
permanently damaged, the nuns and the Guillens were able to replace
the hard plastic patch with a more comfortable cloth one.
"It is our wish that the children have the opportunity to
experience the small pleasures we take for granted." Puskas
said. He and his wife plan to keep the fund-raiser going as long as
they possibly can.
Mexican holiday leads to labour of love for Wallaceburg couple
Tuesday, February 25, 2003
There are Barry and Judy Puskas with their Queen's Golden
Judy and Barry with some of the girls.
Barry with some of his friends in Mexico.
A shot of the boys from the boys orphanage.
Just a sign to say thanks.
When a Wallaceburg couple took a vacation to Mexico in 1999, they
had no idea that it would lead to them being awarded Queen's Golden
Jubilee Medals this year, but that's exactly what happened to Barry
and Judy Puskas.
While on the Mexican vacation, Barry and Judy Puskas were taken on
visits to two orphanages and what they saw had a powerful effect on
them. "It was instantaneous love," said Barry. "We
fell in love with the kids."
Barry and Judy were visiting friends in the Chiapas area of Mexico
to celebrate their 25th wedding anniversary. Their Mexican friends
took them to the orphanages, one for girls and the other for boys,
to see if the children were in need of anything.
"These orphanages are really shelters," said Barry.
"They are sponsored by the Catholic church but receive
absolutely no funding. Our friends are supporters of the
The Puskas found that the children were entirely dependent on
private donations to survive. The day after being introduced to the
orphanages, they went out and bought a carload of food and delivered
it to the children. But they wanted to do more.
"On the flight home, we talked about it a lot," Barry
said. "It was nice that we took the food, but we thought there
should be something more we could do."
They decided to get their fellow employees at the Judy LeMarsh
Building in Chatham involved in their effort. Initially, they placed
boxes around the building and asked for donations of new and used
"After three months, we'd gathered about three boxes of
stuff," Barry said, "so I went to the post office to mail
it and the bill was $110. I thought of all the good that could have
been done with that cash. That's when we started to raise and send
Indeed, Barry and Judy have raised the cash in a variety of ways.
They've sold small bags of candy, produced a cookbook and Judy has
even offered Mexican cooking classes in their home. Once the money
has been raised, it's sent to their Mexican friends for use at the
orphanages. So far, they've sent about $8,000. "The money is
used to buy toys, clothes, school supplies and food," said
The pair were presented with their Golden Jubilee Medals at a brief
ceremony in Chatham in December after being nominated by a
"We knew we were nominated," Barry said, "but we
didn't really think it would qualify. It was a great shock when we
heard – we were speechless."
The couple say they'll keep doing what they're doing for as long as
they can. "We'll keep it going as long as we can," said
Barry. "As long as our co-workers stay as generous as they have
On throwing up, Vice City and meeting some great people!
Tuesday, February 25, 2003
As most people who read this space regularly already know, I'm
not much of a fan of the modern media. I watch very little TV and
seldom read a newspaper. Back in the late 1980's, I came to the
realization that I didn't need all the negative junk that the media
was feeding me. I didn't need a constant and steady diet of sex,
violence, profanity and on and on. So, I switched myself off. This
winter, though, I've found myself in front of the TV again a few
times and, man, how things have changed over the last 15 years.
First, and I know I've mentioned this before, the new style of
camerawork used for nearly all productions involves the constant
flashing of images at the viewer at a very fast pace. I've guessed
that images are generally flashed in our direction every three to
five seconds. Now, I believe that some marketing guru somewhere has
developed this wonderful technique in a quite deliberate attempt to
get us to consume more stuff – which is what we have to do to keep
the economy rolling. The problem I have is that I have what older
people refer to as a "weak stomach". In other words, I
tend to get something akin to motion sickness fairly easily. The
result of the images flashing at about the speed of light on my TV
screen is that I have a strong urge to throw up. I get dizzy and
nauseous trying to watch TV these days. Movies in the theatre have
exactly the same effect. When I went to see the last Lord of the
Rings movie, I had to sit right at the back of the theatre, and,
even then, had to close my eyes once in while when the world started
to whirl. Is anybody else noticing this rather strange phenomenon?
My wife made an astute observation about this the other night. She
thinks that if the images start flashing much more quickly, they'll
start to blur back into each other and produce the same type of
image we used to see back in about the 1920's. Strange, but true.
Also in the strange but true category, how about this one? I've got
two movies in my hands. I take a look at the ratings on the back of
both of them. One is rated PG13 – it is described as having
violence, sexual content, mature themes, drug content and about
three other nasty things. Remember, this is rated as PG13. Then, I
check the other one. It's rated R – it is described as having
violence and sexual content and that's it. Now, to me, the first
movie looks much, much worse than the second. Then why is it rated
PG13 while the seemingly less offensive movie is rated R? How can
this happen? You simply can't get away from the filth in the modern
media – and I'm no prude – I can take it. But I'm not sure it's
necessary to have oodles of sex, violence and language in pretty
well every movie and TV show that's available these days. Do you
know there's a TV channel out there that's devoted to nothing but
sex? It's true. I've said this before and I'll say it again –
we're living through the decline of the American Empire and when any
great empire sinks into decline, its society becomes filled with
excesses of all kinds and morality goes out the window. In effect,
we are fiddling while America burns. If you don't believe what I'm
saying, check out a video game called Vice City. This is really neat
stuff – a video game that teaches people to steal, murder and
generally have fun doing a variety of morally depraved things. When
I was first exposed to Vice City, I suggested it be used in schools
in the inner cities to help with life training – a perverse
comment, but not nearly as perverse as the game itself. Take a look
around, folks. I'm afraid it's the Soddom and Gomorah (sp.) thing.
Sorry to get ranting so, but sometimes I just feel the need. I'm
working hard to make cktimes a positive alternative to the
mainstream media, but there are times when it's tough to be
positive. That's because I feel we're getting bad advice on where we
should be going in life. We should be working hard to make a
positive difference in the world – and that's why I've so enjoyed
doing the cktimes project. Most of the people I've been meeting in
my travels have been those very people who are trying to make a
positive difference in their communities. People like Barry and Judy
Puskas. These fine Wallaceburg folks were on a vacation in Mexico
when they discovered children in need at a local orphanage. Well,
they came back to Canada determined to make a difference and that's
exactly what they've done. They've selflessly raised money and
helped out those kids and made some lives better as the result. And
it's not just the kids whose lives have been improved – it's also
been Barry and Judy and everyone else who's helped in their
fundraising efforts – all of those people have been made better
people – that's how it works. One little act of kindness can go a
long way. Remember, life may not be fair, but that doesn't mean we
shouldn't struggle to try to make it fair. It's the least we can do.