The Venado Community Center
The Venado Community Center is a platform for community-driven initiatives. It is a fun and safe place for community members to gather, learn, and express themselves. The center is made up of two houses renovated in January 2014 with the help of 30 volunteers from Venado.
The center is staffed in the afternoons by our Community Center Manager, Carmen Leal, and Assistant, Paola, who are both residents of Venado. Thanks to our internship program, international volunteers and local residents have kept the center open full time.
During a typical day at the community center, you’ll find the computer room and the children’s center open from 4-6pm. The center is filled with laughs, smiles, singing, and dancing. Some larger events hosted at the center include Día de Niños, where 150 people gather to celebrate Venado’s children, and the annual Christmas Party, where every child receives a present.
The Children’s Center provides a space for kids to play after school from 3-5pm. When the Venado Community Center opened in January 2014, the Stone family arrived with nine 50lb bags of donations from the community of Rye, NY. These bags were stuffed full of toys, musical instruments, art supplies, sports equipment, and more. These donations contribute to the enriching, engaging atmosphere of the after-school daycare. If you are headed to Costa Rica and would like to bring donations, we are always looking for new toys, paints, and games!
COMPUTER EDUCATION PROGRAM
At the Community Center, the Computer Lab is a free place for locals to learn computer skills and connect to the rest of the world. Jobs can be hard to come by in Guanacaste, and training in computer programs gives individuals a competitive edge as applicants. Our secure computer room includes eight laptops, basic office furniture, teaching materials, a whiteboard, and an A/C unit.
The Thrift Shop sells donated goods at discounted prices. This empowers locals and fuels economy, giving individuals the opportunity to purchase their own belongings instead of relying on donations. If you’re traveling to Costa Rica, pack with a purpose and donate your old clothes, jewelry, sports gear, etc. to the second hand shop. All sales go right back to the community center!
Clara Vista works with local community members to create their own businesses and support their families. In 2017, we hosted a training program, led by Aprende y Emprende, where 15 women created business plans for their own initiatives. Since then, the Municipality of Santa Cruz has hosted monthly meetings to check in on their projects and provide a forum to discuss their challenges. The Club 4-S supports those women in their projects, especially related to organic agriculture.
MICRO LOAN PROGRAM
In 2019, Clara Vista started a micro loan program so that local entrepreneurs could take an interest-free loan to help develop their micro businesses. Thanks to this program, our kind and talented Raquel was able to buy all the materials and products that she needed to properly start her business here in Venado. The locals awarded a micro loan also able to attend classes to learn how to develop their businesses, use Excel, manage their finances, and how to improve their English.
Due to the increasing number of tourists in the area, locals now offer tours and activities in Venado, so that you can learn more about their wonderful local knowledge and traditions.
Find out about the tours HERE.
Who knew surfboards could promote community, environment, health, and small business? The Surf Mentor Program does just that. In January 2015, Gary Stone (an affiliate and co-founder of Clara Vista) taught 15 surfers how to build and repair surfboards. The boards are available at our community center for the community to share and to rent to tourists. Come and rent yours!
Fun is a priority in Venado! Since 2017, the Fun Committee has organized community events such as movie nights, Día de los Niños, bingo, and the annual community-wide Christmas party.
Clara Vista has worked on environmental projects in Venado since 2011. Through the environmental-advocacy program, National Blue Flag, Venado has earned four new blue flags. Venado has an active cleaning committee that hosts monthly cleaning campaigns across the village.
The CEN (Education and Nutrition Centers) makes monthly visits to the Community Center to give nutritious milk to moms and their children. A nutritionist also visits to facilitate workshops on nutrition, organic gardening, and health.
Recently created, the Sport Commitee organize soccer games and more!
Thanks to your donations, we’ve been able to give art classes to children and teenagers in Venado. Some teenagers even created a group, where they paint and make jewelry in order to sell them; a great way for them to have fun while earning some money!