by Susan Dearing

On January 3, 1993, Enrique Corey Garcia, son of John and Esperanza Corey, was killed in a tragic automobile accident. I only knew Enrique to say "hello" at John and Pera's restaurant, "Juanito's," a popular eatery frequented by both Mexican and foreign touirsts and locals.

Enrique was 18 years old at the time of his death. He had finished his Mexican military service and was enrolled in the Instituto Tecnologico de Estudios Superiores de Occidente in Guadalajara, where he was studying industrial engineering. Enrique ranked first in his class.

He was also quite an athlete, playing with the Manzanillo Cyclones, a U.S.-styled football team. He was nicknamed the "Pacific Wall," for his ability in blocking the opposition. Enrique also helped his parents in their family restaurant.

These lovely ladies who attended the Dinner Dance aren't strangers to fundraising and helping kids. They operate Los Angelitos Casa Hogar, a children's home in Manzanillo that currently houses almost 30 boys and girls ranging in age from 2 to 18 years.

Everyone in Manzanillo was affected by Enrique's untimely death. Many of us looked upon his dad, John Corey, as our personal mentor, problem solver and friend. We were at a loss as to how to give comfort to John and his family. We should do something, we all said...but what?

Left to right: John Corey with close friend Rafael Canet, manager of Radio Turquesa,and John's son Carlos. The Dinner Dance, which was held at the Hotel Sierra, celebrated its 10th anniversary. Those who attended reported that it was one of the best events ever to be held in Manzanillo. For a video clip of the band in action, click here.

Then, Larry and Maria Reynolds, Americans living in Manzanillo, came up with an idea. Larry and Maria had known Enrique since he was a young boy. They recalled him returning from elementary school to the restaurant, the loving embraces he received from his family, and the hugs and smiles he gave in return. As close friends of John and Esperanza, the Reynolds knew what a terrible loss this was, and wanted to do something to help ease the pain and make something good come out of such a terrible tragedy.

Owners of Hotel La Posada, Juan and Lisa Martinez, not only contributed by buying tickets for themselves, but also for their staff. As newcomers to Manzanillo (they took over the hotel in April 2003), they are already involved in helping the community. Other hotel owners and managers who contributed and/or attended the Dinner-Dance came from the Hotel Marbella, Hotel Sierra, Hotel Riscos La Audiencia, La Pergola, and Hotel Villas Los Angeles.
Educating the community's underprivileged children, Larry and Maria (pictured on left) thought, was the answer, and a scholarship fund, the perfect way to achieve this goal. Their friends, and friends of the Coreys concurred, so in February of 1993, the Fondo Escolar Enrique Corey Garcia (FEEC) was founded. The scholarship fund was established in Enrique's memory to assist in the education of gifted students who lack the financial means to continue their schooling past sixth grade.

Through the years, many friends in the community have supported the cause to make this possible. The group's slogan, thought up by Susie Canet, "To give a child the best gift: Education," has taken on a special meaning to the Manzanillo community. Through local fund-raising efforts there are now more 30 children in the program, which began in 1994 by awarding the first 3 scholarships. Two of those students graduated from high school in July 2000. One student received numerous scholastic awards throughout her six years in the scholarship program. 

Carlos Cuellar, chairman of the Dinner Dance Committee with Reyna Garcia (left), queen of all ticket sellers, and sister of Esperanza Corey, and Lic. Lourdes Prieta (right). Other people receiving recognition on the evening of the dance included Elena Oliver de Navarro, one of the original founders of FEEC, Nigel and Freda Rumford, of Manzamigos, Manzanillo's "help" organization, and Salvador Gama and family for donating school shoes every year to the students in the scholarship fund.

Each year additional scholarships are added; the number is dependent on the success of FEECs only annual fundraiser: the FEEC DinnerDance, traditionally held at the Hotel Sierra. The treasurer, FEECs accountant, and the president of the board assess the available monies and determines the number of students added. Once selected, the student receives a scholarship each year, through high school. 

Maria Luisa Ruiz (left), cheerfully lent a helping hand (while looking beautiful, too) since the foundation's president, Froilan Ramos, had to be out of town with the University of Colima's Ballet Folklorico. As part of Manzanillo's Sister City program with St. Paul, Sr. Ramos accompanied the dance troupe to Minnesota.

The FEEC Dinner Dance gives everyone a chance to wear their finest evening apparel, like the two lovely women on the right.

The requirements for consideration for a scholarship are a minimum 8.5 grade point average out of a possible 10 points, and there must be a proven financial need. Applications are submitted by the principals of 5 primary schools in the Santiago-Salagua area. Selection is made by the Student Coordinating Team. In order to make special the awarding of the scholarships, recipients are invited to an award luncheon, where they receive two certificates. One certificate acknowledges their scholastic achievement and the other certificate provides for such items as uniforms, supplies, school fees, transportation, etc.

Yulennnie Alexandra Villaseņor Diaz, scholarship recipient, welcomes guests to the 10th Anniversary Dinner Dance. Her speech was in English. She attends classes full time, and is a 4th level student at the EuroAmerican School of English, located on Blvd. Miguel de la Madrid & Calle #1 Infonavit.

Carlos Cuellar, chairman of the Dinner Dance, commends recipients of the scholarship fund, and thanks family and friends of John and Esperanza Corey for their continued support. Almost 200 people attended the January 31 FEEC Dinner Dance.


Daniela Mongerrat Guerra Ochoa gives the welcoming speech in Spanish. The girls, aged 13 and 14, are in secondary school (high school). Both girls maintain a high grade-point average, and plan to continue their educatoin.. Daniela also completed level 4 at the EuroAmerican School.

This year, the scholarship fund enjoyed seeing its first student graduate from college, Armando Ayala, and had 5 participants graduate from level four at the EuroAmerican School of English, owned by Eva Ayala (no relation to Armando). Numeorus stores support the scholarship fund by allowing the students to charge school-related items, which are then billed back to FEEC.

The president of the board is Froilan Ramos, who is also director of Manzanillo's archeological museum. No member of the board of directors, or any other supporter receives any form of remuneration for their hard work and services. All time and effort spent to organize FEECs annual January dinner dance is donated. Last year, more than 200 people attended the dance. This year the dance will be held on January 27, 2007. It includes a cocktail hour from 7-8 p.m. and a delicious dinner, complimentary glasses of wine, and a rich cake for dessert. Cost is $500 pesos. Tax and tip included. You may bring your own wine and pay $75 pesos/bottle, or hard liquor at $170/bottle. Set-ups will be provided by the Hotel Tesoro. This is your one chance to get all dressed up and boogie! Be sure and come. Call Carlos Cuellar or Susan Dearing for tickets at 333-3678.

Happy faces

at Happy Hour!

Last year, the dancing started immediately, with music ranging from the Bee Gees, Beatles, Elton John, old-time favorites like "New York, New York," and, or course, classic salsa and merengue. The dance floor filled, and the music ranged from fast-paced to slow and romantic. With only one short break for introductions (made by  Dance Committee chairman Carlos Cuellar) and "thank yous" made by students Yulenie Alexandra Villaseņor Diaz and Daniela Mongerrat Guerra Ochoa, the band, called "Besos de Cristal," played and gyrated for more than 4 hours. This year promises to be more the the same great fun and dancing!

The children who participate in the FEEC program honor Enrique's memory by continuing in school. The rest of us who participate pay tribute to Enrique by providing the financial support these children need to stay in school and maintain high grades.  With FEEC, all enrollees are guaranteed that a lack of financial resources will not prevent them from reaching his or her highest scholastic potential.

As with all not-for-profit organizations, FEEC needs volunteers. If you'd like to donate your time, and/or money, write:

For more photos of the gala event, visit our Photo Gallery.