Credit union presents 3rd, 4th ball drop prizes; Ivins man pays it forward to aid Guatemalan children

L-R: Rebekah Pectol, Randy Carter, Bill Wolfe, credit union employee. SouthWest Community Credit Union awards prizes to Carter and Wolfe, donated for the United Way Dixie Ball Drop for Charity. St. George, Utah, Nov. 19, 2014| Photo courtesy of United Way Dixie Executive Director Rebekah Pectol, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — Third grand prize and fourth prize awarded in the fall’s “United Way Dixie Ball Drop for Charity” were presented by sponsor SouthWest Community Credit Union in St. George Wednesday: $1,000 to Ivins resident Bill Wolfe and an Apple iPad to St. George resident Randy Carter.  Wolfe turned right around the same day, he said, and donated his $1,000 winnings to help underprivileged children in Guatemala and Carter gifted his iPad to his wife.

Both men had the desire to serve the community, they said, when they donated $20 to support the ball drop event, which ultimately took place Oct. 24 in conjunction with the SwitchPoint Community Resource Center ribbon cutting and grand opening. United Way Dixie has been providing services to Washington County for 20 years; and 100 percent of funds raised through the “United Way Dixie Ball Drop for Charity” this year went to 17 nonprofit organizations, its Executive Director Rebekah Pectol said at the ball drop event.

Bill Wolfe displays the $1,000 check was awarded from SouthWest Community Federal Credit Union for his participation in the United Way Dixie Ball Drop on Oct. 24, St. George, Utah, Nov. 19, 2014 | Photo courtesy of Rebekah Pectol, for St. George News
Bill Wolfe displays the $1,000 check from SouthWest Community Federal Credit Union awarded for his participation in the United Way Dixie Ball Drop for Charity on Oct. 24, St. George, Utah, Nov. 19, 2014 | Photo courtesy of United Way Dixie Executive Director Rebekah Pectol, St. George News

Third place winner pays it forward

Wolfe, a transplant from Vermont, took a flight to Guatemala 30 minutes after he received his award, he said, and donated his winnings to help children in need. He has given support to needy individuals in Guatemala for the past 15 years through a nonprofit organization he created called American Amistad Foundation Inc. American amistad means American friendship, he said.

Wolfe created American Amistad so he could legally assist children with medical, educational and living needs. The idea for the foundation came, Wolfe said, when he went to Guatemala to learn Spanish because his daughter had married a Latino. When he met two underprivileged children there, he wanted to help them, he said.

Within the past 15 years, Wolfe has helped 20 kids by bringing them to the U.S. to a Shiner’s Hospital location for medical attention, housing them within his own home or supporting them to live elsewhere, or by providing for their education financially.

Two of the children he has helped include a girl who had to have her leg amputated because of a medical condition and another girl born with no arms or legs. Both of these girls have grown up begging for money to get by, Wolfe said, but are now receiving college education and becoming able to support themselves.

“I enjoy adventure and seeing kids have the ability to do what they want to do in life,” he said.

Although Wolfe has not publicized his foundation, he has received thousands of dollars in donations over the years from people he has casually told about his efforts, he said. The reason he doesn’t publicize the foundation is that providing aid to the people of Guatemala can be a good but also dangerous thing.

“It’s ok to do service in Guatemala, but do it safely,” he said. “I have a knife and a stun gun while I am there. You have to be careful.”

Gangs and other low-income people reside within the country and can become demanding or physically violent if they know someone has money and is providing for people within their country, Wolfe said. He has to make sure his residence within the country remains unknown, he said, or he could become a target of violence.

Since he moved to Utah a few years ago, Wolfe’s support of the Guatemalans has decreased as his desire to support the Washington County community, and other needs within the U.S., has grown, he said. When he heard about SwitchPoint Community Resource Center he wanted to support that effort and so participated in United Way Dixie’s ball drop fundraiser.

Ryan Carter holds the iPad he was awarded by SouthWest Community Federal Credit Union for his participation in the United Way Dixie Ball Drop for Charity on Oct. 24, St. George, Utah, Nov. 19, 2014 | Photo courtesy of Rebekah Pectol, St. George News
Randy Carter holds the iPad he was awarded by SouthWest Community Federal Credit Union for his participation in the United Way Dixie Ball Drop for Charity on Oct. 24, St. George, Utah, Nov. 19, 2014 | Photo courtesy of United Way Dixie Executive Director Rebekah Pectol, St. George News

Fourth place winner regifts to his wife

Carter, who won the iPad, said he has always been lucky to win prizes on the radio and otherwise. He has won a vacation and a check for $1,200 at various drawings, he said, and wanted to give back to the community by donating money to United Way Dixie.

“(United Way Dixie) is an amazing program,” Carter said. “They do such great things to help those in need within the community.”

Carter gave the iPad to his wife to use to take pictures during their upcoming trip to Costa Rica, he said, as well as other uses.

First and second place winners

The grand prize winner, Dale Johnson, won a PT Cruiser convertible donated by Premier Car and Truck; and the second place grand prize winner Ken LeFevre won a pool table valued at $6,000 donated by KCSG Television, both previously presented.

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Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2014, all rights reserved.

 

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