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Refugio Dulce, The Sweet Refuge PDF Print
Residents of Refugio Dulce in the Palapa
May 20, 2016
by Kitty Kenworthy
Photography by Jim Kenworthy

Thanks to the kind hearts and generosity of many people on the Rio, the lovely old folks in the Refugio Dulce home for abandoned elders are enjoying some of the bare comforts and dignity we all take for granted.

Water Well Under Construction
Just after this last Christmas, Denny Gluck of Denny’s Beach Resort (http://dennysbeach.com/) popped in to see how the old folks were doing. He was shocked by the apathy and blank faces. He immediately went out and bought a big TV and some festive fare for the coming New Year. The old folks didn't have aids to help them out into the palapa, where the TV had to be installed, so Denny carried them out watch it. Thus having run somewhat low on funds, after providing many of the basic necessities out of his own pocket, Denny contacted his good friend Roy, on m/v Steel Magnolia, who suggested that Denny contact Pass It On, and there he found some of the help he desperately needed. 


Shopping at Refugio Dulce

The old folks needed walkers and wheelchairs, so Julia, Director of Pass It On, recommended Denny get in touch with Mike Rhea at Rhea of Hope Orphanage. Mike often works with Vine International who reconditions wheelchairs and walkers for the less well off. Mike visited the Refugio, and according to Denny, said very little, but took it all in. About four days later, Mike returned with two wheelchairs and two walkers in his car. Then, Vine International arrived, monitored the facility, and made notes of each individual's needs. Vine renovated the existing walkers and wheelchairs, and provided more for the residents who needed them. Finally, the old folks had equipment, and with real wheels and brakes!

Physiotherapists from the Hearts in Motion clinic, in Gualan, came to visit, and provided canes, crutches, and many walkers. They also looked at each patient, and ended the day of their visit with calisthenics! They are an amazing group who maintain a clinic every day at the hospital in Zacapa, and treat anyone in need of help. They also sponsor groups of surgeons and specialists. 

Shoes for Residents

Following these wonderful events, Pass It On volunteers arrived with many very generous donations from the Rio Dulce community, including clothes, shoes, toiletries, combs and brushes, and dominoes, cards, radios, and CD players. All were refurbished and laid out so residents could 'shop.'

During the volunteers’ first visit to the Refugio Dulce, Denny explained the water problems at the home. The town water there is not reliable. The old folks were suffering from lack of bathing, and the facility was less than fragrant. How Denny struggled to get them bathed and clean! Fortunately, there are some exceedingly generous folk around the Rio, not wanting public acknowledgement, who chipped in to help with some of the costs of improving the water situation. These aren't rich people, but they are the compassionate and caring people who help to make the Rio the special place it is. Now volunteers and these contributors have been able to help Denny get a potable water system installed at the home.

At present, decent clothing, including the very successful and appreciated ‘undies for oldies’ project, and provision of badly needed shoes, have been delivered to Refugio Dulce. There are three aids to help them, now. The atmosphere of the home has changed from the morose acceptance of a dismal day-to-day existence to a much happier and more comfortable environment. It is a joy to visit these people and share their smiles and hugs. Denny continues to do all the local husbanding and leg work for facilitating necessities and repairs, and communicating with Pass It On and volunteers to let us know the most pressing needs. 


Our current project and goal is the paving of the small palapa so that the less ambulatory can get outside for fresh air and to watch the fine new TV. Denny has Q750 from a cruiser here on the river to start the project, and only needs Q750 more to do the job. Any further donations would be greatly appreciated.

The changes at Refugio Dulce have been made because of Denny's tenacity and the commitment and generosity of many people. If you would like to help, or make suggestions or donations, please contact Denny at This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it , Pass It On at www.passitonguatemala.com, or volunteer, Kitty Kenworthy at This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it .

Continuing care is vitally needed to help this very important facility. It is the only one of its kind in a large surrounding area. Refugio Dulce is the only old folk's home from Chiquimula to Puerto Barrios and beyond. This includes Rio Dulce.
Helping this home is an undertaking to cherish, and the rewards to the giving heart are incredible. You may go to www.passitonguatemala.com  to see numerous photos of the home and the people who live there. Feel free to give Pass It On a call (+502 3280-6802) if you’d like to visit, or contribute to the effort, in any way. Our many thanks are given to all those who have been helping. We welcome any new volunteers who would like to join us.

Editor's Note: A portion of the proceeds from the Pass It On Charity Auction, this Sunday, May 22, will be donated to the Refugio Dulce. See the notice in the previous article...and plan to attend!

More Shopping

Denny, of Denny's Beach, in the Palapa, Center

Water Well Under Construction


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