Are you ready for an adventure that will grow your heart, tire your body and happify your mind?
Welcome to Finding Sophia, a unique women's service retreat weekend.
Just a willing body,
and an open heart
Ten years ago, Trish Ward and Heidi Boynton had been working with other teams building houses in Mexico. They were cool experiences and gave them a spark for a different kind of trip. Both Trish and Heidi have always had a passion for creating platforms for women to see themselves, their abilities and potential in a new and different light. After years of building houses with the larger teams, they wondered back in 2007 - what would it be like to bring a group of women together for a 3 day weekend of giving and learning? Could they design a trip that was a retreat AND service project? They reached out Hector, THE main man in Mexico who builds hundreds of houses every year and asked him what he thought..."Could 15 women build a house in a day?", His answer, "Of course!". With that confirmation from Hector, Finding Sophia began.
The first trip was in September 2007, a home was built for a single Mom, Teresa, and her family of five. They went from living underneath a large blue tarp full of holes, to a sturdy home and roof over their heads. It was an exciting beginning! It wasn't long before Marisol jumped in to help translate for us and then became a part of Finding Sophia's volunteer team. Trish, Heidi, and Marisol donate 100% of their time and resources. There is no paid staff, all of the funds raised go directly to help the families - specifically single mom led families if possible. Over the last ten years, there have been 20 + houses built and lots of happy Moms, daughters, cousins, sisters, brothers, dads, neighbors and Finding Sophia ladies laughing, crying and loving right alongside each other.
The purpose of Finding Sophia is to bring women together outside of their everyday lives and experience the power of giving and getting love. Over the weekend, we will both give in big ways to others and give back to ourselves. This trip combines the hard work of building a home with yoga, meditation, contemplation and lots of laughter. It can be easy to get lost in the BUSY-ness of everyday life. It's not uncommon to feel like our ability to make an impact on the world seems...well it can feel overwhelming. Finding Sophia is designed to show how we can give back, how one day in a persons life can make a huge impact both on the one receiving and the one giving. Handing a family a simple bag of food may not get them out of their current situation, it can, however, make that night's dinner a little brighter. Seeing how we can give in ways that make a small and/or big change for someone can help us see our lives back home a little differently. We hope that you will see glimpses of wisdom in giving your time, heart, and love to others. What we give out to the world comes right back to us...we give love and we get love. Friday is spent building all day, Saturday we combine a morning of optional meditation, and yoga with prep for the day spent in the local community. We will hand out food bags and donations to the families surrounding the home we build as well as other local neighborhoods. Sunday, we finish off the weekend together with a closing optional meditation, yoga, free time to wander the grounds of the beautiful ranch we stay at before we head back over the border to the airport.
By building the house for a single mother, we give her a chance to change her future, for herself and for her children. We believe an important step up in life is feeling safe, having a clean, dry place to sleep at night, and having a locking front door. The families we build for typically live in a shanty-style home with dirt floors. The home we build is approximately 500 sq feet, with two bedrooms, a living area, and a loft. We fund and build a latrine (permanent outhouse) adjacent to the home. When building, we wire the house for electricity but the families are responsible for connecting to the power company. The homes do not have running water. The house is made of a cement foundation, wood framing, wood siding, shingle roof, and a sheetrock interior. We paint the exterior and do not paint the interior. The new locking door and secure windows are a welcome sight to a family, handing over the keys to their new home on Friday is an experience not easily forgotten.
It can be intimidating to go somewhere new, and we hope you'll join us. Trust yourself and take time for yourself to give with your heart, your hands, your mind, and your time. The return on your investment will be more than you ever imagined.
why finding sophia?
Sophia, in the Greek language, is the female representation of God's wisdom.
Each time we complete a Finding Sophia trip, we are rewarded. We arrive home with just a bit more wisdom and compassion than what we carried with us when we got there . . . hence, Finding Sophia.
This is our never-ending journey.
Who can come?
Women over 18 years old, no limit after that. We've had 18-year-olds and 80-year-olds.
For our co-ed trips, we allow all peoples 15yrs and up. These trips are once per year, see below for the upcoming date.
When do you go?
Typically, March and October of every year
Due to the worldwide pandemic of COVID-19, we are in a holding pattern for our 2020 trips.
Check back in August 2020 for updates on future trips.
What does it cost?
$450 which includes: Transportation to and from Mexico from the San Diego Airport, all food, and lodging.
Alcohol is not included, so plan to bring a few extra bucks, there is nothing like a cold beer after you've built a house. In addition, we ask each participant to raise $750.00 to cover the cost of the home we build for a single mother (see more below on how to raise the funds). You pay an additional $225 for a private studio if you don't want to stay in the dorm-style rooms.
How do I sign up?
We will update registration links when we have trip information, check back August 2020 for updates.
Finding Sophia - Once the trip fills up with 12 women, it's full. Sign up early to allow plenty of planning and fundraising time.
Build Sweat Love Co-Ed trips have a higher capacity. The trip will fill up with 30 participants.
**If you are on the waitlist we will notify you asap if someone cancels and we will help you complete your registration
Can I sign up a friend?
Yes, you can add another person to your online registration. Keep in mind, you'll need all her emergency information and she will need to sign a waiver once we are in San Diego.
What kind of identification do I need to go over the border and back again?
You need a valid passport or passport card. If you don't have one, now's the time to get it! You can find out how and where in your area to do so by following this link
What and where are the meeting times/departure times?
We will meet at the San Diego Airport Southwest terminal baggage claim (Terminal 1) at 5 pm on Thursday of the weekend. Book your flights or allow driving time to arrive at the San Diego Airport no later than 5 pm. We will depart for San Diego Airport on Sunday of the weekend and will arrive after 3 pm. Book your return flights after 5 pm on Sunday, we never know how long the returning borderline will be.
Where do we stay?
We stay at the beautiful Rancho Los Chabacanos - an amazing retreat. You'll be sharing a casita with up to 6 people and ONE bathroom, yes one bathroom. Bedding and linens are provided - we encourage you to bring a sleeping bag and your own towel(s). We will eat at the Ranch and in town at restaurants we have frequented.
What do we eat?
We provide lots of snacks, breakfast and lunch fixings and eat out at local restaurants at night. We do our best to provide fruits and options for everyone. However, if you have specific dietary needs, keep in mind we are not able to guarantee vegetarian or vegan options. It's best if you plan to bring supplemental foods/snacks to be sure you get what you need.
How does the house get paid for?
YOU!! Each participant is responsible for raising a minimum of $750 for building costs.
Every dollar you raise will go to the house and latrine we build which costs approximately $8,500 (that's pretty cheap for a WHOLE house :)).
Any funds raised above that are used on the trip, we have had community parties, bought additional supplies for the homeowner and purchased rice, beans, carrots and oranges for the families in the neighborhood. Our ability to do these extra things is determined by how much is raised.
How do I raise funds?
We have an easy to use donation platform for you to raise the $750.00 needed for the house. You'll create your own profile and be able to track how close you are to your goal. This page is set up just for you, you'll work with Marisol to build it and then use that tell your friends all about your trip.
As the date of the trip approaches, we will send you a profile of the family we are building for,
this will help you tell the story to your friends and family. If you need more ideas on fundraising,
feel free to reach out to us. All funds raised are tax-deductible, your donors will get a receipt for their donation.
What happens if I can't make the trip?
You may cancel your registration and receive a full refund minus a $50 registration fee 60 days or more before the start date of your trip. There are no refunds for cancellations made less than 45 days prior to the trip unless the spot can be filled then a refund minus $50 will be issued. We do understand that emergencies may arise, but as we are a small non-profit organization we are not able to make exceptions to this refund policy.
Finding Sophia reserves the right to cancel a trip for force majeure or any other circumstances beyond our control such as fire, floods, or safety concerns. We also reserve the right to cancel any trip if sign-up is inadequate to make the trip economically feasible for us to operate. If this happens, we give a full refund of registration fees. However, Finding Sophia is not responsible for additional expenses incurred by you in preparing for the trip (e.g., non-refundable air tickets, gear or medical expenses). Trips happen rain or shine.
Can I bring donations?
YES and...consider what you're bringing before you pack it. Gently well cared for used items are cool and we ask you to think carefully before you bring things that you yourself wouldn't wear because of the condition. You'll only be able to bring one suitcase and one backpack, pack tight. Things we know our friends love, hot wheels (easy to pack and the kiddos smiles will ignite your heart), clean intact dolls (these are a MAJOR hit with the kids young and old), small household items, kitchen towels, washcloths, etc. If you have other ideas or questions, shoot us an email or text, we'd be happy to talk it through with you.
Is it safe to travel to Mexico?
As with any service trip, there are certain risks, we do everything we can to stay safe. We monitor the safety of the border we cross (Tecate) and the areas we work in. We work closely with Hector who helps us with building and general logistics in Mexico and trust him to keep us updated on any safety concerns.
Click the cute piggy bank above or go here - either way, your donation will go to our general fund to help cover the costs of the home, food, and other support to single mothers in Mexico.
All donations are tax deductible.
Our CA 501(c)(3) tax id number is 26-2667700
THANK YOU for your donation!
If you're looking for a particular person to donate on behalf of, email firstname.lastname@example.org and we will send you in the right direction!
ready to join us?
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Want to learn more? Send us an email below and we will be happy to answer any questions.