“Devolver” translated from Spanish means “return,” something Tuxpan native Ana Karina Vazquez is doing often with her husband-to-be, Christopher A. Suchánek. Vazquez and Suchánek are well established in the Southern California business community, with Vazquez owning multiple Cowboy Burgers & BBQ locations and Suchánek as chief executive officer of digital marketing company Firm Media Inc. Suchánek has been deeply involved with Firm Media’s charitable efforts like “Eat and Be Well,” a yearly event that supports the underserved of Southern California.
Operation Devolver, an organization based in Los Angeles, is not simply something to “do” for Vazquez and Suchánek. It is a mission with a purpose, and both want others to join in this ongoing effort to improve the lives of underserved adults and children in Tuxpan.
Operation Devolver events send caring individuals, food, household necessities, and children’s toys to Tuxpan. Operation Devolver keeps things simple, eliminating bureaucracy and expense in order to realize the greater good. These events bring together people in need, those willing to help, and the resources that make a difference.
“Our support of Tuxpan’s underserved families started as a personal mission,” said Suchánek. “Then, as we realized the good even a few people could do, we began to ask, ‘What if others got involved?’”
Tuxpan, located in the Mexican state of Jalisco, is made up of communities that vary in economic prosperity. Yet each one is filled with beautiful people, a rich heritage and history. Families in poorer areas of Tuxpan do not get a lot of assistance and services from the Mexican government. Their homes are without electricity or running water, and heavy rains collect in these locations – making it hard to build much-needed infrastructures. Vazquez and Suchánek decided these people should not have to go it alone.
From her humble beginnings, Vazquez earned a business degree at Universidad Jesuita de Guadalajara in Guadalajara, Mexico. She then immigrated to the United States and started working for Cowboy Burgers and BBQ in Southern California, becoming a general manager within the restaurant chain and eventually owner. She met Suchánek in Southern California and, well, the rest is history in the making.
Vazquez and Suchánek visited Tuxpan together initially in January 2012. It was on that trip, while visiting Vazquez’s family, where they looked at the town’s underserved population on a deeper level. During a visit to one of Tuxpan’s poor areas, the whole community was in need. Right there, Vazquez and Suchánek bought groceries for men, women and children living there. “The response we received in passing out the food was overwhelming,” said Suchánek.
That response led to more visits to Mexico, continuing to deliver food and necessities to underserved areas each time by themselves. As they kept going, more friends and family members joined in their visits to these neighborhoods. Donations of groceries, toys and clothing grew and grew … and it continues to grow today.
Operation Devolver events are 3- to 5-day trips to Tuxpan and allow participants an opportunity to experience the beauty and culture of Tuxpan. While doing this, volunteers help improve the community as well as the lives of those receiving donations.
Operation Devolver’s next trip is scheduled for early June and Vazquez and Suchánek encourage more personal involvement, drawing on the old adage of “many hands make light work.” The organization is always looking for more hands to help, support and nurture the lives of Tuxpan’s community. Financial, clothing and toy donations are welcome, too.
For more information on Operation Devolver, visit its website at www.operationdevolver.org.