Have Hammers—Will Travel is a unique program that has no equal in Mexico. It is a skilled Trade Center that teaches local students woodworking basics. The goal of the program is to provide lifelong skills that can be used in their professional and personal lives. Over 100 kids and teens have completed the program since its inception at Mision San Pablo in 2007, at Hope House in 2008, and at the Lake Chapala Society in 2009.
A new milestone was reached in 2010 with the opening of the storefront workshop at Ocampo #49A, officially announced at the Second Annual Fundraiser, held at the Riviera Alta Clubhouse on February 16th to a packed house. A highlight of the evening was the introduction of four students with their Maestro Mario who conducted a workshop demonstration. Additional tools that were donated by Bill Lindley and Richard Williams told the poignant story of how Joe Schwartz helped to jump start the entire program in 2007 with a large donation of not only his personal tools but many that he was gathering for them in San Antonio, Texas.
Joe had asked for a full list of all the machines and tools that Have Hammers needed for his next trip across the border, but with Joe’s untimely passing, all of these plans were never brought to fruition. Two years later, Joe’s niece Randy arrived in Ajijic to take up winter residence here. Incredibly, after hearing about the program in Ajijic and visiting the shop Randy and her husband Andrew, who had received many offers for the tools, decided that Have Hammers was the right home for them, having never known about Joe Schwartz’s commitment to the program and involvement with Mexican youth. A beautiful three-foot plaque with a hammer mounted on it will hang at the Trade Center announcing “The Joe Schwartz Memorial Workshop.”