Kathy Leland Faller ’76: Bonding Across Borders

For Kathy Faller ’76, a community is much more than a place where you feel you belong. It is also a family, and good families help each other in times of need.

With the help of fellow members of the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of San Dieguito in her home city of Solana Beach, California, Kathy collects boxes of food and clothing that she delivers to Tijuana families every week.

About ten years ago, when Kathy was building homes for poor families with a missionary group from Mexico, she started inviting other members of her church to help with the construction. In 2005, church members began sending donations to families in the Tijuana colonias, or neighborhoods, raising enough money for the construction of nine new homes. Some even helped build the homes themselves, allowing them to meet the people they were helping.

“I kept on asking the families, ‘what do you need?’ It was as basic as they needed food,” says Kathy.

And so she headed across the border to bring them boxes of necessities. More and more people dedicated themselves to the work and Family a Familia was born, creating jobs in construction to build new libraries and a community center.

Kathy still makes the deliveries herself, driving down to the border crossing every Tuesday, where—due to more stringent security—she sometimes has to wait more than five hours before she can move on.

For Kathy, working with Family a Familia is a far cry from her twenty-year career in corporate finance. She became a professional life and business coach ten years ago, and says having been a psychology major at MHC has helped not only in her professional life but in her humanitarian work, too.

“It’s very rewarding,” says Kathy. “I can truly say I can change these people’s lives. That’s not something you can say very often.”—Marianna Nash ’11