Inspired by the late Jim McCarthy, a longstanding member on the Universal Vacation Club board of directors, the Eagle’s Wings Foundation is a non-profit organization officially established in 1999 by the Villa Group Resorts’ founders, Fernando González Corona, Luz Maria Torres and Owen Perry, together with Jim McCarthy and Robert Kistner, President of the Villa Group vacation ownership division.
Jim McCarthy was so moved by the overwhelming need of those who had offered him friendship during his visits to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico that he went about encouraging fellow UVC Members to team up with managers and owners of the Villa Group Resorts to establish an organization designed to show appreciation for the unforgettable destinations and their communities that members enjoy year after year.
With Jim McCarthy as its first president and driving force, the foundation launched its inaugural programs in Puerto Vallarta where the first Villa del Palmar brand resort was opened, expanding its assistance to other communities in Mexico as the Villa Group developed resorts in Nuevo Vallarta, Cabo San Lucas, Cancun and Loreto. In 2001, the foundation was awarded first prize for the ARDA Philanthropic award and was the first organization of its kind in the vacation ownership industry, with other notable resorts and chains having since followed in its footsteps.
Born on February 15th, 1929 in New York, the late Jim McCarthy was the president of the Eagle’s Wings Foundation from its creation in 1999 until his passing in 2011. He graduated from the Penn State University with four bachelor degrees and began his career as a primary school teacher, later becoming director of various further and higher education institutions. He was professor at major universities, a researcher and educational advisor in both the United States and Mexico.
After his retirement from education in 1990, he began another career as a board member for the Universal Vacation Club, today known as UVC, having fallen in love with Puerto Vallarta and its people. He often struck up conversations with the resort staff, easily making friends. They called him “Jaimito” and began inviting him to their homes. It was during these visits that Jim came to experience the vast differences between the tourist’s Vallarta and the resident’s Vallarta.
Jim immediately thought of ways to help the people, inviting fellow UVC member vacationers to make a donation of their choice before returning home, until in 1999 Jim came up with the idea to start the Eagle’s Wings Foundation. His visionary idea was fully supported by the Villa Group’s owners and together they began to implement programs to encourage vacation club members to make donations towards the foundation.
Since its inception, Jim served as the Foundation´s President. With a compassionate heart, he devoted all of his time to visiting the facilities of non-profit organizations, assessing progress reports, and determining the needs of each group. Then, he visited participating tourists and encouraged them to volunteer their time or donate money. Jim even completed the necessary paperwork for the importation of supplies, personally delivering these items to Puerto Vallarta and Los Cabos at least twice a year.
Sadly, Jim McCarthy suffered a fatal stroke and passed away on April 18, 2011 leaving behind great friends who will forever appreciate his legacy. Although it is with sadness that he is gone, it is with great joy that his legacy lives on, not only in the continuation of the Foundation but also in the lives of all those children and adults he has helped over the years
See the heartfelt letter Jim McCarthy penned to encourage the continuation of the Eagle’s Wings Foundation long after he would no longer be here to share his light.
Bob Ryan was a founding director of the Eagle’s Wings Foundation and Vice President for many years. He spent most of his life these past 13 years being Jim McCarthy’s closest assistant and best friend. Not too many years ago, he was instrumental in getting a bus delivered to Puerto Vallarta for a school in Refusio, a half-day drive from Puerto Vallarta. The children there lived many miles from school in a rural area, and most of them were not able to attend formal education. Because of Bob’s efforts on behalf of EWF, these children were able to take the bus to school. Jim was always very impressed with Bob’s ability to get the job done.
Bob worked very closely with Jim in every aspect of EWF work until his death in 2015. He also was very much involved personally in supporting Jim during his long illness, and visited him regularly in the hospital and at home.