Fallece Jorge Gustavino: histórico dirigente de YMCA Chile y el Caribe

Jorge Guastavino (Jorge Orlando Guastavino Cerda) nació en Valparaíso, Chile, 10 de noviembre de 1919.

Cuando tenía unos doce años, mientras trabajaba a tiempo parcial recogiendo botellas de vidrio para su reutilización, se quedó viendo a través de la valla a los niños que jugaban en el patio de la YMCA.

El Secretario YMCA estadounidense, Sr. Austin Turner (“Don Agustín”, como se le conocía) lo invitó a pasar pero Jorge dijo que tenía que trabajarpor lo que Don Agustín le ofreció un trabajo como repartidor de cartas a los miembros de la YMCA, lo cual le abrió oportunidades hasta lograr irse a estudiar a Montevideo, Uruguay, en el Instituto Técnico de la Asociación Cristiana de Jóvenes para convertirse en un profesional de YMCA regresando luego a Valparaíso, Chile, donde trabajó para la YMCA durante 22 años

Desde 1962 hasta 1967 fue Secretario General de la YMCA de Santiago, donde asumió el reto de recaudar fondos y construir el nuevo edificio de la YMCA. En 1967, se mudó a Aruba, una pequeña isla holandesa en el Caribe, con su esposa e hija a trabajar por la YMCA “sólo durante cinco años”, pero se le pidió que continúe y se desempeñó como Secretario General hasta 1985.

También trabajó incansablemente para promover la expansión del trabajo YMCA en el Caribe y jugó un papel decisivo en la organización de la Alianza del Caribe de YMCAs, que ahora forma parte de la ALCACJ.

Se desempeñó como Secretario Ejecutivo de la Alianza del Caribe YMCA de 1980 a 1989.

También fue muy activo en el Comité de Hombres Cristianos de Negocio (CBMC), el RotaryClub de Aruba, y La Internacional Gedeones.Jorge compartió muchas historias y experiencias con amigos y familiares a través de los años, pero uno delos más preciosos de su juventud fueron el senderismo y viajes de campamento se llevó con los niños y jóvenes personas en el área de Colliguay, así como el inicio del campamento de YMCA, cerca de Valparaíso,Chile.

Todavía hay muchos hombres, ahora retirados, que todavía se conectan entre sí y con la YMCA de Valparaíso, debido a las experiencias que tuvieron como hijos en el “Campamento Colliguay” donde Jorge jugó una parte fundamental en su vida.

Jorge se fue para estar con el Señor el 8 de mayo de 2012, a la edad de 92, después de una vida larga y fructífera. Desde la ALCACJ nos sumamos a los reconocimientos y condolencias para toda su familia y la YMCA de Chile.

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Biography

Jorge Guastavino (Jorge Orlando Guastavino Cerda) was born in Valparaíso, Chile, November 10, 1919, the second of 7 children. His maternal grandmother was the first Chilean Baptist convert, and greatly influenced him after the death of his mother, when he was eight. She visited him twice a year, from out of town, taking him and his siblings to church. Those became some of the warmest memories of his childhood.

When he was about twelve, while he worked part-time picking up glass bottles for re-use, he would look through the fence at the children playing in the YMCA yard. One day an American YMCA Secretary, Mr. Austin Turner (“Don Agustin”, as he was known) invited him in. Jorge said he had to work, he couldn’t play. Don Agustin offered him a job delivering letters to YMCA members, starting a life-long relationship to the organization that gave him spiritual guidance, encouragement, deep friendships, and opportunities. Eventually, Jorge went to study in Montevideo, Uruguay, at the “Instituto Técnico de la Asociación Cristiana de Jóvenes”. (ACJ = YMCA) to become a YMCA professional.

During his studies in Montevideo he was asked to run recreational activities at a Baptist church camp, Pajas Blancas, for a week. There he was smitten with a young woman from Argentina, Clelia Bertalot, who would later become his wife in 1945. After they married they went to live in Valparaiso, Chile, where he worked for the YMCA for 22 years (with a short break in Uruguay in between). They had two sons, Jorge and Esteban, born in Chile. They went back to Montevideo, Uruguay, for 2 years to be “house parents” at the Instituto Técnico de la ACJ, and their daughter Clelia was born in Uruguay.

They went back to Valparaíso, Chile, where Jorge worked as a professional in the Chilean YMCA from 1945 till 1967. He first worked under Mr. Jose Marín, and later became General Secretary of the Valparaíso YMCA till 1962. From 1962 till 1967 he was General Secretary of the Santiago YMCA, where he took on the challenge of raising funds and building the new YMCA building.

In 1967, Jorge moved to Aruba, a small Dutch island in the Caribbean, with his wife and daughter to work for the YMCA “only for five years”, but was asked to continue and worked as General Secretary until 1985. He also worked tirelessly to promote the expansion of YMCA work in the Caribbean and was instrumental in organizing the Caribbean Alliance of YMCAs, now part of the Latin American and Caribbean Alliance of YMCAs. He served as Executive Secretary of the Caribbean Alliance of YMCAs from 1980 – 1989.

Jorge’s faith in Christ was not a sudden event, but a process of years and different circumstances and people, that led him to become convinced that his life was not complete without God. Once he committed his life to Christ, he lived with faith and integrity, until the end.

His work in the YMCA, both in South America and the Caribbean, was an expression of his faith. He believed that his Christian faith had to be expressed in daily life in relationships with people, and love was best expressed in service to others. He believed that God’s love was for all people, no matter what economic status, education, race, gender, religious affiliation, or lack thereof.

In Chile, Jorge and his wife Clelia, were very active in the Baptist Church of Valparaiso. Around 1960 a small Baptist church was formed in their living room, in the town of Villa Alemana. That church is still active and serving the Lord.

Finding no Baptist church in Aruba in 1967, Jorge and his family joined the Evangelical Church of Oranjestad. One of the missionaries of the Evangelical Alliance Mission asked Jorge to assist in the town of San Nicolas, where the main Aruba YMCA branch was located, and Jorge became part of the founding group of the English-speaking Evangelical Church of San Nicolas in 1971.

Around 1992 Jorge taught a Sunday school class in Spanish at that church, and soon that class grew and the group decided to have a deeper Bible study. They started meeting at the Guastavino’s living room on Wednesday evenings. When the living room became too small, they moved to the back yard. In 2001 the Iglesia Evangelica El Camino was established. Jorge and Clelia deeply loved both churches and stayed involved in both until their deaths.

Clelia passed away in 2007 after 61 years of marriage. Even though Jorge was the YMCA professional, Clelia supported and participated in many aspects of the work, and was an integral part of all he did. They were partners in God’s service. He missed her greatly.

Throughout his life Jorge was very active in the Y’s Men’s Club of Chile and Aruba, and also internationally. He was also very active in the Christian Business Men’s Committee (CBMC), the Rotary Club of Aruba, and The Gideons International.

Jorge shared many stories and experiences with friends and family throughout the years, but one of the most precious ones of his youth were the hiking and camping trips he took with children and young people in the area of Colliguay as well as the beginning of the YMCA camp there, near Valparaíso, Chile. There are still many men, now retired, who still connect with each other and with the YMCA of Valparaíso because of the experiences they had as children at “Campamento Colliguay” and the instrumental part Jorge played in their life.

Jorge went to be with the Lord on May 8, 2012, at the age of 92, after a long, fruitful life.