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This is a bit off-topic, but one of my best friends – Kate – went with her family to Guatemala last summer with an organization that builds houses for those desperately in need of shelter in the rural areas of Guatemala. Kate, who I’ve known since freshman year at Tyler School of Art (Temple University’s Art School) and her husband adopted a baby boy from Guatemala over 12 years ago. I believe he is the inspiration to help the rural poor in this country.

The experience they had last summer was life-changing to say the least. Her eyes light up every time she speaks of their summer in Guatemala and as expected – they’re heading back there this summer. They only went for one week last summer and this year they’ll be staying an additional week in order to do some more exploring of the country. In fact, this year they will be staying with a host family to get even more immersed into the culture. They have three children, two went with them last year and all three are going this year. The two older kids are in grade school and they have been learning Spanish since kindergarten and are way ahead of their parents. They are taking their youngest child – who is four years old.

Old HouseThe organization they are volunteering for is called From Houses to Homes (FHTH). It was founded in 2004 with the intension of improving the lives of those living in rural Guatemala. Most of the poor live in cornstalk homes with a dirt floor. The volunteers are responsible for raising funds to build the concrete block homes. FHTH assemblies teams of three adults to provide the labor to build the homes. It takes approximately $1500 in materials to build one home. Kate’s family, through the generosity of their friends and family, raised enough money to build 6 homes last summer.New House

They are looking to raise money to build even more houses this summer. In addition to building homes – funds can be put toward building bunk beds ($250 for the beds, mattresses, sheets, pillows & blankets); stoves ($150 buys a stove); and school supplies ($40 – $80 tuition and supplies for one year $40 for grade school and $80 for junior/senior high school).

There is also a great need for used, operable laptops.

For information or to send a donation, here’s the address:

Foe Collins, Executive Director
From Houses to Homes-Guatemala, INC
X-12 Farmhouse Lane
Morristown, NJ 07960
(973) 538-3987

You can also make tax deductible donations online at the FHTH website. If you’d like to make a donation specifically for Kate’s family add “Viola Family” in the memo line or comment box! Here’s the video they made describing their experience last summer – I hope you’ll be inspired too!