As a long time donor to Education and Hope, I thought I had a deep understanding of what it would be like when I visited. Nothing prepared me for the strong community and love that is woven into the fabric of this organization. Teamwork dedication, hard work and passion for the children and their families is what I got to witness during my visit. The founder, Julie Coyne has helped to foster growth and encourages growth and learning from participants of the program. Smiles and hugs abound!
The story is simple. Moreover, it’s the real deal. Over 20 years ago, a young woman, fresh out of college, wanting to make a difference, set out to learn Spanish in order to work with immigrant families as they struggled to navigate the school system in her town. Her search brought her to Xela, Guatemala, where she found a reasonably-priced language immersion school that happened to include community service as part of its program. One thing led to another and after a period of time, this young woman began on her own to bring a few children to her apartment after school, serving them a warm meal and helping with school work. Time moved forward. The young woman persevered. More children came, so she began to raise funds from family and friends back home and hire staff from the community to help with the cooking and care. Thus Education and Hope was born.
Over the years, Education and Hope continued to grow. Today it stands as a vibrant, love-filled community dedicated to serving over 250 children daily with access to free tuition, after school tutoring, warm meals, late afternoon snacks, showers, recreation and emotional support. Make no mistake, this emotional support is the key, not only for the children who are lucky enough to be part of this enterprise, but for their families and the staff who serve them. They all share in the love coming forth from Julie Coyne (the young woman), and all who support her mission. These children and their families absorb this gift as they negotiate the difficult years of a childhood marked by poverty, loss and isolation. But if one is fortunate enough to spend time at Education and Hope, you will never see that. What you will see are happy children, engaged and embraced by all those around them. There is little sadness during their day because here they find love, companionship, support with their school work, meals, snacks, a shower, lessons on hygiene, time for fun and games, but most of all love. Julie Coyne is the force behind all of this, but she would be the first to say she couldn’t do it without the support of her staff, her family, her friends and many generous donors.
It's wonderful to know that my volunteer efforts, as well as my donations go directly towards this amazing organization – a true grass roots enterprise that continues to shine brightly despite all the tragedy we see around us. It gives us hope and inspiration.
Education and Hope is a place filled with learning, happiness and most importantly Love! E and H is changing the future for the children it serves and for generations to come.
I have been a volunteer and a fundraiser for Education and Hope for over 6 years working with my high school age children to raise awareness and funding for this very special group! A donation to E&H is pure - simple - unadulterated sharing of love and hope without the pomp and circumstance of gigantic charities where you have no idea what good you are doing. E & H takes the donation (Backpacks, socks, books, money) and it goes right to the community. You are able to see the immediate impact of your giving! I have consolidated my charitable giving to this one charity because I can help make a difference here!
I just came back from Guatemala about two weeks ago. I am still moved by the LOVE and hope I see with the people at Education and Hope who have so little. On my last day I addressed the whole project by starting with the little Spanish I know. Eres mi segunda familia. You are my second family. That says it all. Can't wait to go back in two years......
Below is the rest of my address to the project.
Since 2006 I have seen many of you grow in so many ways and I am so thankful for the fact that I have been able to get to know you and hear about your families through Julie.
I know that we can’t always communicate easily, but I know one thing that you always say to me is thank you for everything.
It is me that should be thanking you because ALL of you have taught me so much.
You have taught me to eat foods I normally wouldn’t eat, including my vegetables!
You taught me to sleep without heat and stay under the wool blankets!
You have taught me a little Spanish!
You have taught me how to wash dishes (please don’t tell my wife!).
You have taught me to chop vegetables in a perfect way.
You taught me to meditate and breath although I don’t always do it.
BUT most of all you have taught me to strive to be a better person and love my neighbor.
Even though I am several thousand kilometers away, you are MY neighbors as your pictures are all over my offices and our Guatemalan blankets in my house remind me of Xela every day!
I am so blessed to have you as my neighbors. So….THANK YOU for all you do for me! ¡GRACIAS por todo lo que haces por mí!
I have been lucky enough to have been involved with this organization for the past 6 years and been able to visit the base in Xela, Guatemala. I am proud to know the founder, Julie, who is an amazing woman and has been able to accomplish so much for the children of Education and Hope. The community is incredibly welcoming and the love is felt the moment I walked through the front door. Through a warm meal, tutoring, and a supportive Education and Hope family, hundreds of lives are changed. This organization is currently breaking the cycle of poverty that traps so many lives in Guatemala. I am so honored to be able to assist this organization any way I can- the work they accomplish is truly astounding and reminds me of the good in our world!
Amazing, inspiring, transforming!!!!! As a long time donor of Education and Hope, these are the words that come to mind when I think of this fabulous organization. I have been lucky enough to have visited E&H twice in the past 8 years. I was able to see firsthand what a warm, nurturing, environment this is for less fortunate children and their families. Each day the children were greeted with a big hug, a warm meal, a hot shower, and educational support, among other things. But most importantly, each child felt loved, heard, & validated. I am so happy to support such a wonderful organization that is transforming the lives of those that are less fortunate:-)
I have visited Education and Hope twice, once in 2011 and again in 2016, and have been amazed both times at how wonderful this organization really is. I was able to play with the children and see their smiles as they entered the after-school program each day. My experiences in Guatemala were life-changing and I am wowed by how much Julie Coyne (founder) has been able to accomplish in improving so many lives. I love being a part of such an amazing organization!
Our family is a long time supporter of Education and Hope - 20 years! We have proudly donated money and time to this wonderful organization and have seen first hand the incredible life-changing work that is transforming an entire community. I have traveled to Guatemala twice. The first time with both of my daughters and this past summer with my middle daughter (high school junior). The reward of seeing and participating in the pure love that is Education and Hope is hard to put into words. The program currently serves 105 children on a daily basis in the after school program but also provides employment to mothers and women in the community as well. I love the “nurturing the whole child” approach that Julie Coyne (Founder) takes – feeding the mind, body, soul and heart. Our volunteering included a trip to the market, meal prep and serving, classroom and one-on-one academic help, exercise class, guided meditation, soccer and basketball games and so much laughter! This program is so incredibly well run and makes every dollar go as far as possible with very, very low overhead. So proud to be associated with Education and Hope!
The love that exists at Education and Hope is evident in the photographs of its participants, which I have seen over 20 years now. I was able to visit E and H last year, and it was an extremely powerful exoerience. The respect, admiration and gratitude that its participants have for Julie is as real as it gets. And its not only the children she is impacting. The Senoras who cook the daily meals are empowered to have a voice and contribute to something. They earn a wage and take great pride in getting the very best deals at the market each morning for the fresh food they purchase for the day's menu :two hot meals made from scratch which are delicious and nutritious.
Abject poverty is prevelant in this population....and heartbreaking to witness. It was the first time I have seen it up close. Yet there is a peace, gratitude and radiance that eminates throughout Education and Hope. There is hope. And purpose, self empowerment, love and many, many hugs. Julie committed herself to this calling over 20 years ago and does so very much with every dollar contributed to E and H. As friends from home, we were called "Julie's angels" because they all know there are people far away who care and support what is happening there. The world could certainly use more of this.