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Review for Education And Hope, Norwalk, CT, USA

Rating: 5 stars  

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.

Elizabeth O’Mara

Role:  Donor