Mary Ann and Emma Looby sponsored Marie nine years ago, when both Marie and Emma were in third grade. Marie graduated this November, so the Loobys came down to celebrate with her. While in Guatemala they also signed on to sponsor two new students, Ana and Anibel. They sat down with Erin Treinen, Grants & Communications Officer, to talk about their experience of sponsorship.
Why did you decide to sponsor?
Mary Ann: Ever since Emma was adopted we have participated in Heritage Camps in Colorado, and one time Common Hope came. A staff person who worked in Guatemala did a presentation, and I was sold. Having adopted a child from Guatemala, we wanted to embrace the country, and we had already done a couple of other philanthropic things, but we really liked Common Hope. I asked if we could sponsor a girl, and at that time, I had no idea I would come and meet her.
You’ve been to Guatemala five years ago, right? How has this trip to Guatemala been different than your last trip?
Mary Ann: Last time, we came on a tour specially designed for families that adopted from Guatemala, with an organization called Family Ties. Part of the process was to connect you in some way to the people in Guatemala, with birth families and foster families. We did connect with Emma’s foster family. We also called Common Hope, since we were sponsors at the time, and Rosi came to pick us up in Guatemala City and drove us to New Hope. There we did a tour of the school and site and we met Marie and her sister and mother. We brought her a dress, and Emma had the same one, both 12 at the time.
On this year’s trip, I’ve learned a lot more about Common Hope, I have more factual data. We have always wanted to do a Vision Team, and now that I’ve found out how easy that is, we will do that.
What are your hopes for the students you sponsor?
Emma: I think just getting through high school and college. I saw today that affiliated families’ living conditions are hard and it’s not easy to go to school. Common Hope makes it more accessible to go to school and I think that seeing them progress and having more people graduate and have a better future, that is my hope for our students.
Emma, what do you want to do when you are older?
Emma: Right now I have a really busy life with school, sports, and working. But in the future I would like to get a BA in psychology and try to join the Peace Corps and travel the world. I really want to travel and give back. I was lucky to grow up in Breckenridge and it’s so beautiful there. But I want to get to see how beautiful the rest of the world is. And it’s important to help others to have the best life they can have.
Mary Ann, how have you felt here with Emma?
Mary Ann: This really started with her enthusiasm in coming. Between Heritage Camp and our first trip to Guatemala when she was 12, those were both things that I suggested and encouraged. This time Emma was the one that wanted to do this trip. I’ve been very pleased with her embracing everything here in Guatemala, her compassion for the children and the people we’ve seen. She loves seeing children from her birth country. I’m really proud of her for embracing it all. We talked about setting a goal to come here on a more frequent basis, maybe once every three or five years.
A long-term goal that I have is to embrace Guatemala and now that is a goal for Emma as well. She’s eating national foods. She wants to try it all and goes back for dessert. She’s interested in the fabrics and the weavings and crafts. I love the Guatemalan crafts. I love all that. She’s really had an interest in everything. Before I adopted Emma, I didn’t know much about Guatemala. Adopting Emma has been a blessing and a gift. I have a beautiful, wonderful daughter from a beautiful, wonderful country.
Mary Ann, would you recommend sponsorship to other people?
Mary Ann: I’d absolutely recommend sponsorship. I think we are in a time that there is no reason to not embrace something bigger than ourselves. We have so many opportunities to make an impact. Access to education will make a difference for anybody, period. And for the people of this country, it’s necessary. I think Common Hope is a good steward of our money; it’s been 10 years that I’ve been sponsoring and I don’t think there’s a better investment and a more needed investment.