A surprise Skype visit makes a former sponsor’s dream come true

From left to right: Victor Hugo, daughter Fernanda, daughter Alessandra and wife Rosidalia

From left to right: Victor Hugo, daughter Fernanda, daughter Alessandra and wife Rosidalia

Sharon Harren has worked at Big Brothers Big Sisters for twenty years. As a gift of appreciation, the Big Brothers Big Sisters staff teamed up with Common Hope to fulfill one of Sharon’s biggest dreams: the chance to meet her formerly sponsored student, Victor Hugo. Sharon began her journey of sponsorship 24 years ago when Hugo was 7 years old. Throughout the years, they exchanged letters, photos and stories like many sponsors and students do. The day came when Hugo graduated from high school, and that marked the end of their letter writing. Sharon thought she would never have the chance to hear from Hugo again, though she says she never stopped thinking about him. On June 22nd, Sharon’s dream came true when she found herself sitting in front of a screen, talking with a now 31-year-old Hugo, his wife Rosidalia, and two young daughters.

Their long-awaited encounter brought Sharon, Hugo and Rosidalia to tears of joy. Hugo started the conversation by practicing his English; with a full heart he told Sharon:

Sharon's daughter, Pam, and Sharon talking with Hugo and his family

Sharon’s daughter, Pam, and Sharon talking with Hugo and his family during her surprise Skype visit

“Thank you so much for all you did for me, I am the person I am today because of you. You are a very special person to me.”

Sharon was moved by his words and expressed how proud she was of him and his beautiful family. Though over a decade had passed since their last letter, Sharon affirms that their conversation flowed with ease since they had known each other for so long. They reminisced about old times. Hugo shared with Sharon how he remembered going to Common Hope’s offices in Antigua to write her letters, and how he would always ask her: “When can I meet you? The visit was also filled with questions about what Hugo had been up to since they lost touch. Hugo told Sharon that, although he hadn’t written her a letter in a long time, he had never stopped thinking about her either–he still keeps a photograph that she sent him when he was a boy.

As they continued their conversation, Sharon became aware of the profound impact she has made on Hugo and his family’s life. Rosidalia, who is a social worker, expressed to Sharon, “If it hadn’t been for your support for Hugo’s education, we would have never met, since we met when he was studying to become a teacher.” Rosidalia also gave thanks for Sharon and Common Hope’s support and said that Hugo “learned the importance of giving to others and creating opportunities for other children in Guatemala, which is the work he does now as the director of Semillas de Amor.”

Sharon, humbled by such appreciation, later reflected on what she did as a sponsor to support Hugo. She states,

“It’s almost embarrassing to me because, what was it [that I gave up]? Maybe two lunches out a month?And how does [giving that up] hurt any of us? I will say, it was also him. He had to have to motivation to do his part. And that makes all the difference in the world.”

Sharon's surprise Skype visit with Hugo and his family.

Sharon and Pam conversing with Hugo and his family

Their one-hour Skype date was filled with stories, sentiments and gratitude. Sharon says it was so wonderful to see how Common Hope helped Hugo become the man he is today. As a sponsor, she has made a lasting impression on Hugo and Sharon’s story is a true testament of what sponsorship can do for a student. We are confident that, with the help and support of our dedicated sponsors, we will share more stories like theirs in years to come.

Sponsor a student and make a difference 

If you are interested in making a difference like Sharon has done, you can become a sponsor today! This month, we are featuring 7-year-old Laura who is in need of a sponsor’s support to continue her education. To sponsor her, call Teresa Hermodson-Olsen at 651.917.0243, email her teresah@us.commonhope.org, or sponsor her online.

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