With a heart full of appreciation, we say “hasta luego” to Steve and Marilyn Brown, long-time sponsors and volunteers for Common Hope. Over the past 18 years, they’ve spent a total of 3 years in Guatemala volunteering their time. For that reason, we want to honor them and their dedication to helping Common Hope families. Learn more about how Steve and Marilyn started collaborating with Common Hope, what they have accomplished and what they wish for.
On January 1, 2000, Steve and Marilyn flew to Guatemala for the first time, excited and a little bit nervous. They came with their daughter Sarah for a Vision Team. Steve and Marilyn met their sponsored children, and fell in love with Common Hope’s work.
Since then, Steve and Marilyn have come to Guatemala almost every year for about 3 months each trip. They spend their time volunteering here at Common Hope and at different projects in Antigua including Obras Sociales de Hermano Pedro.
Reminiscing, Steve remarked that when they first started volunteering the campus looked much different than it does now. The Education Buildings were in beginning phases of construction, the pharmacy was not where it is today, and the sports courts did not exist. Instead there was a chicken farm, a garden, and a carpenter shop. There also was no Pathway of Dreams at that time.
Steve said, “It makes me feel happy walking down the lane of stars at the project. When I first came here that didn’t exist. Now I can witness all the effort that has led to more than 2,000 graduated high school students today. It makes me feel proud to be part of this accomplishment.”
Steve has supported Common Hope in a range of different projects and programs throughout the past 18 years. His first focus was to support the Visitor Experience program, including leading the Pueblo Tours, and translating sponsorship visits and social work visits.
When needs started to change, he continued to support many other programs in different ways:
- Translating sponsorship letters and helping in our new communities
- Creating the housing manual guide
- Revamping the daycare center garden
- Infinite amount of painting and maintenance projects
- Repairing books in library and making a mural there
- Constructing bulletin boards
- And finally this year, constructing and installing our new educational bunk beds
Marilyn supported our adult education classes by teaching a sewing class to women. Year after year, she graciously coordinated a six-week sewing and craft class for small groups of women. Many women anxiously awaited this course, where they had the chance to learn new skills such as knitting and crochet.
“It was 4:00pm and the sewing class was about to end, so I told the women that is was almost time to go, but no one wanted to leave,” said Marilyn about one of her happiest moments at Common Hope.
After such a long time coming to Guatemala and getting to know its people and culture, Steve and Marilyn agree that Guatemala has become their second home. In March, the Common Hope staff hosted a special get-together for Steve and Marilyn as a way to say thank you. It was a very emotional gathering for everyone who has gotten to know the Browns over the years, and also for Steve and Marilyn. Tears of joy and appreciation could be seen in many eyes that day.
We thank Steve and Marilyn for all of their effort, time, and care they have dedicated to Common Hope and wish them all the best for their future! They will be greatly missed at Common Hope | Familias de Esperanza as they touched many lives during their 18 years of volunteering. Steve and Marilyn, you will always have a home at Familias de Esperanza!