Rotarians bring hope to poor Guatemalan villages |

Rotarians bring hope to poor Guatemalan villages

Emma Garrard/Sierra SunMembers of Rotary Club of Truckee will be going to Guatemala on Oct. 17 for 10 days to help rebuild a community center in two small towns. (clockwise from top) Brian Marsh, Mitch Clarin, Suzi Cooper, Breeze Cross, Christy Morrison and Bonnie York. Not shown in the photo are Keith Shannon, Anna Marie Shannon and Dave Dunlap.

Several members of the Rotary Club of Truckee are packing their bags for 10 days in Guatemala. The trip, though, isn’t for a relaxing vacation but to have members get their hands dirty building a community center for an impoverished village.

Ten Rotarians are traveling to Antigua, Guatemala on Oct. 17 to help serve with Common Hope, a program of volunteers working to improve housing, health care, community development, education, social work and vocational training in the country’s southern region.

Common Hope was founded by Dave and Betty Huebsh in 1986 because they wanted to make a difference in the lives of people less fortunate than them.

Common Hope is an outreach program of 25 long-term volunteers, 30 short-term volunteers and 150 professional Guatemalans that aids more than 8,000 people.

Suzi Cooper, a Rotary member going on the trip, said she hopes to return with a fresh outlook. She said she is up for the challenge when it comes to doing some tough manual labor.

“It’s the perfect time to get a little attitude adjustment,” Cooper said.

The new community center the group will be working on will provide child care services, women’s services and job skill training for disadvantaged people and families, said Christy Morrison, Rotary member, who is also headed to Guatemala.

The Rotarians’ second destination will be to New Hope Village, created by Common Hope in 1999 after the devastation of Hurricane Mitch that killed 268 Guatemalans a year earlier. The thriving village includes the Heart of Hope Center offering a medical and dental clinic, library, administrative offices and rooms for visiting volunteers.

At New Hope Village the group will build houses and have the opportunity to work with children, Morrison said.

The gratification that comes from the people they’ll be helping is what Mitch Clarin, Rotary president, hopes to take from the experience, he said.

“I’m going strictly for the fun of it,” Clarin said. “To see a different society. It’s not a vacation.”

Clarin said he will lend his business expertise to the locals as they plan on building a coffee plantation.

The three rotary members aren’t too worried about the language barrier they will encounter in Guatemala. Clarin said he speaks a bit of “Spanglish” and Cooper said she speaks “un poquito” of the language.

Cooper said she will keep a daily journal to record the group’s progress and feedback on the trip.

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