Guatemala Service Projects Inc is a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation based in Wisconsin.
The nonprofit corporation, Guatemala Service Projects Inc, exists to provide resources to impoverished people in Guatemala. We will plan, organize and implement service projects that improve the health or literacy of Guatemalan children and families. Some examples of health improvements include installing high-efficiency wood-burning stoves that vent outside the home, installing water filters and providing training on their care and use, and providing vitamins to children and expectant mothers. Some examples of literacy improvements may include providing schools with libraries or technology and giving assistance in the form of student sponsorship.
The directors of the nonprofit are Jennifer Demar, Richard (Trent) Faith and Jennifer Scratch. Our “boots on the ground” in Guatemala is our friend and trusted adviser, Diego Xirúm. We are all volunteers and love what we do!
(See director profiles below and click the names to send an email.)
My husband and I adopted two children from Guatemala when they were toddlers, and then were blessed with a homegrown third child a number of years later. We live in Oconomowoc, WI.
Our first trip to Guatemala as a complete family was in August 2015. We wanted our older kids to have familiarity with their birth country, as it would offer a clear picture as to the struggles that many in Guatemala face and hopefully an understanding of some underlying issues that may have had an impact in their adoption stories. We traveled with four other families, two which also had the international adoption tie to Guatemala!
Each one of us was blessed by the trip, some more than others, and perhaps in different ways. As for me, my life was changed forever. I knew that service work and helping the people of Guatemala would be in the forefront for a very long time.
Aside from the fact that we have children born in Guatemala, we choose Guatemala because it is a less-developed nation with needs so much greater than ours and so much less government support for those that truly need it. Plus, the cost of “doing” there is so much less that a little bit of money goes a LONG way.
I found Guatemala through a Transcultural Healthcare trip I took with WCTC in 2016. I graduated in May of 2017 after studying Surgical Technology. I am the father of two terrific boys, JT and Barret and have been married to their mother, Cindi Faith, for 25 years. I am a cycling enthusiast and enjoy playing the drums, but have found my life’s calling over the last several years with many trips to Guatemala.
I am pictured here with my son JT and a little friend named Alex in San Jorge, Guatemala.
While I was in high school I did community theater. During one of our productions we met a wonderful woman who was Guatemalan. I spent a lot of time with her for the 12 weeks we were in production. She showed me her culture. I had even traveled to the Daly Plaza to see her and some friends perform a dance. She had given me tokens of her culture that I had treasured for years. Sadly, after the production was over I never saw her again. I don’t recall her name anymore, but I remember her.
When we went to adopt, we chose Guatemala because both I and my husband had been influenced by people from this country. For my husband it was a college classmate. For a while they had been pen pals when she had moved back, but eventually that faded.
In February of 2007 we brought home our seven-month old son from Guatemala, Julian Alexander.
When Jennifer Demar was looking for help with getting Guatemala Service Projects up and running, I jumped on the wagon.
I’d like to give back to the country that has given me so much.
Diego grew up in one of the poorest communities in Chichicastenango, Quiché, Guatemala. Having lived in poverty for many years and living with many difficulties, Diego decided to improve the quality of life for himself and his people of Guatemala through employment with various nonprofit organizations doing work there.
Diego is a motivated and flexible team player who enjoys working on a project from inception to completion. He is an experienced project manager with a proven track record of developing accounting plans, managing staff, and coordinating international volunteer group activities. He is multilingual, with excellent communication in English, Spanish, and K´iché (Mayan Language), and utilizes technical skills in developing administrative programs for nonprofit organizations and companies.
In 2007, he graduated as an Accountant in Guatemala and then continued his studies in the United States. Diego received an Associate Degree in Applied Science Individual Studies from Broome Community College – State University of New York in 2013 and worked as manager and administrator for a US-based company before returning to Guatemala.
Guatemala Service Projects is made better through the faithful service of our all-volunteer Board:
My husband and I had the honor and privilege to adopt our son Marc from Guatemala. Our first trip to Guatemala was May 2007; we met Marc for the first time in person. We also traveled back in July 2007 and to pick him up in August 2007; our daughter Stacey came with us on our last trip to bring Marc home. We fell in love with Marc and his country quickly. We noticed the needs of individuals and families. We have been part of giving financially to aid some of needs we noticed and heard about, for example: student sponsorship and pregnant mother well-checks. I did not feel I was involved enough; I wanted to do more. I have been given the opportunity to serve on the Guatemala Service Projects Board of Directors. I am excited to begin serving the people of Guatemala and the nonprofit! We have future plans to travel back with Guatemala Service Projects; we want Marc to experience his heritage first-hand through helping projects. My background includes: counseling in the field for 12+ years (domestic violence, abuse, and drug and alcohol treatment). I currently work as an instructor at Penn State University. I look forward to this new adventure with my family!
Hi, I’m Mike Margolies. Lillian (my wife) and I brought Andrew home from Guatemala on October 11th, 2001. It was exactly one month after 9/11, the horrendous day that no one will ever forget. From the window of my parents’ apartment, I watched the smoke billow out from Ground Zero, having the same fears and sorrow as the rest of the country, but also feeling intense personal sadness that despite all the time, work, and effort which had exhausted us emotionally and physically, our hopes were floating away as well. It is just one more reason why I have always considered the adoption as a gift, which demanded some type of repayment. That feeling grew even stronger over the recent past, as I’ve learned about the refugee crisis, and heard “Guatemala” mentioned so many times on the news.
The “right” opportunity arose when I learned about a travel opportunity for adoptive families which would include volunteer work and cultural sightseeing. Being members of that team had a profound impact on me, Lillian and Andrew. Not only were we able to make a real connection to our son’s birthplace, but we met incredibly warm and generous people, all of whom we now consider to be a part of our “family.” In addition to the volunteer work I shared with the Team, I also was able to “give back” by performing as my alter ego, “Farfel the Clown” at a barbecue for children of The Backyard School. It will remain one the proudest and happiest memories of my life.
While in Guatemala, I got to know some of the most courageous and impressive people I’ve ever met in my life, people that create opportunity and help the Guatemalan people. Through participation on that team, I had the wonderful pleasure to meet Jennifer Demar, who not only always promptly responds to my FB messages, but “gets” my offbeat and silly humor. Through the donation of my time, money and ideas, as well as via future repeat trips to Guatemala, I am committed to the mission of Guatemala Service Projects.
I feel very proud and honored to have been selected as a member of the GSP Board, and I am looking forward to serving and assisting with the foundation to the best of my ability.
My love for Guatemala began with the adoption of my son Aiden in 2006. It was through the birth family’s home-study report that I became aware of their financial circumstances and more than a little horrified that his mother was raising 6 children on the equivalent of $120 US per month. Our exposure to the people of Guatemala was limited to what we could see from the plane windows during approach on our visit and pick-up trips and the time we spent in Guatemala City.
Flash forward 14 years, I have just returned from my second tourism/ service trip. I have spent time with Jose Miguel, Pastor Jacob and Ada from Nuevo Reto, and Iris of the Backyard School. I believe that having people who live in the communities who are able to identify the needs and then work to support their communities by filling those needs is the best way to improve the health and welfare of these wonderful people.
It wasn’t until a few years ago, however, that I became involved in trying to help make lives better by supporting Jennifer’s incredible projects and sponsoring children at the Backyard School and Nuevo Reto. I am very excited to have been asked to join the board and hope that I am able to work with the team to grow support and raise awareness of the needs of these beautiful people.
My husband John and I have been married for 25 years. In addition to Aiden, we have an adult son who joined me last year when I visited Guatemala and he says it was the best experience of his life. I enjoy reading and genealogy research.