Shelter is the most basic of necessities, but for many, safe living conditions are in short supply. In Guatemala, the third poorest country in Latin America, more than 50% of all families live in extreme poverty, sheltering in makeshift, unsafe and unsanitary homes.
Jim Quigley is helping to reverse those grim statistics…one family at a time. A Chicago-based financial advisor, Jim is the founding board member of HOPE’S IN, a nonprofit dedicated to empowering families in Guatemala City and developing the next generation of humanitarian leaders. For six years, Jim and his family have helped to build homes and provide vital services to residents living in the center of Guatemala City, also known as the garbage dump community.
Jim was the 2018 Invest in Others Global Impact Award winner. This past August, Jim and his daughter Courtney McGovern, executive director of HOPE’S IN, used a portion of our $40,000 award donation to complete the organization’s 38thhome—which was named after Invest in Others.
Over a five-day period, 10 volunteers worked together to build the modest two-room home, scraping and stuccoing walls, mixing the concrete floor by hand, and painting and cleaning the home. Volunteers work closely with the new family—in this case, a couple with their two young children—to complete the approximately 250-square-foot home.
“If there’s a close bond, the chance of them maintaining the home and going on to thrive becomes so much greater,” Courtney said. “We focus on getting to know the family. Creating a bond. They know that we are coming from far away to work with them and that provides even more encouragement.”
Beyond building a home for one family, the $40,000 donation has allowed HOPE’S IN to offer additional vital services. The nonprofit is using $5,000 of the money to start and seed HOSI (short for Honest and Sincere), which provides education and healthcare to prevent teen pregnancy and stop the cycle of poverty. The program launched with 10 young mothers, all of whom are taking action to prevent further pregnancies in their teen years.
With the rest of the grant, Jim said HOPE’S IN is testing out small projects to see where the money will do the most good. They recently launched another program, Inclusion Alliance, which advocates for people with disabilities who aren’t broadly represented in Guatemalan society.
“There are so many needs that we could easily write a check for the remaining $29,000,” Jim said. “But we’re doing small projects first because we want to see who we can work with long term and how to incorporate the whole HOPE’S IN vision of empowering the next generation of humanitarians.”
Jim and Courtney said the affirmation and support they’ve gotten from Invest in Others has been transformative, both for the families who’ve been helped along the way and to their own sense of worth and accomplishment.
“When he won, we were so humbled and encouraged because it’s so rare to feel like you’ve been heard and that the families you represent have been noticed,” Courtney said. “These are outcast communities, so the recognition was even more impactful.”
The family knows the full history of the house—that it has been built with funding from Invest in Others—and is grateful to have running water and, even more so, to have a dry place for themselves and their belongings.
For the Quigley family, their many years of volunteering have been a true gift, bringing them closer together as a family and altering their worldview.
“It’s given us something to rally behind,” Courtney said.” There are a lot of people who don’t get to experience something as meaningful and challenging—and we’re getting to do it together. This experience brings families together; it changes how you see one another.”