As plans are being finalized for our trip to Guatemala next month, we are very excited to announce that there will be not just one Vision Team, but two! The first one, led by John "Julio" Allen (and no doubt ably assisted by Jeannie) will be leaving on February 7th and will include 7 veterans of previous trips and 5 "newbies". The second team will follow on February 21st, led by Christine Spresser, "with a little help from her friends", and will be made up of 4 veterans and 7 new to the experience.  ERC members that are involved for the first time are Jim Finn and Marc DeVries, who will travel with Christine.
 
  

Including an initial exploratory trip in 2011, four successful Vision Teams sent annually to Common Hope's campus in Antigua from 2012 to 2015, and two trips for high school graduation ceremonies in 2014 and 2015 to help club sponsored students and their families celebrate. 35 individuals (14 of them ERC members)  have participated, many more than once, totaling over 50 people visits.  This has been instrumental, along with funding for books and infrastructural from the ERC International Committee, in advancing the Common Hope mission focusing on education and literacy, health, housing, and social work.
 
Arising from the Vision Team trips have been almost 30 sponsorships of children to enable them to stay in school instead of being "economic commodities", which is sadly the case in many Guatemalan families.  While we all hope for graduations from high school, even completing 6th grade makes an amazing difference in the life prospects for a Guatemalan child.
 
Of course plans are already in the works for 2017, and those interested should make that known, as teams fill up fast, often leading to waiting lists, and while having two teams can help balance the supply/demand equation we can't always count on that to accommodate everyone.  In addition, we plan to again have a club representative attend the graduation in November of our newly sponsored "club kid", Linda Hernandez,  who has just started her senior year in high school, and who our member Gwen Condon and her husband Ken were able to visit recently while attending the graduation of Yenifer Garcia, who has specialized in accounting.
 
Those interested in learning more should contact your club leadership, International Committee members, and our ERC members who have already helped us make the impact we have.