St. John's in Arlington forms new partnership with Guatemalan nonprofit

Several parishioners of St. John’s Church in Arlington will travel to Guatemala in 2020, after a diocesan Mission Tithe Relationship Grant awarded this spring made it possible for the parish to enter into a new relationship with a nonprofit home for children in Guatemala City, Fátima Children’s Home (FCH), or Hogar de niños Fátima.

Founded in 2002 in Guatemala City, FCH provides housing and protective services for children who have to be removed from their families because of child abuse or neglect. The children receive a safe home, care from nannies, access to a psychologist for counseling, and medical and dental care, as well as education and recreation.

Guatemala Courtesy Photo Children from St. John's in Arlington raised money to send to children in Guatemala, after the president of the Guatemala Aid Fund visited and taught the children about what it is like to go to school in Guatemala.

The community at St. John’s first learned about the children's home through its work with an Arlington-based nonprofit, the Guatemala Aid Fund. The Guatemala Aid Fund has been in partnership with Fátima Children’s Home for more than 12 years and accepts and delivers 100 percent of the U.S. funds raised to FCH, according to its website. For the past three years, St. John’s has been in conversation with Bethany Eisenberg, the president and founder of the Guatemala Aid Fund, to explore a global mission with Fátima Children’s Home. 

With the help of the diocesan Mission Tithe Relationship Grant of $9,810, several St. John’s parishioners will travel to Guatemala in 2020, and several Fátima Children’s Home representatives will visit Boston and participate in a Guatemala Aid Fund fundraising dinner, as FCH begins the process of expanding its program into the Sololá region, a more rural area in Guatemala where many of the indigenous families in need of services live.

Formerly known as Mission Tithe Partnership Grants, diocesan Mission Tithe Relationship Grants are intended to serve as a financial and networking resource for congregations entering new relational mission partnerships. 

Mary Jo Larson, who authored the grant application, serves as the vestry clerk at St. John’s and has joined the board of the Guatemala Aid Fund as part of the partnership. In an interview, Larson said that this endeavor has both children and adults in the congregation thinking about their privilege and asking how they can give back and help others.

"The families are talking about, ’If we’ve been blessed by God, what does it mean to be aware of somebody else's needs?’” Larson said. “The congregation is very excited and blessed to receive these funds. We have a lot to pray on as well as a lot to learn about from others.”

--Bridget K. Wood

Learn more about diocesan Mission Tithe Relationship Grants here.

Learn more about the Guatemala Aid Fund here.

Learn more about Fátima Children’s Home here.