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Thursday, June 6, 2019
June News
Donor Relations


A message from Erin

Hello from Panajachel, where we are ramping up for our “summer” months and where I am beginning to hit my stride as Executive Director of this incredible organization. June means hosting many volunteers, daily visits from our sponsored students who will share their grades and send and receive sponsor letters, continuing the development of all of our departments, programs, and internal systems, and lots of rain.

What it also means for us at Mayan Families is to look at the rest of 2019 and double­ down on the particular areas of focus where we know we can make the most impact as an organization. Our responsibility is to focus on the work that we know will have the greatest impact in supporting children and families around Lake Atitla╠ün to thrive. As we evolve and hone our programs to deepen our work as an organization, we ask our friends and partners to join us in supporting these three priorities, which will define our work moving forward: 

Clearly these three focus areas are interrelated, and we cannot succeed in one without the others - hungry children cannot learn, and jobs skills and education together are vital to families being able to break the cycles of poverty and malnutrition. This work is not easy and our responsibility to make lasting change in the communities where we work is a heavy one. If you haven't already, please sponsor a child, renew your sponsorship, donate to our Well Mother/Well Baby Program or to our Trade Schools. Learn more below about amplifying our work and fundraising efforts through our new Mayan Families Ambassador Program. We are in this together, and we have important work to do!


(L-R) Jeaneth Paz, Marleni Chavez, and Ingrid Bulux with Miriam Hernandez, from Visión y Compromiso, after the completion of the course.    

 Local Staff Training 

This past month the entire indigenous and Guatemalan staff at Mayan Families participated in a six-day, 44-hour leadership training facilitated by Miriam Hernandez, the Workforce Training Manager of Visión y Compromiso. This was the first time that indigenous/local staff has had the opportunity to receive training and professional development to this extent at Mayan Families, and staff found it impactful and transformative. Staff left the workshop with increased knowledge and confidence around healthy leadership, effective communication, working collaboratively, and advancing community-driven work. Many of the activities challenged participants to speak up and get out of their comfort zone, testing new communication and solution-finding strategies. At the end of the week, the team gave presentations covering what they learned throughout the training and how they plan to put that knowledge into practice for the organization and the good of community.


Rodrigo, a photographer in the Communications department, reflected: “I feel now, after participating in the workshop that I have the capacity to handle many different types of situations and better help families when out in the field or the office.”    


Staff Highlight: Gerson Pérez

“Ever since I was a kid I loved numbers,” says Gerson Esaú Pérez Batz. Finances have been a passion, rooted from his youth, and Gerson has turned it into a full-time career here at Mayan Families after studying finance, supported by a sponsorship in our program, for the last 12 years. This year, after four years of hard work and demonstrated ability in the organization, Gerson was promoted to Head Accountant of the finance team.

“It’s a great responsibility for me. Everything I put my signature to promotes the public faith that our finances are in order.”

Gerson pays close attention to detail and works diligently to keep our finances in perfect order, collaborating with our local staff, Board, and independent accountant/auditor to assure that our finances are managed to the highest standard. We are so proud to have Gerson on the team!


We want to hear from you

Please take five minutes to support our work by letting us know what interests you about Mayan Families and how we can best communicate with you. Click here to take the short survey. 


Are you interested in ways to support Mayan Families in your own community? We are excited to launch the Mayan Families Ambassador Program, empowering passionate supporters of our work to further the mission and impact of Mayan Families through grassroots fundraising activities that are easy, fun, and truly make a difference in the lives of children and families in Guatemala.

 Join us in doing good - it feels GREAT and we will be with you every step of the way with materials, training, support and staff on the ground in Panajachel hosting activities of our own!

 Please sign up here if you are interested in learning more about becoming a Mayan Families Ambassador and amplifying the important work that we do together! 

New Updates for Student Letters

Letters between student and their sponsors provides an important opportunity for connection and Mayan Families is committed to continuing to provide letter translation and delivery services. We have recently established guidelines to support student letters to donors at three specific times of the year, keeping donors up to date and engaged in the progress of students while supporting students and families by reducing extra, often expensive, trips to the office . Click Here for details on the new process and please reach out to our Sponsorship team at with any questions or concerns.



Stephanie Tsuruda (left) and Michael Toppel (right), with Sulmi (center)

Thank You Michael and Stephanie

Mayan Families owes a huge debt of gratitude to our long-time volunteer team extraordinaire, Michael Toppel and Stephanie Tsuruda. Michael and Stephanie have given so much to Mayan Families, spending six months of the year here in Panajachel where they volunteer nearly full time; Michael as the Founder of our Carpentry Trade School and Stephanie driving the work of our Artisan Program forward with love and care for our staff and artisans. They have invested countless hours, dollars, tears, and love into making Mayan Families what it is, as well as bringing many other sponsors and donors to support our work, and we are endlessly grateful. The duo returned to the US in May for their six months "off," and their absence is felt by staff and community. The dedication of Michael and Stephanie to our work and organization is truly incredible, and Mayan Families is deeply grateful. Hurry home, Stephanie and Michael, we miss you!


Student Care Package Shipment Returns This Fall

We are excited to resume the opportunity for sponsors (and others) to send small but meaningful care packages to sponsored students and needed supplies for our work in Guatemala. More information will be communicated later this summer. Stay tuned for details!


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