Charity of the Month: From Houses to Homes Guatemala


View from the Clínicas Médicas San José roof, Guatemala.

Lindsey Ingrey and Elisabeth Sauerman

From Houses to Homes Guatemala is a charity committed to improving the lives of impoverished Guatemalans by providing housing, education, and access to healthcare. Since 2004, they have built 1,368 homes, and each month, more are built by a team of volunteers and Guatemalan workers.

  The founder, Joe Collins, is an American who first visited Guatemala in 2001 and was struck by what he saw. Over the next two years, Collins volunteered for another NGO (Non-Governmental Organization) fourteen times. To ensure that every dollar donated to better Guatemala was put to good use, Collins founded From Houses to Homes and it became his life’s mission. Though Collins passed away in 2013, his legacy lives on the houses that are still being built in Guatemala.

  Poverty is a huge problem in Guatemala, with limited access to proper housing, education, health care, or clean water or food being a widespread problem. From Houses to Homes provides each family they help with a cinderblock house equipped with a window and a door, as well as a year’s worth of food and life-long access to their medical clinic in San José, Guatemala. Since opening in April 2011, the Clínicas Médicas San José has treated over 18,000 patients. Families will get access to the clinic, which is staffed by two primary staff members, Dr. Ana Louisa Ortiz, General Practitioner, and Dr. Velvet Lopez, Dentist, as well as a few part-time employees. If you are interested in helping with the medical clinic to provide healthcare and resources to Guatemala, you can offer financial support or medical supplies.

  There is also a school, Escuela Kemna’oj, which is dedicated to educating the children of the families From Houses to Homes helps. If you are interested in helping a child obtain a quality education, for $60 a month ($2 a day), you can sponsor a student and they will receive two meals a day, access to our medical clinic for them, and their entire family, school supplies, and support from a social worker.

The final way you can get involved is by raising money for a house. The 13 x 19 block structure is simple but From Houses to Homes provides a locking door for security, a roof for protection from harsh weather, and a window for natural light. You can go to Guatemala to help build the house, and though the native languages are Spanish and Mayan dialects, you don’t necessarily need to speak the language. Everyone is very kind and helpful and you will feel welcomed. The family that you build for will become your family and you will grow to care about them deeply. Just taking a few moments with the kids in the neighborhood to play a game of soccer or blow bubbles can be truly life-changing.

  If you are interested in From Houses to Homes, either to donate or to travel to Guatemala and volunteer, visit their website,, write them at PO Box 85, Mt. Tabor, New Jersey 07878, or call them (973-214-1119). If you are not comfortable reaching out directly to the charity, you can ask Lindsey any questions you may have. Lindsey has volunteered with From Houses to Homes twice, and plans on going again this summer.