Tree 4 Hope’s roots are in our founders’ 2003 adoption of their son Jonathan. Our earliest partner site, Hogar Miguel Magone, was one of the orphanages for boys that they visited in their adoption search. Throughout the past decade, our relationship with Hogar Miguel has provided food and educational support for hundreds of children and has also carried hundreds of volunteers to the orphanage for service and cultural exchange. Tree 4 Hope established a second partnership in 2004 with La Limonada, an inner-city vocational school, and then a third in 2009 with The Elder Center, a sanctuary for low-income, elderly Mayans.
Today, we are looking forward, both to strengthening our current relationships and to building new ones. With the 2014 opening of Hogar Maria Auxiliadora, a girls’ orphanage next door to Hogar Miguel Magone, we are now entering the process of establishing a school for these young girls. We are so excited for the road ahead!
Hover your cursor over any year below for highlights:
2003The Crists adopted their son Jonathan. The family partnered with their adoption agency to throw Christmas parties for twelve orphanages. - 2004The Crists returned to assist with Christmas parties for 15 orphanages, distributing 385 fleece blankets made by children in the US. Jennifer began to coordinate humanitarian aid for Hogar Miguel Magone and began her friendship with Tita, the founder of La Limonada. - 2005In response to severe flooding and mudslides in Guatemala, the Crist family collected humanitarian donations, including over 1800 blankets, for orphanages there. At Christmas, they returned to help organize Christmas parties, also providing Christmas gifts for some of the children. For the first time, people outside of the Crist family participated in delivering aid. - 2006Jennifer led three team trips, one with 52 participants, to Hogar Miguel Magone. The groups delivered shoes, ran medical clinics, and renovated a common room. - 2007Team Send Me traveled to work focusing on agriculture, vaccinations, dental care, muraling, distribution of clothing and other donations, and construction of a playhouse. Jennifer and George Crist returned at Christmas to help organize parties at orphanages, deliver gifts, and begin the adoption of Kevin and Gustavo, a pair of teens at Hogar Miguel Magone. - 2008The Crists visited Kevin and Gustavo during the summer. Team Joy arrived in November, delivering shawls and Christmas gifts, installing sports court fencing, renovating bathrooms, muraling, and beginning a sewing program. The Crists completed their adoption of Ethiopian twin daughters Natalie and Tabitha. - 2009Teams Courage, Grow, Create, Strength, and Present traveled to Hogar Miguel Magone and La Limonada, focusing on construction projects, water filtration, music and art programs, medical care including vaccinations, and fire safety equipment and training, among other things. Tree 4 Hope connected with the Elder Center in Santiago Atitlán. The Crists completed the adoption of Kevin and Gustavo. - 2010Teams Celebrate, Faith, and Relief traveled to Hogar Miguel Magone to deliver quilts they had sewn, teach English, relieve the orphanage staff, improve the orphanage’s fire safety standards, and develop programs for nutrition, music, sewing, and chicken husbandry. For the first time, the teams also traveled to the Elder Center, distributing gifts of shawls and initiating a food program. Tree 4 Hope officially registered as a non-profit organization. - 2011Team Teach visited during the summer, conducting sewing and construction projects, teaching music, and establishing an ESL program format that volunteers still use. For the first time, Tree 4 Hope volunteers visited Mi Casita, Tita’s special needs school. - 2012In January, Team Endurance visited Hogar Miguel Magone, the Elder Center and Mi Casita. At Hogar Miguel, they conducted a sexual abuse prevention retreat, renovated the orphanage by tiling floors and painting, delivered blankets and school supplies, and ran a medical clinic. Teams Branching Out and Deeply Rooted served at the Elder Center and Hogar Miguel Magone. At Hogar Miguel, they distributed clothing, taught ESL, music, and kung fu, and helped build Hogar Maria Auxiliadora by tamping sand floors and laying concrete blocks to build walls, working under the guidance Guatemalan construction workers. - 2013At Hogar Miguel Magone in January, Team Renew ran a theater workshop and a second sexual abuse prevention retreat, distributed shoes, vaccinated children, and took the children swimming. Three teams served in July. Team Unite helped build the walls of Hogar Maria Auxiliadora, taught music and ESL, and distributed shoes. Next, Team Ekbalete (“Casting Out” in Greek) visited Hogar Miguel, the Elder Center, La Limonada, and La Mandarina, serving at each place with an emphasis on cultural learning and relationship-building. Finally, Team Do Wellness taught kung fu, built a playhouse at Hogar Maria, and took the girls on a field trip to the zoo.
- 2014In January, after serving a meal at the Elder Center and washing the elders’ feet, Team Prepare served at Hogar Maria Auxiliadora, building a second playhouse, finishing interior walls, and painting lines on the soccer court. At Hogar Miguel, they vaccinated the children and ran ESL, kung fu, and sexual abuse prevention workshops. Hogar Maria Auxiliadora opened in May! During the summer, Team Advance, comprised of Tree 4 Hope interns Heidi, Megan, and Connor, taught ballet, ESL, and kung fu, organized the child sponsorship programs, and began to collect stories from the elders at the Elder Center and the students and families at La Limonada, La Mandarina, and El Limón in the Guatemala City.
- 2015Team Adrenaline traveled to the Elder Center and the orphanages in January. At the Elder Center, they washed the feet of the elders and served them a meal. At Hogar Miguel Magone, they painted a mural in the youngest boys' dormitory, renovated the oldest boys' dormitory, held a retreat for teenaged boys and a retreat for orphanage staff, taught child therapy techniques, administered physicals and vaccinations, and gave cooking, ballet, and kung fu lessons.
Our Founders’ Story
The story of Tree 4 Hope began when our family decided to adopt a child from Guatemala in 2003. We traveled to Guatemala several times during the adoption process to visit our son, Jonathan. When adoptions temporarily shut down, we (George, Jennifer, Emily and Jessica) moved to Guatemala until the adoption was complete. This stressful time was also a time of discovery for our family, during which we developed contacts with several orphanages and humanitarian aid workers. When we finally returned to the States with our son, our daughters asked, "What can we do to help the children of Guatemala?"
In response to their question, we first decided to start a campaign to provide fleece blankets for orphans. When we returned the following year, we took 385 blankets. When other needs arose for the orphanages, we sought to collect those things as well. In 2005 we were able to take 1800 blankets, 1200 pairs of shoes, socks and several tons of other supplies. It was apparent that this was becoming more than a casual project.
From early on, people were eager to help with projects, but soon, people were asking if they could also travel to Guatemala to see the work that was happening firsthand. The trips were informal at first, with a couple of people accompanying us at Christmas to deliver presents for the orphanage parties, but the trips rapidly increased in size and scope. In June 2006, a team of 52 traveled to Guatemala to focus on Christian education and build a transition home at a boys' orphanage, Hogar Miguel Magone. Subsequent trips focused on agricultural projects, building and facility improvements, music therapy and education, vacation Bible school, and even providing respite care for the staff.
The effort has matured over the years into an organization that is focused on providing support to other organizations that care for orphans and widows. The approach has been refined over the years to build long-term relationships not only with these institutions but also with the people they serve. We hope that you will take some time to learn about Tree 4 Hope, and perhaps find a way to get involved.