LGA employee, family volunteer in Guatemala orphanage

June 15, 2017

Making a difference for clients and in the community is a goal for the entire LGA team, but one team member took that mission to a new level on a recent family vacation.

Joe Tolley, associative creative director and art director, and his family had a less traditional spring break this year. The family of four traveled to Guatemala on a mission trip and spent a week at Casa Bernabé, an orphanage for children in need.

“A church friend had worked at the orphanage before, and my wife really wanted our family to experience it,” said Joe. “Honestly, I was the one who wanted to go the least, but now three years and two mission trips later, it is something that I can’t picture my life without.”

“Joe

Casa Bernabé Ministries was founded to provide a home for vulnerable children in Guatemala. It can care for up to 150 children at a time. Most of them come from broken homes and are victims of abuse, neglect or abandonment.

“Going to Guatemala changed the way I look at what is important in life,” Joe said. “You see these kids and they have nothing, but at the same time they have everything. Casa Bernabé continuously pours love into these children, and that is the foundation they want these kids to grow on. It took us leaving America to witness true love and true happiness. That is the importance of life.”

Unlike most orphanages, Casa Bernabé is not government funded. Therefore, it relies solely on donations and grants to remain operational.

“One of our tasks was to clean the roofs and gutters of the houses to prepare for their heavy rain season. Very quickly we realized the difficulty of this chore and just how spoiled we are. We were using worn and broken brooms; I kept wishing we just had a leaf blower,” said Joe. “But, you can’t just run to your local Walmart when you want or need something. Imagine problem-solving when you have very little and you have no money to buy anything, yet the job still has to be done.”

Joe and his family plan to go back to Casa Bernabé once a year and, his oldest daughter, Peyton, hopes to teach art in Guatemala upon graduating college.

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