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In April 2023, a team of Lerch Bates employee-owners participated in a Common Hope Vision Team experience, where Lerch Bates employee-owners utilize their technical knowledge to build a home in the local community of Antigua, Guatemala. Lerch Bates deeply values community as a core principle to our business and partners with organizations like Common Hope to live out this core value with tangible community impact.
Common Hope is an organization that works to end the poverty cycle for children in Guatemala. While they focus on access to education as the key to development, Common Hope takes a holistic approach to ending the poverty cycle. They work with health care, housing and family development all in an effort to raise communities out of poverty. Operating in 27 communities across Guatemala, Common Hope helps more than 14,000 impoverished children and adults create better lives for themselves. They build a relationship with every family member of every child they help, taking a personal approach to their mission.
The Lerch Bates team travelled to Antigua for a week of hard and rewarding work. To ensure a home can be built in a week, the affiliated Common Hope family cleared and prepared their land for construction prior to Lerch Bates’s arrival in Guatemala. Families apply for a home and must put in 100 hours of service to Common Hope to give back to their community. Once approved and hours of service completed, they are added to a waitlist. So, with each team that travels to Guatemala and provides a home to a family, other families also move that much closer to their own home.
As part of Lerch Bates’s home build experience, the week started off fabricating exterior wall panels, some of which included openings for doors and windows. Common Hope has developed a modular construction system which allows for sections of the exterior walls to be fabricated at their facilities and delivered to the home site for rapid construction and minimal disruption to the family.
The team then hand mixed concrete onsite and formed the slab on grade foundation for the home. By the third day, the concrete was sufficiently cured to install wall panels and begin bolting them together. Due to the modular construction, by the end of the third day, all walls were up, and the roof truss installation began. As with all houses, the final touches take the longest. But by the end of the fourth day the home was complete with the corrugated metal roof, windows and doors installed, which left Friday for Lerch Bates, Common Hope and the family to enjoy the accomplishment with cake and a short ceremony where the family shared how much it meant to them and the future for their children.
“Turning over the home that we built to our family was the most rewarding and emotional experience,” an employee-owner said. “To see how happy and appreciative they were brought me to tears and made the heat exhaustion, and some of the hardest work I’ve ever done, so worth it!”
Being able to help a family get one step closer to breaking the poverty cycle is Common Hope’s mission, and we at Lerch Bates are grateful we get to help in that endeavor.
Really engaging with the local community left a lasting impact on our team. When asked to reflect on the importance of international work such as the Common Hope Vision Team experience, nearly everyone pointed to how eye-opening the trip was. One said, “This changed my perspective on severe poverty, and that the things we do actually are impactful. Seeing another culture that is not your own up close and personal changes your life.” Working in Antigua offered some of our employee-owners the chance to see the world from a new perspective and to see how the work they do can genuinely change lives.
Concretely helping the people in Antigua while opening doors to new perspectives for our team, the Common Hope Vision Team experience is a partnership Lerch Bates is proud to participate in. Employing our professional expertise in a meaningful way that fosters community growth is what Lerch Bates seeks to do, and we are grateful to Common Hope for giving us an opportunity to do just that. To find more information on Common Hope or to plan a Vision Team experience of your own, visit www.commonhope.org.