A Letter from EPIC’s Executive Director

A Letter from EPIC’s Executive Director

October 8, 2018
Dear EPIC donors and friends:

EPIC recently completed another inspiring year promoting “a greater understanding of the problems facing the world community today and of the need to respond to these problems….” Your support helps us partner with and strengthen local organizations with projects that make a difference in peoples’ lives “especially in the areas of sustainable agriculture, environmental protection, human rights and promoting peace and justice.” (Founder Fr. Thomas Cowley) We thank you and our partners thank you! I wish you could walk the fields in Guatemala, or witness a health class in Honduras, or see a farmer use an A-frame for the first time in Mexico. Not everyone is able to visit, so it is our privilege in these pages to share inspirational stories and vibrant images with you! This year was unique – for the first time the entire EPIC board traveled to Guatemala to visit our program partners there and then to hold our annual in-person board meeting. As a devoted volunteer board, members covered the costs of their trip from July 27 – August 6.

One of our major partners, FUNDAMARCOS, promotes sustainable agriculture in Baja Verapaz where we visited a school garden in the village of Santa Rosa. The Board interacted with the school children and learned of a true multiplier effect: FUNDAMARCOS promoters teach school children and their teachers the techniques of sustainable farming; the children practice in the garden and harvest the produce to supplement their school lunch; and this new generation teaches those techniques to their families at home! “All of them!” most responded when asked which vegetables they like best! After visiting the school, board members hiked to visit the farm of Marcela and Santos. Inspiring stories we heard are shared in the Reflections page of the Annual Report.

EPIC appreciates a long-term partnership in Guatemala with Mujeres en Acción, a group that began working with widows of the brutal civil war there. EPIC’s support since 2005 has included more than financial resources. As Mujeres’ leadership has worked in partnership with Paul and Mary McKay to respond to special needs in Guatemala, EPIC has been able to help Mujeres strengthen as an organization. More recently, EPIC has supported a music program that enables teens to learn to play instruments and enjoy music with- out going to venues where drugs are sold and gang members recruit. Going beyond notes on the page, Mujeres has worked with more than 250 teens strengthening their self-esteem and providing positive social groups and activities.

During our visit Mujeres honored EPIC by holding a special concert for our Board and the parents of the youth in their bands. Initially the Board planned a major celebration honoring Paul and Mary McKay’s long service supporting EPIC’s partners. In the aftermath of the massive destruction caused by the eruption of Fuego Volcano, such a celebration felt inappropriate. In keeping with the preference of Paul and Mary not to draw too much attention to themselves, we tempered the festivities, but still had an opportunity as a Board and with our long-term partner Mujeres en Acción to celebrate their contribution.

EPIC is now working with Mujeres en Acción to start building housing for those left homeless by the volcanic eruption. Because Mujeres was already working in the effected area, they know and are known by the families, and their responses are adapted to the local needs. Thank you for your generous extra donations to assist the survivors of the eruption which is described in the enclosed Annual Report.

Normally the EPIC board meets for a day after the Annual General Meeting in late summer. This year, because the board met in Guatemala, Brenda and I were pleased to host the AGM at our home on August 25. We again honored Paul and Mary; heard the financial report (Program Grants and Income and Expense reports are enclosed with the Annual Report); and learned of the accomplishments of our partners. As always, Tony Brun, EPIC’s Area Representative in Mexico, Honduras, El Salvador and Colombia, gave us a real feeling for the people and work in Honduras. He also described introducing the farmer-to- farmer approach for teaching sustainable agriculture in a new program in a very poor region of Mexico.

Thank you so much! You make possible the inspiring things that we witness and share with you in these pages.

Barry Bartel, Executive Director

Please be sure to SAVE THE DATE: EPIC’s 42nd Annual Meeting will be held in Colorado on July 20, 2019!
And please visit our web site for easier on-line donation opportunities!