Tobie , thanks for joining us, excited to have you contributing your stories and insights. Day to day the world can seem like a tough place, but there’s also so much kindness in the world and we think talking about that kindness helps spread it and make the world a nicer, kinder place. Can you share a story of a time when someone did something really kind for you?
Years ago, I had the incredible opportunity to meet the remarkable woman, Lynda Brown. Despite being twice my age, Lynda became both a friend and a mentor to me. Amidst the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, we found solace in sitting outside on lawn chairs, brainstorming ideas to enhance our respective non-profit organizations. Lynda’s involvement with a fantastic organization called “Kids Eat,” which had recently been taken over by a well-funded entity, opened doors for us to collaborate and make a difference.
In her generous spirit, Lynda introduced me to the founders and the team at the larger foundation, urging me to reach out to Sylvia, a key figure within it. Following her advice, I contacted Sylvia to explore the possibility of securing a grant to support our community in Guatemala. This was the first time we had ever applied for a grant, and the process was quite daunting. However, with Lynda’s guidance, we navigated through the application, ensuring that all the questions were answered comprehensively and the financial figures were well-aligned.
As we sent in the grant application, we hoped for the best but were astounded when we learned that we had been awarded the largest amount of money we had ever received. It was an unforgettable moment when, on the eve of my birthday, I received an email informing us that the grant had been approved. Thanks to this blessing, we now had funding to provide nearly 3,000 meals each month to a Guatemalan community struggling with malnutrition for a year and a half.
More recently, the president of the Foundation that supported us journeyed to Guatemala to experience our work firsthand. His visit not only reaffirmed the significance of our efforts but also solidified the partnership with the Foundation. Their regular contributions have had a profound impact on our non-profit, enabling us to pay fair wages to our Guatemalan team members and create job opportunities for the people in our community. Together, we are actively combating malnutrition and making a significant difference in their lives.
It is without a doubt that we owe much of our success and transformation to the kindness and introduction from Lynda Brown. Her unwavering support and belief in our mission have played an instrumental role in shaping who we are today. We will forever be grateful for her guidance, which has opened doors to new opportunities and allowed us to touch the lives of countless individuals in need. Lynda’s legacy lives on through the positive impact we continue to make, all thanks to her selfless contribution to our cause.
Tobie, love having you share your insights with us. Before we ask you more questions, maybe you can take a moment to introduce yourself to our readers who might have missed our earlier conversations?
Tobie is the founder and director of the nonprofit Be Humanitarian. Tobie leads service vacations to Guatemala to help companies, families, and individuals give back while rediscovering what really matters. Her volunteer-run nutrition program is providing thousands of meals a month and her preschool is offering educational support to children, teens, and parents in a remote Guatemalan community. Be Humanitarian’s sewing center has created five full-time positions while providing nutritional support for thousands of families. The entire community is working together to fight childhood malnutrition through education and nutrition and you can join us in making the world a better place.
What’s been the best source of new clients for you?
The primary catalyst behind our tremendous growth has been the power of Word of Mouth. Our dedicated volunteers have been instrumental in spreading the word, inviting their friends to join our cause. Likewise, the support from our committed board members has extended to their own family members, and even generous business owners have sponsored their staff to accompany us on our mission in Guatemala.
A pivotal moment that exemplifies the strength of this organic growth occurred a few years ago, merely four weeks before embarking on a 12-day humanitarian trip. A thoughtful volunteer reached out, inquiring whether we had space for two of her friends to join us. While securing passports was beyond our control, we were fortunate that her friends already possessed them. Determined to accommodate them, we swiftly rearranged our plans, procured a larger bus, and made the necessary arrangements for them to be part of the journey. This kind act marked the beginning of a remarkable journey, as they have since returned to Guatemala with us on three occasions over the past three years. Moreover, their dedication extended to sponsoring three of our children, ensuring they receive a nutritious breakfast daily at school.
Such acts of belief and support from our community have been the lifeblood of our organization, propelling us forward and enabling us to continue our vital work. When people genuinely believe in the impact and significance of what we do, it fuels our determination to make a positive difference in the lives of those we serve. It is the collective belief in our mission that empowers us to carry on and spread hope, transforming the lives of countless individuals in need.
We are humbled by the trust and passion shown by our supporters, and their dedication has been the cornerstone of our growth and success. Together, we will persist in our endeavors, driven by the shared vision of creating a better world and leaving a lasting legacy of compassion and transformative change.
Can you tell us about a time you’ve had to pivot?
In 2020, as the pandemic brought in-person humanitarian trips to a halt, we faced the stark reality that the needs of the Guatemalan people were only going to escalate due to the countrywide lockdown. Undeterred, we made a conscious decision to pivot and respond to the crisis by initiating a breakfast program to feed children in need. My husband and I took the lead and committed to providing nutritious meals for 19 children, three times a week, even if we had to do it without any sponsors.
To spread the word about our mission, we reached out to friends and family, and the response was heartening. The support from generous sponsors started to trickle in, allowing us to gradually expand our reach. With the help of these compassionate individuals, we could increase the breakfast program to five days a week. We also established a preschool program and incorporated lunches for the children. The unwavering support of our sponsors further empowered us to extend our assistance to cover the educational needs of 24 children, leaving a lasting impact on their lives.
In the years that followed, our efforts continued to bear fruit, thanks to the dedicated groups of volunteers who were thrilled to travel and wholeheartedly contribute their time and efforts to make a positive difference in the lives of others.
Our impact extended beyond providing meals. We invested in essential infrastructure, installing wood-burning stoves and water filters, and supporting families to build their homes through loans. Donations of beds, bedding, hairbows, and playdough brought smiles and comfort to those in need. The love and care we shared became a source of hope for the community.
In 2022, our progress took a significant leap forward. We acquired our own land and transformed an old house into our Sewing Center, providing opportunities for skills development and empowerment. Through the collective efforts of our volunteers, we painted and repaired the Sewing Center, turning it into a welcoming space.
Our commitment to nourishing the community continued to thrive, with over 33,000 meals donated to those in need in the past year alone. Additionally, we successfully initiated the garden tower project, producing food for our families and promoting sustainability.
None of these achievements would have been possible without the unwavering dedication of our sponsors, donors, and volunteers. Together, we have created a genuine impact in the lives of hundreds of grateful Guatemalans, leaving behind a legacy of hope, compassion, and transformative change. As we look ahead, we are filled with renewed determination to continue making a positive difference and empower even more lives in the years to come.
- Website: https://behumanitarian.org/
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/be.humanitarian/
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/behumanitarian.org
- Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/tobie-spears-behumanitarian/
- Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/c/BeHumanitarian?sub_confirmation=1
- Other: https://linktr.ee/behumanitarian
Tobie Spears & Brian Paul
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