27. Students Host Fashion Fundraiser for Guatemalan Family

5 mins read
Hope's In Co-Founder Courtney Quigley in Guatemala

If you’ve been reading our posts here at 365Barrington.com for a while, you know we love to write about upcoming events and the people behind the many things to do in Barrington.  Today, we’re taking a new approach.  In a new series called Good Works, we’ll be inviting guest writers to share posts about people helping others and ways we can get involved.

Good Works
Helping Hands in Barrington, Illinois

Our first guest post is from a Barrington High School Junior named Courtney Quigley.  We asked Courtney to share, in her own words, the experience that motivated her to organize a fashion show fundraiser in Barrington this weekend.  The purpose of the event is to help build a home for a Guatemalan family living, among rats, in a shack surrounded by garbage.

Courtney Quigley in Guatemala
Courtney Quigley with Children in Guatemala

The student fashion show is called Hope’s in Style, it’s happening at The Garlands Center for The Performing Arts from 1 to 4 p.m. this Sunday, February 24th, and we’re all invited.  All proceeds from the event will go to Pottter’s House Association to build a house for 8-year-old Monica Morales and her seven family members who currently call a Guatemala City garbage dump their home.

Living Conditions at Guatemala City Garbage Dump - Courtesy of Courtney Quigley
Living Conditions at Guatemala City Garbage Dump – Courtesy of Courtney Quigley

And that’s where I’ll let Courtney Quigley herself pick things up.  I hope you will be moved, as I was, by her story…

Hope’s in Style

by Courtney Quigley, Barrington High School Junior

When I was younger, I really thought I knew exactly where my life was going. At seven years old, I wanted to be a world famous actress.  Later, I decided that I wanted to be a chef. The third ambition was to become a doctor. But things change in your mind when they change in your heart.

Courtney Quigley in Guatemala
Courtney Quigley in Guatemala

Things changed for me when my family went on our first trip to Guatemala. I was eight years old and my younger sister was only five.  On that trip, we worked with an organization called Kids Around The World that builds playgrounds in places affected by war, poverty, illness and natural disasters.  At this time in my life I spoke no Spanish, so I thought I would not be able to communicate with all the children that we met. But I was so wrong.

Courtney Quigley (Center) Playing with Children in Guatemala
Courtney Quigley (Center) Playing with Children in Guatemala

My mom threw my siblings and me a soccer ball and the kids slowly but surely came over to us. We played soccer for the next three days. By the time the playground was ready I had made friendships, learned how bad I was at soccer and, most importantly, I found a place in my heart that was especially dedicated to Guatemala.

Guatemala City has about 1 million people living in it. These million people produce a lot of trash. All their trash is dumped in a 40-acre ravine.

Guatemala City Garbage Dump
Guatemala City Garbage Dump – Courtesy of Courtney Quigley

As you can imagine, homeless people in Guatemala City have naturally migrated there. In fact, three generations of human beings, fathers, brothers, sisters and mothers have lived in that trash and built whole communities out of it.

A Home in the Guatemala City Garbage Dump
A Home in the Guatemala City Garbage Dump – Courtesy of Courtney Quigley

That is where Potter’s House comes into play.

They are a non-profit organization that provides a holistic approach and resources for people living in the garbage dump community.  Potter’s House is located right in the center of it all.  Their building is surrounded by shacks and trash.

Garbage Dump Community in Guatemala - Courtesy of Courtney Quigley
Garbage Dump Community in Guatemala – Courtesy of Courtney Quigley

Last year, I applied for a summer internship with Potter’s House. After many months of waiting I was accepted to be an intern for 1 month. I was so happy and overwhelmed with excitement. After overcoming a few hurdles, I boarded a plane by myself on July 1st and embarked on a journey that would become the most beautiful month of my life.

That is where I met Monica Morales. Monica is so kind and quiet.  She is 9 years old.

Monica Morales - Courtesy of Courtney Quigley
Monica Morales – Courtesy of Courtney Quigley

Monica and her family live in a house that is 90 sq. ft. I have been in their house.  It is dark and extremely dirty. It is home to 8 people, including Monica’s 15-year-old sister who has a newborn baby.

Post 300 - Courtney Quigley with Monica MoralesOne day, Monica and her sister, Zulma, came into the health clinic run by Potter’s House.  Monica’s sister had a filthy rag wrapped around her wrist – one that most of us wouldn’t even dare use to clean our floors. Under the rag was a pool of dried blood.

The little girl shared that it was a rat bite.  In the community rats are very common.  They crawl into the children’s beds and bite them during the night.  In fact, mothers of young babies have to stay up all night and hold the babies; otherwise the rats will kill them.

The staff at the health clinic cleaned off the bite and wrapped it in a sterile bandage. Later at lunch, they noticed that the bandage was missing!  They asked what happened, and Zulma said her mother took off the bandage to clean the other rat bites on her legs. She hadn’t even mentioned these bites at the clinic.

With the help of Potter’s House, I am determined to help this family have a real house, one with cement walls to keep out the rats.

On February 24, from 1 – 4 p.m., I am coordinating a charity fashion show called Hope’s In Style at the Garlands Center for Performing Arts.   I have the help of 17 Barrington High School students who are designing outfits for some of the Guatemalan people who live in the garbage community.

At the fashion show, volunteer models will showcase the stylist’s designs, and the audience will vote on the best stylist-model team.  Shortly thereafter, I will be traveling to Guatemala to deliver the outfits, and all proceeds from the event will go to Potter’s House to build the Morales family a home.

Morales Family Members in Guatemala
Morales Family Members in Guatemala – Courtesy of Courtney Quigley

Tickets for the event are $35; $20 for students and can be purchased through the mail.  Please make check payable to Hope’s In Style, and send to 220 Weatherstone Road, Barrington, Ill., 60010.  Donations are greatly appreciated and are tax deductible.  All donation checks should be made payable to Potter’s House and can be sent to the same address.

It’s interesting because, when you walk through the garbage dump communities, you think that people who live like this would never be happy.  But that was proven wrong the second I walked into the children’s lunch room at Potter’s House. The children were laughing and playing. They ran happily into my arms.  And, for a few moments, I tricked myself into thinking that these children were fine.  In fact, this is a problem that inhibits the people living in the dump from getting help. Guatemalans think these people don’t want to leave the dump and because of that they don’t help.

Living Conditions in Guatemala - Courtesy of Courtney Quigley
Living Conditions in Guatemala – Courtesy of Courtney Quigley

But when you see children playing in dirty puddles, when you walk past tin shack after tin shack and hear babies crying in every other one, you know that the reality is no child, or adult, should ever live like this.

I hope you will help us.  For more information or to get involved, please email hopesinstyle@yahoo.com.  Find Hope’s in Style on Facebook.  Follow @HopesInStyle on Twitter.  For more information on Potter’s House, CLICK HERE to find them on Facebook or visit their website at www.pottershouse.org.gt.

Guatemala City Garbage Dump - Courtesy of Potter's House on Facebook
Photo Courtesy of Potter’s House on Facebook


  1. Courtney’s initiative in helping others is remarkable. Sadly I am unable to attend the fashion show but I will send a donation.

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