It’s a busy weekend for Barrington High School senior, Courtney Quigley! Not only is she this year’s BHS Homecoming Queen, the organization she founded, Hope’s in Style, is hosting a special event in Barrington tomorrow to introduce guests to the leaders of Potter’s House International who are in town from Guatemala.
Potter’s House is the organization Courtney has spent the past few summers helping in their mission to assist and find homes for families and children living in Guatemala City’s garbage dump.
Courtney is inviting us to come and meet Potter’s House co-founder and President Gladys and Edgar Guitz from 4 to 6 pm tomorrow, October 6th, at the Garlands of Barrington. Admission is free and all are invited.
They will share their story and show you how Potter’s House is changing the lives of, not only the garbage dump’s residents, but also their volunteers like Courtney Quigley, her family and friends. Courtney and a group of about two dozen other teens from Barrington traveled to Guatemala for nine days this summer to help Potter’s House build two homes for families living in the garbage dump community. Here’s a quick video by BHS freshman, Addi Coy, offering a look at their work from this summer…
We asked Courtney to write about her experience to give us a better picture of the work they’re involved with and the reasons why we should consider helping.
Stories of Hope in Guatemala City
by Courtney Quigley, Barrington High School Senior
Chloe dipped the napkin-sized rag into the water and brought it carefully to Johanna’s feet. With great care she began to wipe the dirt and debris off the callused heel of Johanna’s left foot. After covering the entirety of both of Johanna’s feet she placed them back into her shoes. The truth is in those precious moments, all the tears of the onlookers and Johanna could have cleaned the sole of every foot in the thirteen Guatemala City garbage dump communities. The infinite amount of tears could have flooded the whole house. They were tears of joy, of love and of hope.
We weren’t the first servants to wash the feet of those we cared about. No, the very first one to do this was Jesus. He washed the feet of His disciples at the last supper. He did it out of humility and His desire to bless not only the feet of those He loved but also the paths in which their life would take them down.
This was the blessing we wanted to extend to Johanna. Washing Johanna’s feet was the final celebration of our trip but by no means was it the finale. In fact, our trip was full of beautiful moments like these.
The journey began when our fashion show fundraiser earlier this year, Hope’s in Style, raised double our goal. Initially Hope’s in Style was working to build one house in the Guatemala City garbage dump communities but actually raised enough money for two.
That second house is what brought a team of 26 people from Barrington to Guatemala last summer. All summer we worked hard to raise additional funds so we could do more projects as we served in the communities through Potter’s House Association. Through car washes, garage sales and lemonade stands we were able to fund a few other projects! We had a dance camp for all the girls and a soccer camp for the boys. Each soccer camper even received a brand new soccer jersey donated by BASA. The fundraisers also allowed us to renovate a home in the communities. Additionally we received funds from a church in the U.S. to build another house.
Though the week was one of the most challenging weeks of our lives, it was also one of the most wonderful. Scraping, spackling and painting walls, manually mixing concrete and drilling on new roofs each day was physically exhausting. Perhaps we received inner strength as we witnessed the children from each family working enthusiastically alongside us day by day.
Also, there was an emotional exhaustion that we all met. It is heartbreaking seeing the children playing barefoot in the streets lined with broken glass, animal waste, and trash. But through the children’s broken stories they shared their smiles with us. It was incredible to hear their laughs through all the hardship life had brought them. Each one of us connected very deeply with the people we met.
On our final day serving at Potter’s House it was time to dedicate the houses to the families. For the houses we built we would turn over the keys and the house that we renovated we would celebrate the hopeful change with them as well. Each dedication was accompanied by a worship song and prayer. This was the day families had awaited for several years. All the families have lived in the communities for over a decade in a shack made from scraps they found in the garbage dump. But that day, their reality changed. They had a dignified house equipped with, for the first time in their lives, a toilet and shower.
Yes, the work was hard but nothing was more challenging than saying goodbye. We exchanged hugs and gifts with the families. We told them we would always remember them. We told them we would continue to pray for their families. Though we couldn’t stay by their side for as long as we wanted, I am confident we will carry each of the people we met in our hearts forever.
Little did the families know that this “goodbye” was actually just a “see you next year” because our team decided that we wanted to share that experience again. We will be returning next year for another trip. It is open to anyone looking for a purposeful and compassionate week of service.
The founders of Potter’s House will also be speaking at a Hope’s in Style event October 6th at the Garlands. This event, Stories of Hope, is free and open to the public. Our whole team will also be there to share our experiences.
So Chloe stood up with love in her heart. She embraced Johanna who too had tears streaming down her face. Chloe joined in for the chorus of the worship song and realized the impact Johanna had made on her life. This house meant hope – she and her fellow volunteers had helped build that hope.
To get involved with Hope’s in Style, the organization Courtney formed here in Barrington to help Potter’s House, CLICK HERE to find their Facebook page and to learn more about Potter’s House, visit PottersHouse.org.