Wednesday Snapshots

Lifting up those who inspire us to act and think differently

Aura Lila Hernandez

Aura Lila grew up in Los Robles and has been a Brigadista going on 15 years. The youngest of numerous siblings in a small house, she never had a private space to call her own. Four years ago, she had to move in with her sister’s family of eight. To make matters worse, she has chronic pain resulting from back, kidney and ovarian ailments.

In May of 2020, Comunidad Connect donors financed the construction of homes for three families in Los Robles. Each family donated building materials which allowed us to come in under budget, such that we had enough leftover to build a small house for an individual person or couple. We turned to the Brigadistas for suggestions and they asked us to consider Aura Lila. Her selflessness as a Brigadista and her difficult living situation moved us to build her a small home just before the hurricanes hit Nicaragua in October.

Cali, Geneva, Ameila, and Ariel 


Today we lift up a story of generosity from Bentoberfest 2020, our annual fundraiser a few weeks ago. The event was a virtual broadcast, including a 3 hour Dance Party from the home studio of DJ Cali in Atlanta. We were met with open arms by Carlos (DJ Cali), his wife Geneva, and their 7 year old daughter Amelia in the mid afternoon and began to set up in the basement of their home. After helping thwart a threat of flooding, making us dinner, and participating in Bentoberfest upstairs, Amelia and her mother returned to the studio and handed Jon a donation for our Health Connections program. Amelia and her cousin Ariel were moved by the story of Meyling and pulled $15 from their savings! This moment has remained with us since, as it was a small but powerful act of kindness that will have ripple effects from Atlanta to Nicaragua. Thank you Cali, Geneva, Amelia and Ariel for caring for others, sharing our story, and being members of our community of support





Fabretto Children’s Foundation

Today we lift up an organization in Nicaragua that continues to rise to the challenge of educating underserved children. Through early, primary, and vocational education programs, Fabretto Children’s Foundation is an invaluable resource for isolated and disadvantaged families. Particularly now facing unprecedented challenges with online learning, we applaud and give thanks for Fabretto’s creativity and commitment to preparing the next generation of Nicaraguan leaders.

The Health Care Workers of Health Horizons International

Community Health Workers are commonly known as “CHW’s” throughout the world. In Nicaragua, they are called “Brigadistas” and in Montellano, Dominican Republic they are known as “Promotores”. Regardless of their name, they are often the first line of healthcare that remote communities rely on in times of need. They look out for public health concerns, provide education to prevent illness, and advocate for those who need attention. We have had the honor of supporting the community health workers of Health Horizons International since 2018. These men and women are trained to provide basic first aid, patient care, and individual case management and ensure countless chronic patients receive appropriate treatment. They work in urban and rural settings, often walking kilometers in the sun to reach isolated families. Today we celebrate the community health workers of HHI for their leadership, care, and commitment to those less fortunate.

Las Brigadistas de Los Robles

Hoy levantamos a un grupo increíblemente especial de personas que nos inspiran todos los días y hacen posible nuestro trabajo colectivo en Nicaragua. Los Brigadistas de Los Robles son trabajadores de la salud que ofrecen voluntariamente su tiempo para mejorar su comunidad. Ellos sirven como primeros en responder, cuidan a familias aisladas, entregan comidas a los ancianos y predican con el ejemplo para que todos lo sigan. Estos líderes comunitarios organizados abarcan generaciones y sus acciones nos invitan a todos a ser líderes por derecho propio. Particularmente en estos tiempos inciertos, estamos agradecidos de conocer y apoyar a los Brigadistas de Los Robles, porque ellos seguirán presentándose para sus vecinos hoy, mañana y en los años venideros.

Enrique Alvarez

I met Enrique when I moved back to Atlanta after a decade living in Nicaragua. We played in a men’s soccer league and our sons played YMCA soccer together. I partnered with his company Vector Global Logistics to help manage my first import of coffee from Nicaragua in 2016. We have watched each other’s kids grow up on the field and off, and I continue to see Enrique go the extra mile for his family and friends. He recently invited me to join him on the Supply Chain Now podcast to share my story of growing up in Atlanta and the unique path I took to start Comunidad Connect. Minutes after our interview ended, he reached out to me and pledged a recurring donation through Vector, saying “I’m sorry I didn’t think to do this sooner!”. That is the kind of guy Enrique is and it is my honor to lift him up today as this week’s Snapshot of someone who has inspired me to think and act differently in service to others. – JT

Jill Fields

Today we lift up one of the newest members of our community of monthly supporters! Jill is a middle school math teacher from Decatur, Georgia. We met a few months ago when her husband began playing music in their front yard to provide entertainment in their neighborhood during quarantine. Since then, Jill has become a good friend and ambassador for the organization. Although she has never traveled with us to Nicaragua or the Dominican Republic, she believes in the mission and wants to make a difference in the lives of others, both at home and abroad. With a kind soul and a humble heart, we thank you for the friendship and support, Jill!

Ashley McElreath

Today we lift up our longstanding donor and friend, Ashley McElreath. She visited Nicaragua 7 years ago and was particularly moved by seeing the impact clean water can have in rural communities. Before leaving the country, she made a donation in support of our Nica Agua program that provides clean water via ceramic water filters, education, and follow up over the course of two years per family. She has made a gift every month since totaling 76 donations to date. Ashley, thank you for your ongoing support and for demonstrating how a little bit can go a very long way over time and in the company of others.

Sydney Stewart

The pandemic has changed so much of how we operate day-to-day. From online learning and virtual happy hours to collaborating electronically for work, we’ve all had to adjust. Despite these challenges, some awesome people have entered our community along the way. One such person is Sydney, a student from Villanova University who has brought energy and innovation to our team over the past few months. She is incredibly smart, driven, and always brings something to contribute. Her consistency in effort and quality of work will lead her far in life and we’re grateful for the opportunity to collaborate. Thank you, Sydney for all you do!

Adam Cohen

In 2014, Adam visited Nicaragua with the Emory University MBA program. They met with local cooperatives and community organizations, improved homes in the beach town of Gigante and helped paint the Sports Park in San Juan del Sur. Upon returning home, Adam began a recurring donation that continues to this day. In fact, he is the longest standing monthly donor in Comunidad Connect’s history with 80 such donations. We say it a lot, but it is truly another great example of how small acts of kindness go a very long way. Thank you, Adam, for playing an important role in our collective impact for all these years.

Tene Traylor

I met Tene Traylor at United Way in Atlanta in 2001. We managed IDA programs that match the savings of low-income families and improve access to technical assistance so that communities can be viable places to live, work, and play. After several years, I moved to Nicaragua to launch Comunidad Connect and Tene went on to build a career in social impact philanthropy. Her commitment to Atlanta has always inspired me, and as a fellow ATLien, I am honored to serve with her on the board of Atlanta Wealth Building Initiative.

AWBI is a group of thought leaders and influencers firmly committed to the well-being of Atlanta’s Black community. Tene has led AWBI to directly address systemic racism with fearless intention and a laser focus on black entrepreneurs. Her positive spirit is contagious and I lift her up for being an agent of change today, tomorrow and for many years to come. -JT for more information about the racial wealth gap and what can be done about it.

Tene Traylor

I met Tene Traylor at United Way in Atlanta in 2001. We managed IDA programs that match the savings of low-income families and improve access to technical assistance so that communities can be viable places to live, work, and play. After several years, I moved to Nicaragua to launch Comunidad Connect and Tene went on to build a career in social impact philanthropy. Her commitment to Atlanta has always inspired me, and as a fellow ATLien, I am honored to serve with her on the board of Atlanta Wealth Building Initiative.

AWBI is a group of thought leaders and influencers firmly committed to the well-being of Atlanta’s Black community. Tene has led AWBI to directly address systemic racism with fearless intention and a laser focus on black entrepreneurs. Her positive spirit is contagious and I lift her up for being an agent of change today, tomorrow and for many years to come. -JT for more information about the racial wealth gap and what can be done about it.

Jorge Solis

In honor of Father’s Day in Nicaragua yesterday, we lift up Jorge Solis for being an exemplary father to his son Johanssy. During a training session for our San Juan Sel Sur baseball school late last year, I spoke with Jorge about his son and the future. “I know he’s going to be somebody very important in life, somebody that makes this community proud and I dream of seeing that day come”, he told me. Thank you, Jorge, and to all Nicaraguan fathers who work hard to take care and support their families, and help make their children’s’ dreams come true. -AR

 Lola Owokoniran

We met Lolade “Lola” Owokoniran in the Dominican Republic in December 2018. She was accompanying a group of students from Kennesaw State University that Comunidad Connect was hosting on a service-learning trip. She has a Masters of Public Health and works for CIFAL Atlanta; a training branch of the United Nations. As if that was not enough, it was watching her work with students and local community partners that inspired an invitation to join our board of directors.

Lola chairs our Monitoring and Evaluation Committee and has led the way for CC to be part of the UN Training Modules for the Sustainable Development Goals. She is a trail-blazing agent of change on all levels, and we are proud to call her friend and colleague.

LaBrittany Koger

Last summer, LaBrittany joined us in the Dominican Republic for a service-learning experience with Kennesaw State University. Full of spirit, compassion for others and a great sense of humor, LaBrittany is awesome to be around. Yet one of her most endearing qualities is her gift of song. From the moment she boarded the bus until her departure from the island, LaBrittany filled the week with music. She graduated from KSU last December with a Human Services degree and is currently working with Americorps in Atlanta. We recently collaborated with LaBrittany to record a virtual collective song, which will be released in the coming weeks. Thank you LaBrittany!!
El verano pasado, LaBrittany se unió a nosotros en la República Dominicana para una experiencia de aprendizaje y servicio con Kennesaw State University. Lleno de espíritu, compasión por los demás y un gran sentido del humor, LaBrittany es increíble. Sin embargo, una de sus cualidades más entrañables es su don de la canción. Desde el momento en que abordó el autobús hasta su partida de la isla, LaBrittany llenó la semana de música. Se graduó de KSU en diciembre pasado con un título de Servicios Humanos y actualmente está trabajando con Americorps en Atlanta. Recientemente colaboramos con LaBrittany para grabar una canción colectiva virtual, que se lanzará en las próximas semanas. ¡Gracias LaBrittany!

Rafel Vásquez Batista

One of the most rewarding experiences of working in the Dominican Republic is building alongside a man known as Felin. A highly experienced carpenter, his knowledge, sense of humor and energy always energize volunteers and the workplace. Usually, his son and father, Don Martín, also join us. Today we raise them with pride and look forward to working in the Dominican Republic again with volunteers and community partners, Health Horizons International and the Association for the Development of Villa Montellano. FilÍn recently built a bathroom and cellar for future learning groups in Pancho Mateo.

In the photo (from right to left): FilÍn, Pedro, Don Martin and Jon Thompson


Una de las experiencias más gratificantes de trabajar en la República Dominicana es construir junto a un hombre conocido como Felin. Un carpintero de gran experiencia, su conocimiento, sentido del humor y energía siempre vigorizan a los voluntarios y al lugar de trabajo. Por lo general, su hijo y su padre, Don Martín, también se unen a nosotros. Hoy los levantamos con orgullo y esperamos volver a trabajar en la República Dominicana con voluntarios y socios comunitarios, Health Horizons International y la Asociación para el Desarrollo De Villa Montellano. FilÍn construyó recientemente un baño y una bodega para futuros grupos de aprendizaje en Pancho Mateo.

En la foto (de derecha a izquierda): FilÍn, Pedro, Don Martin y Jon Thompson

Coco LaRue

Today we lift up a very special four-legged friend whose story of compassion and action is well worth sharing. Last week, Coco watched our Live Concert to Build Community and decided she could contribute to the cause too. So she grabbed her guitar and began calling her friends to action.

If your furry, scaly, or feathery friend would like to join Coco’s band and or otherwise help raise funds to build houses in Nicaragua, post a picture of them and tag Comunidad Connect so that Coco knows she has their support!

Coco will match the first $500 in donations received by May 18. Your pet can join Coco’s efforts by visiting her fundraising page here:

Brian Lille

Today we recognize Brian Lille for reminding us that small gestures can often have enormous impact. Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, he began playing songs twice a week from his porch for a small crowd of neighbors. As word got around, more people ventured to the lawns and curbs adjacent to his house on Tuesday and Friday evenings. Other musicians emerged and collaborations began, culminating with Brian joining us for our virtual concert last night. Over 750 people connected from across the world, and raised enough money to build an entire house for a family of 5 in rural Nicaragua! Thank you, Brian, for building community through music – your positive energy now reverberates far beyond our neighborhood.

Elder Palacios

We met Elder Palacios in the Dominican Republic in March 2019. He was there with fellow Respiratory Health students from Georgia State University for a week of service learning with Comunidad Connect. A quiet leader, committed advocate, and supportive classmate, Elder checked all the boxes while in country. And he kept going once back in Atlanta by pledging a monthly gift to CC, knowing that a little goes a long way towards alleviating poverty in Nicaragua and the DR. Elder is now on the front lines responding to COVID-19 at Piedmont Hospital in Atlanta, GA. Elder, you inspire us and you are making the world a better place. Thank you!

Kat Bell

Last June, Westminster Presbyterian Church from Greensboro, NC joined us in the Dominican Republic for a week of service-learning and fellowship with the rural community of Severet. It was Kat Bell’s first time in the DR and she immediately connected with the locals. In an article she wrote for the Greensboro News & Record a few weeks later, she reflected on the wisdom received from elders in the community and how the experience continues to resonate with her. Kat recently celebrated her birthday in selfless fashion; starting a campaign to raise funds for our programs in Nicaragua and the DR. In these difficult times, people like Kat show that even though we may be homebound, we can make our impact felt across the world. Sometimes the little things we do make the greatest impact in the lives of others. Thank you, Kat, for inspiring us.

Atlanta Spine Center

Over the years we have graciously received support from many local businesses; the heartbeat of any community. One such establishment is the Atlanta Spine Center. Leaders in their field and in generosity, Drs. Roberto Vargas and Vicky Yarns partner with Comunidad Connect to improve living conditions for the most vulnerable populations in Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic. We are inspired by Atlanta Spine Center’s commitment to improving the lives of others in Atlanta and beyond. Keep up the great work, and thank you for collaborating with Comunidad Connect!

Respiratory Therapists

Our thoughts and praise go out to all respiratory therapists across the world, including those who we know personally from Georgia State University. Many have volunteered their time and expertise with us and our community partners in Nicaragua and Dominican Republic in recent years. We give our thanks to them and so many others who are serving their communities in this difficult time.

We recently spoke with the Director of Respiratory Therapy at GA State, Doug Gardenhire about the crisis. The interview can be found here:

GA State alumni, Daniel Pham was also featured in a snapshot earlier this year:

Learn more about Georgia State therapists on the front lines of the pandemic here: Georgia State Respiratory Therapists Battle Covid-19


Jairo Alberto Arcila

Today is Wednesday, March 25, 2020. It is also the 50th Wednesday Snapshot that we’ve done here. It is the time each week where we lift up and recognize someone who has inspired us to think or act differently. In the spirit of celebrating our 50th snapshot, we will be doing it virtually. This is a time where a lot of us are socially distant and physically separated, but our connectivity has become more important than ever before.

Louisiane Potvin

Today we lift up a talented and inspiring young woman from Oregon. Louisiane or “Lou Lou” is 12 years old and while she has never traveled to Nicaragua, she often donates earnings made from busking with her family (she plays the fiddle). Her father is a good friend and bandmate with Comunidad Connect board member, Mat Mendonca. We send our deepest appreciation to Louisiane and everyone in our community of support for demonstrating solidarity with others in these confusing and uncertain times. Please see the link below for a short video of Louisiane playing at a retirement home in Bend, OR dressed up as a pioneer.

David Gullette

Today we lift up an inspiring individual with a heart close to Nicaragua. David Gullette is an accomplished author, college professor, actor, and community organizer, among others. In 1988 he was instrumental in the creation of Newton / San Juan del Sur Sister City Project, an organization with the mission to improve health and provide education for low-income and excluded people. Since inception, they have renovated over twenty schools and preschools, constructed model homes for teachers, rebuilt playgrounds, sponsored literacy workshops, and supplied donations for schools, medical facilities, and a domestic violence shelter. They also partner with the innovative Free High School for Adults and the Solidarity House women’s shelter as well as build innovative water-purification systems and smoke-free cooking stoves. With similar guiding principles as Comunidad Connect and a shared vision of community development in Nicaragua, we are thankful for David, all that he stands for, and all he will continue to do.

Asociacion Talita Cumi

For 40 years, the Talita Cumi association has been working to provide opportunities and education for people with disabilities and special needs in the Occidente region of Costa Rica. Through the implementation of projects and productive activities such as physical therapy services, a hydroponic nursery, music lessons, a group home, and butterfly reserve, the association aims to improve the quality of life of those who it serves. We are grateful to partner with Talita Cumi next January when we host our inaugural education abroad group, GA State Physical Therapy, to Costa Rica.

Brooke Rundle

When Georgia State Univesity came to us curious about Costa Rica as a future destination for PT/ OT students, we turned to an old friend and colleague for guidance. Brooke Rundle is a San Juan del Sur transplant with over 15+ years of experience in international sports travel with university and junior club teams. Currently, she is the Director of Volleyball Tours & Tournaments in Central America at Bring It Promotions Volleyball Agency. Through this work, she has built a wealth of contacts in Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Puerto Rico and beyond. Brooke not only connects communities but works to combat social and economic injustice through the non-profit sector as well as co-founding a cooperative for adults with disabilities. Thank you, Brooke, for all you do.

Dr. Eliezer Lappots

During the Health Summit in early February, our team in Nicaragua hosted many old friends and partners. However, there were some new faces as well. Dr. Eliezer Lappots is the executive director of Health Horizons International, our partner organization in the Dominican Republic focused on empowering local leaders, strengthening primary health care quality, and promoting public health. Apart from an accomplished resume at a young age, Eliezer is a joy to be around. From his master class presentation of the Social Determinants of Health to his wit and sense of humor, we were grateful and honored to welcome him to Nicaragua.

Emily Ruger and Kara Prestwich

This week we are hosting Drs. Ben and Karen Thrower for their bi-anual Together for Health visit to Nicaragua. In the group are two volunteers who also continue to return year after year. Kara and Emily are on their third trip to the community Los Robles with every desire to continue the tradition going forward. Emily first joined the Throwers in 2017 while Kara traveled as a nursing student with Kennesaw State University. When asked why they keep coming back, Kara responded “after my first visit, I left a little piece of me there and I told myself I needed to return to go find it”.

Robles Noguera Family

Those who visit Nicaragua fall in love with the natural beauty of the country. However, what often supersedes the Land Lakes and Volcanos is the warmth and hospitality of the people. This was certainly the case for me, and I have the Robles Noguera family to thank. They had been hosting Comunidad Connect volunteers for years when I arrived in early 2017 to stay with them during my initial internship in San Juan del Sur. We bonded over my three week stay and they have been my second family ever since. It always brings me joy to return as I know I will be greeted with smiles, big hugs and delicious meals. -AR

Alaniz Castro Family

In the community of Los Robles, Nicaragua, the Alaniz Castro family has been close to our hearts for many years now. From hosting long-term volunteers and storing materials at their home, to project construction and information collection, this family unit has supported our work in many ways. We are so grateful for their friendship and look forward to many more years of collaboration. Pictured from left to right are: Angela, Tingo, Marlena,and Gema. Not pictured are Francis and the many children of the household.

Dr. Anne Lorio

Today we celebrate a special academic partner from Georgia State University. Dr. Anne Lorio is professor of Physical Therapy who has facilitated many education abroad trips with us over the years. Beginning with journeys to Nicaragua, Anne enthusiastically expanded horizons with us in the Dominican Republic in 2018. And now after returning from our scouting visit to Costa Rica over the weekend, she will soon be the first professor to bring students to three countries with Comunidad Connect! A true believer in the value of education abroad, we give thanks to Anne’s commitment to making the world a better place by helping to influence the next generations of change agents.

Daniel Pham

Today we lift up a good friend, volunteer, and valuable member of our community. Daniel Pham traveled with Georgia State University last year to the Dominican Republic to conduct respiratory health assessments and build concrete floors with local residents. He has since graduated and is now a registered Respiratory Therapist at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta- Scottish Rite. At both our events in Atlanta in 2019, Dan volunteered and helped the evenings go smoothly. It’s important to add he is also an excellent billiards player! Thanks for all you do, Dan!

Ben Thrower

Today we continue our series of lifting up inspiring people by recognizing someone who has been a cornerpiece of our work for many years – Dr. Ben Thrower. He’s a board member, program founder, fundraiser, ambassador, and caregiver. Whether in Nicaragua visiting with special needs patients or as Medical Director of the Andrew C. Carlos Multiple Sclerosis Institute at Shepherd Center, Dr.Thrower works every day to improve the lives of others. Thank you, Ben, for your generosity, friendship, and commitment to others.

Grecia Garcia 

For one year, Grecia served as the doctor in the Los Robles clinic alongside our on-staff nurse, Enma. Although her placement through the Ministry of Health is now over, she always visits the community to see old friends and support ongoing activities. With her contagious simile and positive attitude, Grecia is beloved by all. We are grateful to have worked with her and thankful for her friendship in the years ahead.

Johnathan Steppe 

Continuing the Wednesday tradition of celebrating people who have inspired us to think and act differently, we take this opportunity to spotlight our dear friend and colleague Johnathan Steppe. His support and collaboration have directly impacted communities throughout Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic. During the past 6 years, he has brought hundreds of students on education abroad trips, conducted research in both Nicaragua and the DR, and has been a vocal ambassador for the many health promoters and brigadistas in both countries. Thank you, Johnathan, for helping us better understand the vital role of community health workers in isolated communities far from the beaten path. We are better people and stronger advocates because of you. Keep up the incredible work and know that we are forever grateful for your selfless dedication to those less fortunate.

Sheila Calderon 

Our snapshot this week is of Sheila Calderon (on left). She is a thoughtful community leader and social justice advocate who has engaged Comunidad Connect in the Dominican Republic over the last 18 months. Her selflessness and dedication to marginalized communities pervade her personal and professional life, and we are honored to call her friend and colleague. As our work and impact continue to expand in the DR, we look forward to the mutual support that has characterized our partnership since we first met. Thank you, Sheila, for inspiring us in the Dominican Republic!

Westminster Presbyterian 

Today I would like to lift up a special community partner close to home. In the summer of 2016, my parents traveled with Westminster Presbyterian Church for a week-long service trip to Nicaragua. They came back with many photos, heartwarming stories and words of encouragement that I look into the organization that hosted them. Before long, I was off to Nicaragua for a three-month marketing internship with Comunidad Connect. As fate would have it, three months became three years and Westminster continues to be a steadfast partner. As 2019 comes to a close, I’m proud and grateful for all the good works Westminster Presbyterian is doing for both the local and global community. – AR
Hoy me gustaría llevantar a un socio comunitario especial cerca de casa. En el verano de 2016, mis padres viajaron con la Iglesia Presbiteriana de Westminster para un viaje de servicio de una semana a Nicaragua. Regresaron con muchas fotos, historias conmovedoras y palabras de aliento que miro en la organización que los acogió. En poco tiempo, me fui a Nicaragua para una pasantía de marketing de tres meses con Comunidad Connect. Como el destino lo tendría, tres meses se convirtieron en tres años y Westminster continúa siendo un socio firme. A medida que finaliza 2019, estoy orgulloso y agradecido por todas las buenas obras que Westminster Presbyterian está haciendo tanto para la comunidad local como global.

Aloyce “Lulu” Shaw 

We first met Aloyce “Lulu” Shaw in Nicaragua in early 2018. She came with members of her church to work with the community of Los Robles and Comunidad Connect. For many, that would be enough. Instead, Lulu did not stop there. She has sought ways to continue supporting our good friends in Los Robles and recruiting others along the way. 100+ people attended her Blue Moon fundraiser in April 2019, and she continues to be an outspoken ambassador of our collective impact. We lift up Lulu Shaw today for inspiring us and others in her community to be agents of change no matter where they are.

Conocimos a Aloyce “Lulu” Shaw en Nicaragua a principios de 2018. Ella vino con miembros de su iglesia para trabajar con la comunidad de Los Robles y Comunidad Connect. Para muchos, eso sería suficiente. En cambio, Lulu no se detuvo allí. Ella ha buscado formas de continuar apoyando a nuestros buenos amigos en Los Robles y reclutando a otros en el camino. Más de 100 personas asistieron a su recaudación de fondos de Blue Moon en abril de 2019, y ella continúa siendo una embajadora abierta de nuestro impacto colectivo. Levantamos a Lulu Shaw hoy por inspirarnos a nosotros y a otros en su comunidad a ser agentes de cambio sin importar dónde se encuentren.

Brandon Pittman 

Brandon Pittman has been instrumental to the success of Comunidad Connect since the very beginning. He is a technical wizard, inspired colleague, and champion of our purpose. He laughs often, believes that change is possible, and has created our platform for data-driven program development. Brandon first visited Nicaragua with his father and sons in 2010 and a mutual friend introduced him to Jon Thompson and his family at Finca El Peten. He joined the Board of Directors shortly thereafter and continues to invest his time and talents to improve the lives of others every day. Thank you, Brandon, for all you do, and for encouraging us all to follow your lead in our quest to become agents of change.
Brandon Pittman ha sido fundamental para el éxito de Comunidad Connect desde el principio. Es un mago técnico, un colega inspirado y un defensor de nuestro propósito. Se ríe a menudo, cree que el cambio es posible y ha creado nuestra plataforma para el desarrollo de programas basados en datos. Brandon visitó Nicaragua por primera vez con su padre y sus hijos en 2010 y un amigo común le presentó a Jon Thompson y su familia en Finca El Petén. Se unió a la Junta Directiva poco después y continúa invirtiendo su tiempo y talento para mejorar la vida de los demás todos los días. Gracias, Brandon, por todo lo que haces y por alentarnos a todos a seguir tu ejemplo en nuestra búsqueda para convertirnos como agentes de cambio

Aramis “Bobo” Ciriaco Green   

Over the summer I spent 6 weeks in the Dominican Republic in the small town of Montellano. During my stay, I came to know a local artisan named Bobo, and his wife, Ada, quite well. Bobo is an eclectic character with a big heart and lots of stories to share. An accomplished craftsman in his own right, Bobo is endorsed by UNESCO and represents the Dominican Republic at global cultural conferences. However, most days he climbs a spiral staircase to his workshop to craft stone and fossil into works of art, often pausing to visit with neighbors passing by. Above all, Bobo is a teacher and leader with the goal of passing appreciation of the arts to the younger generations of Montellano and surrounding communities. -AR

Durante el verano pasé 6 semanas en la República Dominicana en el pequeño pueblo de Montellano. Durante mi estadía, conocí a un artesano local llamado Bobo, y su esposa, Ada, bastante bien. Bobo es un personaje ecléctico con un gran corazón y muchas historias para compartir. Un artesano consumado, Bobo cuenta con el respaldo de la UNESCO y representa a la República Dominicana en conferencias culturales mundiales. Sin embargo, la mayoría de los días sube una escalera de caracol a su taller para crear piedras y fósiles en obras de arte, a menudo haciendo una pausa para visitar a los vecinos que pasan. Sobre todo, Bobo es un maestro y líder con el objetivo de transmitir la apreciación de las artes a las generaciones más jóvenes de Montellano y las comunidades circundantes.

Health Horizons International (Horizontes de Salud)  

Today we lift up our incredible community partner in the Dominican Republic, Heath Horizons International. They have worked tirelessly for the past 10 years in the DR focusing on chronic illnesses in isolated communities. We are honored to collaborate with their amazing staff and network of health promoters in Montellano. We look forward to a bright future together as we expand our collective impact in the Caribbean.

AMaría Guadalupe “Lupita” González Martínez  

Our community of support reaches far beyond the U.S and includes people like Lupita, a resident of Los Robles, Nicaragua. Lupita is known for helping her neighbors and Comunidad Connect with volunteer labor on project sites. Her friends call her a “super volunteer” and while she helped on yet another home construction this week, they nominated her to receive a future project. She lives with extended family and has never had her own room. With funds raised at Bentoberfest, we will invest in a separate living space for Lupita. After helping put roofs over dozens of families, she will finally have one of her own. Thank you Lupita for all you do!

Adrian Morffi, Lola Owokoniran, Roberto A. Vargas, Jimmy Mitchell   

We are thrilled to welcome four new members to our Board of Directors. They come from distinct backgrounds and bring a unique set of experiences and expertise to our work in Central America, the Caribbean, and the USA. With people like Adrian, Jimmy, Lola, and Roberto on our team, we are well equipped to plan and implement our path forward into a new decade of impact. Their energy, wit, and compassion align with our guiding principles, and we are honored to have them on board! For more info about our board of directors see link below.

Karen Thrower

Today we lift up a cornerstone of our community who has dedicated her life to helping others. Karen Thrower is a pediatrician and co-founder of the Together For Health Program with her husband, Ben. They visited Nicaragua in 2015 on a service-learning journey and quickly established a rhythm of visiting twice a year, checking up on special needs and pediatric patients. To watch Karen in action is something special as she breaks through to shy children with kindness and ease despite a language barrier. We are grateful to both Karen and Ben for all they have given over the past years and look forward to reaching more patients in rural Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic together in the future.

Carey Smith-Marchi

Carey first came into our lives at Comunidad Connect during a service-learning journey in Nicaragua while she was a grad student at Emory University. She continued to stay engaged and after graduation joined the board of directors. A relentless ambassador of CC, she has introduced countless friends and family to our work over the years. Over the last few years, Carey has helped us navigate challenges and expand our impact even when the odds were not in our favor. We lift Carey up for this Wednesday’s snapshot because her thoughtful leadership motivates our entire team and her penchant for innovation has become an integral part of the Comunidad Connect culture.

Doña Petrona Diaz

I met Doña Petrona about ten years ago when I was first introduced to an incredible group of women called Brigadistas. I was told they looked after the elderly, the sick, and the newborns of Los Robles, Nicaragua. They walked kilometers to visit families on the outskirts of their community, and they asked for nothing in return. With their generous contributions of time and energy, Doña Petrona and the other Brigadistas have made our work possible throughout the years and we are forever grateful. -JT

Eurel Gonzalez

One of the most charismatic and enduring people you will ever meet, Eurel is more than just our driver in the Dominican Republic. He is a tour guide, translator, fixer and friend who keeps our volunteers safe as we move around the country. It is because of folks like Eurel that we are able to reach our partner communities, make new connections and continue impacting the lives of those who need it the most.
Una de las personas más carismáticas y duraderas que jamás haya conocido, Eurel es más que nuestro conductor en la República Dominicana. Es un guía turístico, traductor, reparador y amigo que mantiene seguros a nuestros voluntarios mientras nos movemos por el país. Gracias a personas como Eurel, podemos llegar a nuestras comunidades asociadas, establecer nuevas conexiones y continuar impactando las vidas de quienes más lo necesitan.

Together for Health Caregivers

“Parenting is hard. But when you’re raising a child with special needs, the level of care and stress is not just higher—it shifts the foundations of families and adds unimaginable complexities for everyone involved.” Today we lift up and recognize the incredible strength of the caregivers of our Together For Health program patients. From Crisbell’s mother, Tanya, to Raquel’s grandmother, Rosario, the resilience and unconditional love of these caregivers continues to inspire the CC team, Drs. Ben and Karen Thrower, and our entire community of support.

Maria de los Ángeles Pérez Peralta

When the situation in Nicaragua turned south last year, our team shrank in size and we each began to take on more responsibility. One such person is Maria de los Ángeles Pérez Peralta, who before spent most of her time in the office began frequently traveling into the field to support ongoing projects. A role model to many, Maria’s dedication to the communities we serve continues to inspire those around her.

Enma Gutiérrez

Today we celebrate a colleague, friend, and caregiver to many. Enma Gutiérrez started with Comunidad Connect two year ago and has played an essential role in the Health Connections program, the cornerstone of our work. Not only does she support the Ministry of Health in the Los Robles clinic, attending to a catchment area of over 3,000 people, but she manages care and reporting of Together for Health patients to Drs. Ben and Karen Thrower throughout the year.

Jeremy Carroll

Today we recognize a volunteer and friend that continues to contribute his time and resources to make a difference in the lives of others. Jeremy Carroll has participated in four service-learning journeys over the past three years, assisting to construct six Family Impact Projects and two complete homes in the community of Los Robles. A humble guy with a big heart, the CC team always looks forward to his return.

Eliesel Hernandez

Over the year and a half we have worked in the Dominican Republic, Eliesel Hernandez (Eli) has played an essential role. He is one of those guys who instantly connects with people; bringing positivity wherever he goes. His sense of humor, enthusiasm for the work, and interpretation skills inspire, while his ability to engage a group of volunteers is uncanny. Through song, dance, and laughter, Eliesel will continue to make a difference in his community for years to come. – AR .
Durante el año y medio que hemos trabajado en República Dominicana, Eliesel Hernández (Eli) ha sido esencial. El es uno de esos tipos que se conecta instantáneamente con la gente; trayendo positividad donde quiera que vaya. Su sentido del humor, entusiasmo por el trabajo y habilidades de interpretación lo inspiran, mientras que su habilidad para involucrar a un grupo de voluntarios es impresionante. A través de canciones, bailes y risas, Eliesel continuará marcando la diferencia en su comunidad en los años venideros. – AR

Meyling Arauz

With the love of a mother, we can achieve the impossible! Meyling Arauz is the mother of Meyling Ariadna (age 3), a patient of the Together for Health program who was diagnosed at birth with a syndrome affecting her vertebrae, trachea, and esophagus development. Through self-sacrifice and enormous faith, Meyling fights day in and day out beside her daughter in her illness. Even in the worst moments, she is always positive and never gives up. – Enma Gutiérrez

Comunidad Connect Sustainers

In February 2013, a Comunidad Connect volunteer helped build a health clinic and upon returning home, pledged $10 a month to support our Health Connections program. Since then, more and more people have become recurring donors and have sustained our work with over $100,000 to date. This has benefited thousands of local residents who otherwise would not have access to critical health services.

With fewer volunteers able to travel to Nicaragua, our network of monthly donors has become a lifeline for our staff and community partners. For our Wednesday Snapshot, we lift them up and give thanks for their past, present and future support.

Don Guadalupe Gadea Altamirano

Today’s snapshot comes in the form of a video taken by our Director of Community Development, Yarisleidy Cortez. She and Don Guadalupe have worked together for two years now, constructing projects in rural Nicaragua that have improved the lives of hundreds of community residents. Thank you to our generous donors and service-learning groups for facilitating this incredible collective impact.

Sara Adams

Today we recognize our longest giving recurring donor, Sara Adams, for her steadfast support and thoughtful generosity. Thank you, Sara, for your kind and inspiring message.

“I decided to begin a recurring donation because I was touched by the grassroots level of intersection with the community. I feel that Comunidad Connect is committed to coming alongside the community members to strengthen them, encouraging independence and stability. With immigration so much in the news lately, I’ve been thinking that perhaps organizations like Comunidad Connect are an important part of the conversation. Improving the living conditions and opportunities of the people lessens the need to flee the hardships that so many refugees face”.

Alejandro Jose Noguera Castro

A baseball star turned community organizer, Alejandro has impacted the lives of thousands of young people in San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua and surrounding cities. He is a role model for young and old alike and his contribution of over ten years to youth development in his community speaks volumes about his character.
Alejandro, una estrella del béisbol que se convirtió en organizador comunitario, impactó las vidas de miles de jóvenes en San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua y las ciudades aledañas. Es un modelo a seguir para jóvenes y adultos por igual y su contribución de más de diez años al desarrollo juvenil en su comunidad dice mucho sobre su carácter.

Virginia Chavarria

Doña Virginia is one of the most active Brigadistas (health volunteers) in the community of Los Robles, Nicaragua. A main source of support at the health post and with all activities, Virginia’s creativity, and happiness inspires me to help others. Every day she contributes her time and energy for the betterment of her community and I’m grateful to know her. – Enma
Doña Virginia es una de las Brigadistas más activas en la comunidad de Los Robles, Nicaragua. Una fuente principal de apoyo en el puesto de salud y con todas las actividades, la creatividad y la felicidad de Virginia me inspiran a ayudar a los demas. Todos los días, ella contribuye con su tiempo y energía para mejorar su comunidad y estoy agradecida de conocerla. – Enma

Kener González Aguilar

Kener es un niño joven que acaba de cumplir 13 años. Pero a partir de los 5 años, ha dividido su tiempo entre los juegos de un niño y las responsabilidades de un adulto, algo muy común en las comunidades rurales. Su risa y timidez reflejan sus sueños, sin embargo, sus manos callosas muestran una realidad diferente. Cuidando a su familia mientras su madre soltera trabaja, Kener hace sacrificios que la mayoría de nosotros nunca podríamos imaginar. ” Mamá, no te preocupes, podemos ir a clases el proximo año. Este año deberías comprar unos zapatos para que tus pies no te hagan daño mientras estás trabajando “. La empatía y amor de Kener por su familia nos muestran que la promesa de un mundo mejor a menudo se oculta, olvidada e ignorada entre la pobreza y la desigualdad. – YC

Yarisleidy Cortez

Anyone that meets her immediately knows that she is special. Whether it’s building projects in the field or leading community discussions, Yarisleidy brings positivity and productivity. The work she has facilitated has impacted the lives of thousands of people in Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic, and that number will only continue to grow. To support her is to enact positive change in the world and I’m honored to be her co-worker and friend. -AR
Cualquiera que la encuentre de inmediato sabe que ella es especial. Ya sea que esté construyendo proyectos en el campo o liderando discusiones en la comunidad, Yarisleidy aporta positividad y productividad. El trabajo que ella ha facilitado ha impactado las vidas de miles de personas en Nicaragua y la República Dominicana, y ese número solo seguirá creciendo. Apoyarla promueve un cambio positivo en el mundo y me siento honrado de ser su compañero de trabajo y amigo. -AR

Barbara Blake

A fearless traveler and life-long educator, Barbara has inspired countless people with her tenacity, inquisitive mind and loving heart. She is a steadfast champion of community health, and has worked in Swaziland, Nicaragua, Dominican Republic and Kennesaw State University. She has led study abroad groups, obtained research grants, and is a regular donor to Comunidad Connect. Although she recently retired from teaching, her legacy lives on in the hearts of her students, colleagues and communities around the world. We lift her up today as inspiring proof that people can indeed make extraordinary impact in the world. Thank you Barbara for your trust and partnership.

Guadalupe Palma

Tomorrow is Mothers Day in Nicaragua, and for Snapshot Wednesdays I lift up a very special person in my life – someone who I have not spoken with in several years but someone I carry in my heart every day. Guadalupe Palma is the matriarch of her community El Tambo, a committed leader for the municipality of Tola, and is the selfless, hard-working, and dignified woman that personifies the Nicaraguan Mother. She is a friend, colleague, and parent for countless people, and I count myself lucky to be a part of her extended family. I know I always have a place in her home, and she knows that mi casa es su casa tambien. Thank you Dona Guadalupe, for all you do. And congratulations to all mothers on your special day! – JT

Artis Trice

Artis is a geography student from Kennesaw State University who recently joined us for a service learning journey in the Dominican Republic. Fluent in Spanish, Artis’s confidence shown through as he lead exchanges and created special moments with communities throughout the week. A humanitarian, communtiy activist, and student leader, Artis will continue making a difference in this world and in the lives of others.
Artis es un estudiante de geografía de la Universidad Estatal de Kennesaw que recientemente se unió a nosotros para un viaje de de servicio en la República Dominicana. Con fluidez en el español, la confianza de Artis se manifestó a través de sus intercambios y creó momentos especiales con las comunidades durante toda la semana. Artis, activista de la comunidad y líder estudiantil, continuará haciendo una diferencia en este mundo y en las vidas de los demás.


Ribe is young community leader who represents the best of his generation in the Dominican Republic. We are happy and inspired to be supporting him and his endeavors to improve sanitation in his community with little access to it. He also follows his passion of sport by engaging youth through soccer. Because of folks like Ribe, we are welcomed as colleagues, friends and agents of change in the Dominican Republic.

Matthew Mendonca

Mathew Mendonca is a humble man with a big heart and great taste in music. After a visit to Nicaragua in 2010 through the Cultural Connections program, Mat left inspired to return and be a part of something larger. Soon to follow was a pilot project that would later become the Nica Agua project; a clean water initiative that has benefited thousands of people. He has since been a member of the board of directors and remains committed to the success and growth of the organization. A true friend and innovator, Mat exemplifies what Comunidad Connect is all about.


Francisco lives in rural Dominican Republic with his wife and two children. He is active military, serving as a public safety officer in historic Puerto Plata. Amidst personal economic challenges, Francisco’s dedication to country, family, and neighbors is inspiring and his hospitality has a lot do with why Comunidad Connect is working in Dominican Republic.

Roxana Ubeda

Resilient, loyal, beautiful, and strong. Women have long been the backbone of families and communities in Nicaragua. Today we lift up Roxana Ubeda for being a positive role model for young women anywhere and reminder that believing in oneself is the first step to success.

Joaquin Batista

Joaquin Batista is a man on a mission: to improve the quality of life for rural communities in the Montellano municipality of the Dominican Republic. His exhausting work ethic reflects his deep empathy for others and his ambitious vision for his region has drawn the attention of partners like us. Our impact in the D.R. is possible because of Joaquin. We look forward to collaborating with him and the Montellano Community Development Association for years to come.

Translate »
Skip to content