By Brian Hitsky
What started as a small group of friends trying to raise money so that Ecuadorian families they knew could send their children to school, has turned into a legal foundation that monitors $100,000 a year to support other non-profit organizations as well as to empower women to better their lives.
And to recognize its accomplishments and growth, Hearts of Gold will celebrate its five-year anniversary from 2 to 4 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 17 at the recently moved Vegetable Bar (The Castle), located on 3 de Noviembre, just steps east of the Broken Bridge.
Everyone in Cuenca is invited.
“We’ve come a long way in terms of our goals and objectives, fund raising and training,” said Colleen Eschenburg, Hearts of Gold’s program director. “From those humble beginnings where people raised money from raffles and a Christmas party to purchase school supplies for a few families, we now support five major partners and more than 300 children.
“Our progress has been phenomenal,” she continued. “We’ve sustained growth of about 130 percent yearly.”
Under Ecuadorian strict rules and regulations, groups that desire to become legitimate foundations, must adhere to mountains of paperwork and rigorous compliance and reporting standards.
Hearts of Gold met those requirements on Oct. 23, 2013 when it was recognized by the government as “legal”.
“We want to let our donors, volunteers and the public know what we’ve accomplished in the last five years,” said Eschenburg. “Some of our partners will be at the party to report on their progress, and we feel it’s important to celebrate with the community.”
Hearts of Gold is the only foundation in Ecuador that supports other non-profits.
Over the past five years it has designed programs that allow non-profits to become more sustainable through training in marketing, public relations, fund raising and organization. Another important benefit is that Hearts of Gold brings its diverse partners together so that they can learn from one another and network. Recently, it has developed and enhanced its women’s empowerment program Mirame.
“The partners tell us they are much stronger when they know that other groups have similar issues to resolve, and they can call on one another for solutions,” said Eschenburg.
Eschenburg said that like any good party, fun will be emphasized. A brief presentation is planned, a mix and mingle will take place and there will, of course, be birthday cake for all.
In addition, the Vegetable Bar has generously agreed to provide free snacks and keep a cash bar open until 5 p.m. Guests can also stay for dinner at the Vegetable Bar or Red Dragon Restaurant.