Every week we’ve been highlighting people in our community who've impacted the lives of Latinos in South Florida. A nonprofit organization, based out of Lake Worth, has been serving families in need for decades.
The Guatemalan-Maya Center has helped hundreds of thousands of families.
”He’s been always telling me that whatever I decide [to do], God is always with me and by having God by me nothing is impossible,” said Ernesto Juan Ramirez.
Ernesto and his family moved to the U.S. in 2015.
“We decided to come here because in Guatemala you’re not safe in your own house,” said Ernesto.
Ernesto says the nonprofit helped his mother learn how to use a computer and get necessities like clothes and food.
“They helped her with the application for food stamps and medical assistance. She asked for shoes and clothing for me and my sister and they never denied anything to her,” added Ernesto.
“These are the accounts of all the people who were assassinated by the Guatemalan military when they attacked the Mayan Indian population of Guatemala and that’s when the first Guatemalans came to South Florida in 1980,” said Father Frank O’Loughlin, Executive Director of The Guatemalan Maya Center.
That’s where Father Frank’s commitment to helping Mayan migrant workers started. In 1992, Father Frank founded the Guatemalan-Maya Center to address the dire need for prenatal care for Indigenous women in Palm Beach County.
Over the years, the programs have grown to support the emerging needs of the communities throughout Florida. They serve over 1,000 families each month from over 28 different countries.
“It’s very hard to say that immigrants are successful. They leave the places where they were most valuable. [Immigrants] lay down their lives for their children,” said Father Frank.
“Just looking at him and what he has done for the Guatemalan community, it’s impressive. I don’t have words for that, said Ernesto.
The nonprofit offers programs such as the Parent Child Home program, which teaches parents about how to related to their children while promoting new language skills. They also offer after school care programs. to learn more click here.