by Erin Treinen, Grants & Communications Coordinator
Four years ago, Patti Petrich and Buck Holzemer walked into the Common Hope office in St. Paul and asked if there was anything they could do to help. A few weeks later they were on a plane to Guatemala to photograph our unsponsored students with the goal of finding them sponsors. Since 2009, Buck and Patti have travelled to Guatemala each year, generously taking time off from their busy schedule with Buck Holzemer Productions to work long fun-filled days photographing hundreds of children. “On every trip to Guatemala we fall in love with the people we photograph and meet, and with the country itself. The staff and volunteers from Common Hope are amazing and wonderful people, inspiring us with all they have done and continue to do. For us, it’s the people of Guatemala and Common Hope who move us to come down every year,” says Patti.
Once they return to Minnesota, they touch up, print, and donate all the portraits to Common Hope so that we may use them in our ongoing quest to find sponsors. Anyone who has seen their photos can attest to their beauty. But there is more to them than that; the photos provoke emotion, giving the viewer a small glimpse into these children’s lives. It is this emotion that moves people to sponsor. Vision Team Coordinator Lauren Ruth said, “ ‘A picture is worth a thousand words’ may be a clichéd saying, but there is no situation in which it is better applied than with Buck and Patti’s photos. I could talk about sponsorship until I’m blue in the face, but when I pull out the photos of our affiliated kids, visitors’ eyes light up. It’s through their photos that the first connection between sponsor and affiliated child is made and that is truly special.”
Patti and Buck are both sponsors themselves and visit their sponsored children each year they come to Guatemala. Patti was moved to sponsor in honor of her late mother and her niece, who was adopted from Guatemala. “Sponsorship allows me to carry on my mom’s memory and to give back to the country my niece came from by helping two young girls get an education,” says Patti. “Sponsorship also gives me the amazing opportunity to develop relationships with the girls and their families. It makes me feel like I am really a part of something so much bigger than myself, and yet it is very personalized and fulfilling. It is a great feeling to know you are helping someone else have a better life.”
During the past four years, Buck and Patti have traveled to Guatemala five times, sponsored three students, taken more than 1,000 portraits, and recorded eight videos for Common Hope. We are so grateful to Buck and Patti for their ongoing support! Their most recent photos and videos were shared at our Noche de Colores fundraiser in May and our campaign to spark hope for 25 children this spring.