By Loretta Shea Kline, managing editor at Unbound
A spirit of welcome fills the new Nadine Pearce Center, where families in eastern Guatemala gather as part of their local Unbound community.
Nadine was one of the co-founders of Unbound known for her warmth and hospitality. So it’s fitting that the center named in her honor is a home base for families and staff members from Unbound.
“It’s our center,” said Olga, whose son Douglas is sponsored through Unbound. “It’s like having a new home.”
The center is in the city of Guastatoya, in the state of El Progreso. The cool breeze from the Guastatoya River cuts through the heat that permeates the area.
The center serves 9,800 sponsored members and their families, but only 550 of them live in the city, said Mynor Ramirez, regional coordinator for Unbound. The rest come from outlying areas.
“Families who come from far can stay when needed,” Mynor said. “We also will be able to host sponsors on awareness trips or individual visits.”
Besides facilities for overnight stays, the center has offices for staff members; space for meetings, workshops and retreats; and a garden with papaya, coconut, orange and cashew trees.
Families visit regularly to pick up benefits and participate in programs. Families and staff members decided together on the name of the center.
“After learning the story of the founders, I believe this is a small gesture of gratitude to her legacy,” Mynor said. “This is a way of saying, ‘It will continue,’ just as Nadine would have wanted.”
Olga recalled the grand opening of the center that included a blessing of the building and grounds, a marimba band, traditional dances and lunch for everyone.
“It felt like a huge family gathering,” Olga said. “I know Nadine also was with us.”
Scott Wasserman, president and chief executive officer of Unbound, said Nadine was very much a mother figure for the organization she helped start with her brothers Bob, Bud and Jim Hentzen and their friend Jerry Tolle.
Though all of the founders have passed away, their legacy lives on in all who make up the Unbound community — children, youth, families, elderly people, sponsors, volunteers and staff members.
Everyone is made to feel welcome in the Unbound community.
“Hospitality is central to our core mission,” Scott said. “The whole point of the relationship between sponsored members and sponsors is to make space for each other in their lives, and that’s the definition of hospitality.”
“Nadine lived it. It was at her core,” he said.
Olga’s son Douglas didn’t know Nadine personally but said, “I know she had a big heart.”
“I thank the founders for answering the call to serve others,” he added.
Olga summed up what she characterized as the great gift of the founders.
“Nadine, Mr. Bob, all the founders, they did not leave us alone,” she said. “They gave us a big family with thousands of members around the world.”