BOARD OF DIRECTORS
The Board of Directors is the governing body of SaludosNiños! and is responsible for the fiduciary and strategic oversight and direction of the organization. Board members support 100% of the SaludosNiños! annual fundraising. Members serve without compensation.
Co-chair/Founder & Board Member
Sheila is a retired teacher with extensive experience designing and implementing children's programs for the Canadian Museum of Nature and various schools and community groups in and around the Ottawa area (Canada). Her Environmental Studies program to helped students understand interconnections and make use of storytelling, music, arts and crafts through hands on experiences.
When she visited Guatemala almost 20 years ago, Sheila recognized a need for education. Since that time, she and partner Brian have been developing this project to provide early education and proper nutrition for impoverished Mayan children. Currently, Sheila is working to involve students from local Canadian schools wishing to participate meaningfully in various outreach programs.
Co-chair/Founder & Board Member
As an educator, Brian spent the majority of his career as Director of the Environmental Education Centre for the Western Quebec School Board offering programs in adventure training, special education and environmental studies. He also has a personal passion for building and construction projects. Brian has taken his experience working with children and his love for construction to Guatemala, where he works with SaludosNiños! to improve and expand the school and yard. He has also participated in other off-site construction projects to benefit the local people.
Astrid Pregel is the Executive Director for WEConnect International in Canada the leading global non-profit certification body for women owned businesses. Astrid had a distinguished career in the Canadian Foreign Service serving in Asia, Africa, and the United States. She has also worked with international multilateral institutions, led other non-profits organizations and foundations and held policy roles in Canadian international development. She is widely recognized as a thought leader in the area of gender analysis, women’s economic empowerment, micro, small and medium enterprises, women’s entrepreneurship, microfinance, international development policy, and global supply chains and minority interest.
Anne-Marie landed in Guatemala for the first time in 2009 in Antigua. Since then, Guatemala has become her second home. Through the years, she recounts stories of the wonderful people who showed her their culture and their true heart. Since 2010, Anne-Marie has got involved as a leader for different high schools trips from Canada who wanted to get involve and make a difference in Guatemalans life. Since 2013, she has engaged herself with the indigenous communities around Atitlan Lake. She has decided to live there and share her knowledge with these communities. Anne-Marie met Sheila and Brian through Mateo and since then has joined the effort to work hand and hand to improve kids' life around this beautiful lake.
Brian Evenchick is a retired sales executive who operated a jewelry manufacturing operation until 2008. He sat on the board of the Canadian Jewelry Association from 1998 through 2004. He met Brian Swan canoeing in 1998 and became inspired by the work he and his wife Sheila were doing in Guatemala. Despite limited computer skills Brian created and maintained a blog for the program as a way to explain their mission and keep people up to date. In 2014, he and his wife, Marie Arsenault volunteered for a week in Guatemala, working in the Panyebar community early learning and nutrition centre. Having participated in such a hands on way, he continues to work to inform others through social media of what they can do to support this project.
Mateo first visited in Guatemala was back in 2004. He suddenly fell in love with the different mix of communities around the lake Atitlan in the highlands, their lifestyles and their devotion to keep their Mayan culture alive. He has since come back, to this region every winter. He stays involved with whatever he can working along with them with different NGOs, such as Rising Minds. In 2010 he met an incredible couple (Brian Swan and Sheila Silver), who were working with the same communities. They joined forces, and over the years have put time and effort to them by workshops and activities regarding their needs.
Ann first visited Guatemala in 1988 and fell in love with the people in this fabulous country. In 2009, she and her husband Kent spent four months in Panyebar, living with a local family and working with the middle school, Colegio Bethel. This experience led to strong friendships and connections and opened the opportunity to further involvement in the community, including supporting the local library. Ann taught middle school science for 10 years and now works as a curriculum developer at UC Berkeley. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area where she loves to bike, hang glide, and work with local environmental groups.
In true small world fashion, Natalie learned about SaludosNiños! when she bought Guatemalan handicrafts from Sheila at the Wakefield Fair Trade Show. She quickly learned that Sheila and Brian lived just down the road in Wakefield and that they operated a education and nutrition centre in Panyebar, Guatemela, a village just a bus ride away from Lake Atitlan where Natalie had spent a month the previous winter. In 2018, Natalie enjoyed visiting SaludosNiños! several times during her stay in Guatemala to take photographs and help with whatever projects were on that day. She now works with Sheila and Brian by providing web editing, social media services, technical support and photography for the project.
Meet the people who make SaludosNiños! work every day.
Delores Escun de Leon
Program Director & Teacher
Wife and mother of 7 children, Delores is a welll known community advocate and the Program Director for SaludosNiños!. She selects the children for admission to SaludosNiños! from among the most needy in the community. She also actively promotes education for women and children. Over the years, she has attended teacher and medical training from Infantiles SOS, World Vision and from Saludos Niños!
She's been involved with projects benefiting the community like better road access and the opening of the first children's program in Panyebar, which she ran out of her house. She sees community as a safe place where parents can leave their children without fear of them being hurt or mistreated and where the children can be trained to reach their potential. Education goes hand in hand with happiness.
Aracely Ixcamporic Puac
Aracely has been a teacher at SaludosNiños! for over 5 years. With few opportunities for women in her community, Aracely was excited to be offered a teaching position at SaludosNiños!, which has enabled her to contribute economically to her family. Like other teachers at the school, she has taken numerous courses and training to allow her to become a most effective teacher for young children.
Juana Garcia Tzep
Wife and mother of 4 children, Juana is a teacher at SaludosNiños! She believes that it is a gift from God to be able to work with children and is thankful for the patience and sense of responsibility to give 8 hours a day to this worthwhile work.
She enjoys being able to share with her fellow teachers, working hand in hand while teaching with much love and affection for the little children in Panyebar.
Lucy Ixcamparic Escun
Lucy is our youngest and newest teacher. She often assisted her mother Dominga in her class over the years, thus gaining valuable teaching experience for a career she hoped to have one day. In January 2018, Lucy stepped in to take over her own classroom where the kids already know and respect her. All the staff welcomed her with open arms.
Rosario Cortez Gonzales
María Castro Jorge
Wife and mother of 3 young children, Rosario joined the SaludosNiños! team in the capacity of liaison 5 years ago. She was trained in her role by Paty Morales Perez (former liaison officer) and Sheila Silver. She visits the centre weekly to ensure that the project is running smoothly.
Rosario offers help with teacher activities, visits homes to better understand the family situation, assists with distribution of donations and preparation of classroom materials and special event activities. She also sends photos to Sheila Silver to provide regular updates on the schools' activities.
Wife and mother of 2 children, Maria works as the cook at SaludosNiños!. She prepares 2 well balanced, nutritious meals and 2 snacks daily for 70 people in the busy, well stocked SaludosNiños! kitchen. She helps mums who rotate into the kitchen daily learn about good food and how to prepare healthy meals.
Past contributors to our program include former Board Members & Staff. They helped shape SaludosNiños! with their efforts and we are forever thankful to them.
Dominga Eleodora Escun
Wife and mother of 9 children, Dominga enthusiastically taught for many years in Panyebar. She was a fun loving, energenic teacher who wasn't afraid to "get down" with the kids in her class so that they all could experience learning together. She embraced learning and promoted quality education for all students, including her children. She participated in many training courses, both in early childhood education, health and first aid offered through Infantiles SOS, World Vision and Heritage College.
Unfortunately, Dominga passed away unexpectedly in October 2017. She is sadly missed by SaludosNiños! and all who knew her.
Former Board Member
Jennifer Bardell, B.Ed, is a teacher with experience working in Canada, Colombia, Korea, Costa Rica, and Taiwan. She feels strongly about the importance of teaching children about their social responsibility as global citizens both on a local and an international scale. She has extensive experience fundraising both with and for children. She is currently serving on the Board of Directors for Peggy Brewin Preschool in Wakefield, Quebec. The preschool has been participating in an exchange with, and raising funds for children in rural Guatemala since 2013.
Paty Morales Perez
Former Liaison Officer
Paty attended university in Social Work. She worked for a number of years for Infantiles SOS and now with SaludosNiños! as a liaison between Sheila and Brian and the teaching staff, parents and their children. She is a child advocate, concerned for their welfare and as such a great asset to our centre. She knows the parents and their home situation through home visits, which helps the teachers meet the kids needs.
Former Board Member
Bonnie O’Neill has had a long and eventful career in philanthropy. As the founder and president of O’Neill & Asssociates, Atlanta Ga, she has worked with many hundreds of national and international nonprofit organizations. In 2006, she was recognized for her achievements and named Atlanta Woman of the Year by Atlanta WOMAN Magazine.
In 2007, she and her husband moved to Guatemala where she has volunteered with many NGO’s, including Benjamin Bloom Hospital for Children in San Salvador, Friendship Bridge and Miracles in Action. From 2009 to 2011, she led the successful campaign to build a new hospital in Santiago Atitlan, Hospitalito Atitlan.
Former Board Member
Cathy Dufour, RN, BSCN, DEd., is a professor in Nursing at Cégep Heritage College, Gatineau, Quebec and public health nurse with the Inuit Family Health Team. Specialty in Pediatric Nursing and Community & Occupational Health. She is the founder and coordinator of the International Humanitarian projects in Guatemala, 2010-present. Her passion is to improve the health and well being of the Mayan children and their families in rural Guatemala with the respect and understanding of their community delivering culturally appropriate primary health care.
Alexa first worked with the SaludosNiños! in summer of 2012 when she served as a summer Regional Director for the Rising Minds program. Along with Rising Minds interns and volunteers, she ran a summer program for SaludosNiños! kids. In addition, she facilitated health and jewelry training for the mothers at the program. These programs initiated the Panyebar Women's cooperative.