A six-person team from Larken Associates recently returned from a volunteer trip to Guatemala as a part of the Branchburg-based real estate firm’s ongoing relationship with From Houses to Homes, an organization providing sustainable housing and education to some of the country’s poorest communities. — Courtesy: Larken Associates
By Joshua Burd
Employees of Larken Associates have completed their latest volunteer trip to Guatemala as part of an ongoing effort to provide sustainable housing and education in the country.
The firm, which is based in Branchburg, said a six-member team returned earlier this month after the five-day trip, during which it constructed a home and delivered much-needed food and supplies to families. It did so alongside From Houses to Homes, a Guatemalan-based organization that Larken has supported for more than a decade, serving some of the country’s poorest communities.
The trip marked the company’s first after a hiatus forced by the pandemic.
“While we have been grateful to support From Houses to Homes over the last several years from afar, our team was happy to return to Guatemala to get down to work,” said David Gardner, CEO and president of Larken Associates. “We look forward to continuing to grow our relationship with From Houses to Homes and raise awareness of their life-changing work.”
The real estate firm said that, in a region where many families live in makeshift homes made of cornstalks or corrugated metal with dirt floors, From Houses to Homes has built more than 1,800 homes. The grassroots organization also strives to provide education to families and built the Escuela Kemna’oj, a pre-K through 9th-grade school that has a current enrollment of 175 children, most of whom have parents who were never educated and can neither read nor write.
Larken has provided the group with both financial and volunteer support, according to a news release, while Gardner has personally traveled to Guatemala 13 times to build homes in the communities. In 2019, he expanded his own mission and decided to send two volunteer teams of employees to build two homes for indigenous families in the highlands.
“In the United States, it is easy to take the idea of home for granted. Unfortunately, for far too many families in Guatemala, a safe and comfortable home is a luxury not enjoyed by many,” said Jillian Dorell, a design and construction project manager at Larken and volunteer team leader. “While this was a deeply humbling experience, we are proud of our work to help a family finally have a home.”