Welcome to The HIM News Page

Here, you’ll find stories of impact from our volunteers and staff, posts taking a deeper dive into our programs and services and more. those it serves. From child care, feeding and housing to medical, dental and eyecare HIM strives to bring aide to those in need. WE WANT TO HEAR FROM YOU! How does your life fit in with HIM's work. Let us know how we can help you become a participant through working with or giving to our many programs. Contact us at information@heartsinmotion.org

La Tierra in Motion: Raspberry Shakes Detect Earthquakes -Posted: Aug 08 2022

Long-time volunteer and supporter Steve Roche spearheaded an HIM grant proposal to the Geoscientists Without Borders to install 21 seismic sensors, fondly referred to as Raspberry Shakes, to help with the detection of earthquakes. A Raspberry Shake is a small but powerful seismograph used to monitor earthquakes and connects to the world's largest citizen science-based seismic network.

We are so excited to share this international collaborative project was awarded $80,000 from Geoscientists Without Borders over two years. An additional $32,500 was generously provided by private donors and Dr. Christine Ruhl with the University of Tulsa.

HIM, in collaboration with Ohio State University, INSIVUMEH -(the Guatemalan government institute responsible for seismology and volcanology), and the Universidad San Carlos de Guatemala, the group has coined their project La Tierra In Motion to increase the country's resiliency and response to geologic hazards.

The Ohio State University group is led by Dr. Michael Barton and PhD candidate Lindsey Hernandez. Their portion of the project is to install a broadband seismic sensor on Volcan Pacaya and to foster community education on geoscience utilizing student interns from Universidad San Carlos de Guatemala.

Currently, there are three sensors in operation at HIM's facilities in Teculutan, Pueblo Modelo, and Gualan. The two other sensors are installed at Bomberos Voluntarios stations in Los Amates and Cabanas. In addition, there are 11 sensors at INSIVUMEH, and four more sensors will be installed in August and the remainder in October this year.

La Tierra In Motion is excited to report that INSIVUMEH is using the data from the newly installed sensors in their day-to-day monitoring of seismic activity in Guatemala and Central America. During the July mission trip, a seismic event occurred with a magnitude of 4.2 in San Salvador. The La Tierra In Motion sensors provided 26% of the data to characterize the earthquake's intensity and fault slip mechanism.

Victor Heredia's Story -Posted: Jul 18 2022
One of Karen’s favorite success stories is Victor Heredia. She recalls being very tired at one point - she      had been doing volunteer work for a few years and was burnt out until she met a little boy, Victor Heredia, from Columbia who was in a horrible electrical accident that left him with no arms and a leg. 
Karen brought Victor  to the United States to regain his arms and a leg. Shortly after being in her care, Victor’s  depression disappeared. Karen saw first-hand how the work she did made a huge impact and noticeable difference in his life and that connection helped her regain her energy and realize how important her work was. This was one child no one thought would pull through.
Victor’s success does not end there. Years later, Victor received a BA in the Teaching of Foreign Languages from Universidad del Valle in 2009 and finished his postgraduate classes at ICESI University and has taught English at a public secondary school for the last 12 years in Sevilla – Valle, Colombia. 
Today, Victor is an active and positive member of his school's Bilingual Project where he has played an important role promoting English among students and colleagues, and in the "red de maestros de Inglés de Cali." He also teaches at the Colombo Americano in the adult program and is a Coach in the Kids Teens program where he provides teachers under his supervision, important training and provides guidance in their professional development           

In Victor’s own words…
I lost my two arms and my right leg at the age of nine. Then at the age of 11 I traveled to the U.S. and      I met the angel who gave me a new life. This angel is Karen Scheeringa-Parra or how I learnt to call her, Mom. In the United States I found a new family and that also included my siblings. Karen was and is a role model whose resilience taught me good things can happen to you if you never give up and never stop dreaming. Karen is a resilient warrior who day after day will continue helping others no matter what and that is why Karen, my mom, is and will always be my hero.  
Female Founders: Karen Scheeringa Parra of Hearts In Motion -Posted: Jun 23 2022
Female Founders: Karen Scheeringa-Parra of Hearts In Motion On The Five Things You Need To Thrive and Succeed as a Woman Founder
An Interview With Candice Georgiadis
Creating a legacy to pass on to the next generation — My daughter, Julie Stevens, will take over as executive director of Hearts In Motion when I retire. She will continue to ensure that the organization delivers outstanding care and services and maintains its reputation as a dependable, resourceful and compassionate nonprofit respected by a network of government agencies and service organizations.
As a part of our series about “Why We Need More Women Founders”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Karen Scheeringa-Parra. Karen is the founder and executive director of Hearts In Motion (HIM), a nonprofit focused on serving families in need, celebrating more than 30 years of service with a mission to provide care and medical treatment for children, families, and communities through its programs and sponsorship in the U.S., and Central and South America. She planted the seed of the organization that has helped empower thousands of volunteers to change the lives of hundreds of thousands of people in poverty, at a serendipitous meeting in 1982 at an airport waiting for her adopted child to come from Korea.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit more. Can you tell us a bit about your “backstory”?  What led you to this particular career path?
I was at the airport to pick up my adopted daughter, Julie, arriving from Korea and met a woman who helped sick children from around the world receive medical care. She really inspired me and I thought, ‘this is awesome, I can do that!’
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?
I was really tired at one point; I had been doing this a few years and was burnt out, but a little boy, Victor, came in from Columbia who was in an electrical accident which left him with no arms or legs. I brought him to the United States to regain his arms and legs and his depression disappeared. I saw the work I did made such a difference and that story helped me regain my energy and realize how important my work was. He graduated high school and college and now is a trilingual educator in Colombia at a French school and supports his whole family. This was a kid no one thought would pull through.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
My funniest mistakes in this work is not being able to speak Spanish and through learning it totally destroying the language. For instance, I’ve learned that a lot of words sound exactly the same. One has to be careful asking for a comb in Spanish. I was with five doctors in a mountain village and had lost my purse. Every morning I asked one of the doctors if I could borrow their comb, pronouncing it wrong, and instead asking them if I could borrow a particular part of the male anatomy. The word for this male anatomical part and the word for comb sound exactly the same to an American gringa. When I finally figured it out, I was so embarrassed but now think it is hilarious.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are?
Can you share a story about that? His name was Mario Aquino. He was an orthopedic surgeon from Guatemala who was the granddaddy and medical director of the hospital when I was in my 20s. All of the doctors were very polite to me but nobody thought I had any pull or power to make real change in Guatemala. They just saw a young woman with a big dream. Mario had a horrible accident. He fell out of a second story window, broke his neck and became paralyzed. In Guatemala, there was no help for him so I arranged for him to come live in the United States in my house for six months. I made arrangements with the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago to take him on as a charitable case and they worked with him for months so he could learn to work out of his wheelchair. He was able to operate again. We got him an operation table that was lower to the ground so he could operate in his wheelchair. Because I had helped Mario, I gained all the respect of all the doctors in Guatemala and all these doors began to open for me to do the work I do.
Ok, thank you for that. Let’s now jump to the primary focus of our interview. According to this EY report, only about 20 percent of funded companies have women founders. This reflects great historical progress, but it also shows that more work still has to be done to empower women to create companies. In your opinion and experience what is currently holding back women from founding companies?
I think it is fear of failure. We are afraid of making mistakes and afraid to try. Our mistakes are different than men’s mistakes. We are held more accountable or feel we are more accountable for our mistakes.
Can you help articulate a few things that can be done as individuals, as a society, or by the government, to help overcome those obstacles?
Things seem to be changing now. There is more equal opportunity for women in government. Seeing women rise up in government positions gives me hope that it is going the right way. I see more women now on boards, in political power, and that makes me more hopeful. Having a better work/life balance can also help bring more women to the table. Better support systems in place to let women work from home or bring their kids to work, etc. gives more opportunities for women to be leaders in business as well as a mom.
This might be intuitive to you as a woman founder but I think it will be helpful to spell this out. Can you share a few reasons why more women should become founders?
Women work with heart. There is a different sense of compassion that women bring to situations than men do and it is important to have that perspective.
What are the “myths” that you would like to dispel about being a founder? Can you explain what you mean?
One of the biggest myths is that you need huge funding to get ahead. Having the right people is more important. You need passionate people who care about the same thing you care about and it will all come together.
Is everyone cut out to be a founder? In your opinion, which specific traits increase the likelihood that a person will be a successful founder and what type of person should perhaps seek a “regular job” as an employee? Can you explain what you mean?
Founders need to be creative and visionary. Not everyone has vision. A leader has to encourage the worker bees. They need to give inspiration to others and not be afraid to fail. I never lose. I have either won or learned.
Ok super. Here is the main question of our interview. What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why? (Please share a story or example for each.)
  1. Creating a cohesive and sustainable mission from a simple idea — My idea to start Hearts In Motion began with a simple mission statement: Empowering our volunteers to positively impact the lives of people in need. We started by establishing a headquarters in the state of Zacapa, Guatemala that is home to the organization’s nutrition center, children’s home, senior center and three therapy centers. Guatemala is one of the poorest countries in Latin America. It has a population of approximately 17 million people with 59% living in poverty and 23% living in extreme poverty.
  2. Finding new ways to expand your mission — Mission trips to Guatemala were halted for the past two years due to the pandemic. Hearts In Motion pivoted to focus on local charity work and launched New Directions in March of 2021 to help individuals in the Midwest in all types of difficult situations, from house fires that have left local families homeless, to those who have left their significant other in a domestic abuse situation and want a fresh start. New Directions has partnered with 24 local nonprofits and fire departments throughout Illinois and Indiana to provide support for families in need. The program was awarded a Legacy Foundation Grant to create a charitable legacy.
  3. Getting and giving inspiration to volunteers — I personally go on more than 30 missions a year with our volunteers. Being there with them and volunteering alongside them helps build lasting memories and relationships. Trips consist of many different projects including surgery, general medical, vision, dental, and cervical screening clinics, Helping Babies Breathe/Helping Mothers Survive seminars, firefighter training, construction projects and rehabilitation services. Volunteers have the opportunity to work side by side with locals from the area they are serving. We’ve been blessed like crazy. Our volunteers are the lifeblood of our organization and their experience helps them see the impact just one person can make.
  4. The importance of gaining new experiences — Volunteers can take a short mission trip to help with any of these activities. We have an upcoming one in mid-October, 2022 that is open to everyone. You can find out how to volunteer for your own Hearts In Motion trip by visiting our website. If you can’t travel for a mission trip you can get involved by participating in one of our Sponsorship Programs. A monthly $35 donation to the School Sponsorship Program can help children attend school from daycare/preschool through 12th grade. A monthly $15 donation to the Weekly Feed Program helps approximately 150 children to be fed every week on a consistent basis.
  5. Creating a legacy to pass on to the next generation — My daughter, Julie Stevens, will take over as executive director of Hearts In Motion when I retire. She will continue to ensure that the organization delivers outstanding care and services and maintains its reputation as a dependable, resourceful and compassionate nonprofit respected by a network of government agencies and service organizations.

How have you used your success to make the world a better place?
I am the mother of 12 children, 11 of whom are adopted. I am also a foster mother and have fostered close to 400 kids over the past 30 years and participate in approximately 33 mission trips a year to Central and South America. I strive every day to make a positive difference in peoples’ lives and use any resources I can to make it happen.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good for the greatest number of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.
I started as a volunteer and the Rotary Club in my area helped me pay for the plane tickets for myself and the little girl I adopted all those years ago. I say this to show that anyone can do something, anything, to make the world a better place. All it takes is a kind heart and the desire to help others.
We are very blessed that some very prominent names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them.
If there was anyone in the world, I could have breakfast with it would be my grandmother. I want her to be proud and know the work she did for me paid off. Unfortunately, she is no longer with us.
Dolly Parton has come from great poverty to great wealth and uses her wealth to help those in poverty. She also understands how important education is and her philanthropic work focuses on poverty, education, and literacy. She is giving kids the ability to create a vision and have an outlet to imagine themselves to be something better and different. She and I have a lot in common.
Warren Buffett also comes to mind because he is very philanthropic and believes that investing in people can change lives. I believe if he understood what we are doing as an agency he would be excited about Hearts In Motion.

Thank you for these fantastic insights. We greatly appreciate the time you spent on this. 

Legacy grant aids work of New Directions program -Posted: Oct 20 2021

The Legacy Foundation
has awarded Hearts in Motion a grant to support the nonprofit's New Directions program. 
It helps Lake County individuals in difficult situations, from house fires that have left families homeless to those who have left their significant others in a domestic situation and want a fresh start.
New Directions was created to provide entire home set-ups to families in need. This effort delivers all the essential items, like furniture, housewares, bedding and towels, needed to help get them back on their feet and thrive.
The Legacy Foundation's $19,500 grant will allow Hearts in Motion to provide that service. 
"We are thrilled to use this grant to aid programs and services that are more critical then ever for those who face significant challenges in our community," said Karen Scheeringa-Parra, founder and Executive Director of Hearts in Motion.  "It's so rewarding to see the faces of families who walk into a furnished home and know you are helping change their lives for the better." 
New Directions has a partnership with 24 local nonprofits and fire departments in Northwest Indiana to provide support to families in need. Through donations from Hearts in Motion thrift store, the organization is able to put together an entire house of furniture and household goods. 
After a new home is located, New Directions provides a full house drop, including beds, dressers, bathroom essentials, shower curtains, kitchen items, paintings on the wall and volunteers to decorate the room.
Kelly Anoe, vice president of Legacy Foundation said their group has been aware of Hearts in Motion for the past few years and found their collaboration with St. Jude House and other nonprofits in Lake County to be quite impressive. "Working together, they are enhancing residents' quality of life," Anoe said. 
Kori Polusky, case manager at St. Jude House in Crown Point, said having shelter, clean clothes and a place to call home is important for families, "especially those that have dealt with hardship. We don't have the space to store furniture and other household needs that New Directions can. 
"Our partnership has already helped more than a dozen families, including a veteran, furnish their homes, and we are currently helping three more right now." 
The program is in need of donations of furniture, household goods, clothing and other common items. Donations must be cleaned, bagged or boxed. Appointments are needed to schedule a drop-off or pickup of donated items by contacting 219-942-2446. Face masks are required for drop off or pickup.
To donate or to learn more,
visit https://www.heartsinmotion.org and Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. 
From New Chicago to Lebanon and beyond, Hearts in Motion fills needs -Posted: Oct 17 2021

- Jacob Cross Times correspondent 

When the holidays arrive, one might wonder how they can bring positive change to their community, let alone the world. 
The story of one empowered organization headquartered in Schererville proves a major contribution can start by helping one person. 
“It was nothing incredible. It was totally by accident. … We’ve been blessed like crazy,” said Karen Scheeringa-Parra, executive director and founder of Hearts in Motion, a humanitarian aid organization serving the Region and beyond. 
When Scheeringa-Parra adopted a young girl from Korea in 1982, she met a woman who helped sick children from around the world receive needed medical care. 
“She really inspired me. I thought, ‘That was awesome. ... I can do that,’ Scheeringa-Parra said. 
She began her own efforts to help children with a girl in Guatemala whom she brought to the U.S. for surgery to repair a bilateral cleft lip and palate. 
“I was just doing this as a volunteer, and the Rotary (Club) here in the area helped me pay for the tickets for myself and the little girl,” she said. 
Later, she found herself taking medical teams to countries in need. By 1990, she founded Hearts in Motion, later achieving nonprofit status. 
“Now I’m doing 33 trips a year to different countries, primarily Central and South America,” she said. 
Local focus 
In the same way that the Rotary Club helped her reach the Guatemalan girl, Scheeringa-Parra works with other local agencies and nonprofits to carry out the Hearts in Motion mission.

“My biggest satisfaction I think is the relationships that I have in the community and people that are doing good things for other people,” she said. “I know a ton of people that want to help, and they all have a specialty.” 
Hearts in Motion is helping families in Lebanon after a bombing devastated the capital of Beirut in August. Hearts in Motion sent a container of furniture, food and clothes in cooperation with local thrift stores. 
Indianapolis-based Pack Away Hunger, donated 20,000 meals to the Lebanon relief efforts. 
Hearts in Motion touches lives around the world, but also in its own backyard. 
Bill Timmer, chief of the Highland Fire Department, contacted Scheeringa-Parra after a family from New Chicago lost everything in a trailer fire. 
As part of its New Directions program,  Hearts in Motion furnished the home the family moved to, even finding volunteers to install furniture and other items. 
New Directions links Hearts in Motion to 25 other agencies across Northwest Indiana, including shelters for women and the homeless and fire departments. 
Agency representatives bring clients to the Hearts in Motion thrift store at 2210 U.S. Hwy. 41 in Schereville to pick out what they need at no cost. 
New Directions 
Senior centers will also be receiving gifts this holiday season. Men’s and women’s socks, reading glasses, tea cups, small throw blankets and anything useful in a nursing home would be welcomed, Scheeringa-Parra said. 
Donors are invited to bring these items, as well as toys for kids from birth to 17, to the Hearts in Motion thrift store. 
“It’s great. A lot of donations are coming in. We just have to keep the word going that we are still here, that we’re alive, and we still need your help,” said Deputy Director Julie Stevens. 
Full circle 
Stevens has a unique place at Hearts in Motion. She is the girl Scheeringa-Parra adopted from Korea from 1982. Now deputy director, Scheeringa-Parra said Stevens is in position to run the organization. 
“(Julie) was my inspiration,” Scheeringa-Parra said, adding that her 11 other children also have a part to play with Hearts in Motion. 
“It’s going to be some big footsteps to follow in. She is a visionary, and she has made this organization just grow so tremendously,” Stevens said of her mother. 
Stevens said for her, her sisters and brothers, growing up with Hearts in Motion was the norm, making it hard to imagine doing anything else. 
“It was a big adventure and a lot of fun,” Stevens said. 
Stevens oversees many humanitarian programs, particularly international programs in Guatemala, where Hearts in Motion operates five schools as well as a 17-acre campus with an orphanage and nutrition center. 
Stevens said weekly feeding initiatives are planned this holiday season at the nutrition center, where families can receive food baskets. This is part of Hearts in Motion 's effort to ensure sponsored children get food on the table this holiday season. 
Children also will receive Christmas gifts from U.S. donors and sponsors as usual, Stevens said. 
Sponsorships, available online at www.heartsinmotion.org/him-Sponsorship Programs-220.htm — provide a sponsored child an education, meals and/or health care. 
Stevens said purchasing a sponsorship makes a great gift for the holidays for that someone who has everything.  
“I’m excited for where it’s going and what I can do to help make it grow and just continue for many years,” Stevens said. 

To help or for more information, visit www.heartsinmotion.org. 

Schererville nonprofit aid Guatemala Firefighters -Posted: May 24 2021
SCHERERVILLE — A total of $500,000 worth of firefighter equipment is on its way to Guatemala after a Schererville organization coordinated donations among several Indiana fire departments. 
Karen Scheeringa-Parra, founder of Hearts In Motion, said she gets donations from Northwest Indiana agencies and from some as far as California. Parra said her passion for aiding first responders in Central America began 22 years ago when she happened upon a horrific fatal car crash while on a missionary trip in Guatemala.
"There were eight people pinned underneath a semi and there were these firefighters who were trying to rescue the people but they had no equipment," Parra said. "It was in the middle of the night and they were going to have to come back in the day, but by that time, all of those people would be dead. So the group I was in recruited a few hundred people who were around the crash and we worked to unload the semi so it could be lifted off the car. Three of the eight people were saved. That was my turning point, when I saw this tremendous need."

After that experience, she began the Fire Service International Program initiative for Hearts in Motion. She said fire departments have donated air tanks, turn-out gear, firetrucks, ambulances and more that have been put in the hands of Guatemalan first responders. 
Parra started Hearts in Motion, headquartered at 2210 U.S. 41 in Schererville, in 1982 which offers a number of services and resources to local residents and Central and South American communities in need. 
"Since 1999 we have sent more than $20 million of firefighter equipment to Guatemala," she said. 
On May 6 the $500,000 worth of equipment was loaded up with the help of Schererville firefighters to be sent to Guatemala. Special guest Giovanni Cordon, El Comandante, visited Schererville from Guatemala. El Comandante is a title for the top fire official in Guatemala.
"One big thing we have gotten is the Jaws of Life," Parra said. "When I started this, the country only had two Jaws of Life. Now there are hundreds. Another big thing they need is boots. They go through a lot of boots because they work with volcanoes and the heat melts their boots. ... When they get a delivery, it's like a bunch of kids at Christmas. Some of them may never have had a helmet before."
Jaws of Life is a tool used to pry open a vehicle to free trapped victims, which is a critical tool for a country in which vehicle crashes is among the top 10 causes of death due to its narrow roadways. Parra said paired with a shortage of firefighter and medical equipment, getting into a car crash can easily be a death sentence. 
"For almost every fire station in the U.S., the city budget is bigger than the entire budget for firefighters in the country of Guatemala," Parra said. "Like in Highland how they get a couple million dollars of funding, that's more than all of Guatemala gets."
She said Hearts in Motion receives several thank you cards, letters and calls from first responders, thanking the organization and informing her of the lives saved due to the equipment. 
In addition, Hearts in Motion also coordinates with American fire departments to train first responders in Guatemala — something Parra said has been a huge success in improving public safety and the safety of the firefighters. 
"There was a child who had fallen into a pit and had been trapped for three days and the local department had been working for days to get them out," Parra said. "They ended up calling another station that we had trained with on rescuing in confined spaces and they were able to rescue the child within 45 minutes, which is just an example of the impact training has."
Hearts in Motion has a total of 14 programs, including an orphanage, nutrition center, music education program, medical services program and house building projects in Guatemala. In addition, the organization serves other Central and South American communities like Ecuador. Another program called New Directions helps local people who have lost their belongings in fires and other circumstances to refurbish their homes.
Parra said the program has also expanded to providing counseling and therapy to first responders when she saw the need for a focus on mental and emotional health following traumatic events. 
"A couple of years ago there was a fire at an orphanage where 50 to 60 girl burned to death," Parra said. "How do you begin to deal with that? When this horrible tragedy happens and you don't have the ability or the equipment to stop it?"
To help aid their mission, Hearts in Motion has a resale shop at 2210 U.S. 41 in Schererville. Parra said volunteers and donations are always needed and anyone who is interested in helping the organization can call 219-924-2446 or email information@heartsinmotion.org. 

Gown donation is helping Hearts in Motion Charity -Posted: Mar 18 2021
Grace Jania, left Karen Jania and Allie Holleman go through and try on prom dresses. Hearts in Motion, is a nonprofit organization, with a mission to empower volunteers to positively impact the lives of people in need. A fundraising for the organization is going on at the Dunhill Formal Wear in Merrillville. Grace Jania and Allie Holleman spent Saturday trying on dresses at Dunhill Formal Wear in Merrillville for the Illiana Christian High School prom. Shopping for the event was a little bit of normal after a year where most school functions were canceled due to the pandemic caused by COVID-19.

Karen Scheeringa-Parra, Executive Director of Hearts in Motion, left, helps Grace Jania, 16, right, go thorough prom dresses at Dunhill Formal Wear in Merrillville, In. Thousands of donated brand new prom and wedding dresses are on sale for as little as $50. “It’s really exciting. We didn’t get to have a whole lot of dances last year,” Jania, of St. John, said.  The pair were busy browsing through the hundreds of dresses at the store trying to find one that looked and it just right. “It’s awesome It’s good to be trying something on,” Holleman, of Beecher, Illinois, said.

There were plenty of gowns to choose from at the sale benefiting Hearts in Motion, a Schererville-based nonprofit. Karen Scheeringa-Parra, the organization’s founder, said they recently received a donation of 3,000 prom dresses, quinceanera gowns, mother-of-the-bride dresses and wedding gowns they will be selling with all proceeds going directly to HIM. All of the gowns are new or samples.

Angelo Liakos, right, peeks around a large assortment of wedding dresses as his mom Lisa Gover picks through them. Dan Zandstra, who owns Dunhill, opened the shop to Hearts in Motion to facilitate the sale, she said. The sale continues daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. through Saturday. She described the event as a community effort. Her niece, Laura Scheeringa from Lowell, Michigan, was modeling different dresses to passing motorists on Broadway in front of the store. “I’m hoping to try and help bring people in,” Scheeringa said.

Courtney Fox, right, of DeMotte, gets the opinion of mom, Kristi Fox, left, and boyfriend Alex Dimeglio as she tries on dresses. Scheeringa-Parra said the dresses are all being sold at $50 each regardless of the original price and the wedding gowns are selling at $100. The donation came from a friend who decided to close her Orland Park, Illinois-based bridal shop with the intention of benefiting the charity. “She has been to Guatemala and loved, loved, loved what we do and decided she wanted to help,” Scheeringa-Parra said. Hearts in Motion operates an orphanage in Guatemala, where it also brings medical care and surgical treatment to the country’s youngsters who otherwise would not have access to the care needed. It also provides a variety of community service efforts in Northwest Indiana.

Since many proms have again been canceled, she said some people are hosting parent parties for their teens. Offering the gowns as such a deeply discounted price benefits the charity but also helps the teen who have been impacted by the pandemic and are looking for a release.

Allie Holleman, left, gets some help from Karen Jania, right, as she tries on a prom dress. A handful of brides have also made their way through the business to look for a gown. Scheeringa-Parra said one such bride came in alone as her mother had died. She and the HIM volunteers were able to share the day with the woman and help it be a more fun experience. Clients from TradeWinds were the sale’s first customers. Scheeringa-Parra said before the sale was opened to the public, dozens of special needs clients were able to shop for a dress to their annual dance at no charge. “We ended up fitting all of the girls for free,” she said.

Along with its mission work in Guatemala, Hearts in Motion also works with Northwest Indiana homeless and women’s shelters through HIM’s Schererville resale shop. Women who escape abusive situations with just the clothes on their backs are given vouchers for the resale shop where they can get clothes and things they need for free. Scheeringa-Parra said the organization also helps people transitioning from homeless shelters to a permanent residence by supplying everything they need to get started, such as furniture and kitchen supplies. HIM is always seeking donations of furniture to help with the effort, she said.

“We totally live by donations,” Scheeringa-Parra said. Funds raised through the dress sale will assist with all of Hearts In Motion’s outreach efforts. “Every dress here may be putting a child through school.” The dresses also will help the residents of the orphanage, who must have a job when they turn 18. Scheeringa-Parra said they will be shipping some of the quinceanera gowns will be shipped to the orphanage, where they plan to create a store where the dresses are rented to local girls. Most girls in Guatemala rent gowns for their quinceaneras because they cannot afford to purchase it. The girls from the orphanage will be able to work in the store to learn skills and meet the requirement.

Friends Norma Arauz and Lisa Govea, both of Valparaiso, were browsing the racks of dresses. Arauz was looking for a bridesmaid dress, Govea was looking for fun and to provide moral support. The price was right, but more importantly, buying dress is a way to help out. “This is such a great opportunity,” Govea said. Carrie Napoleon is a freelance reporter for the Post-Tribune.

Washington State Magazine Fall 2019 -Posted: Sep 02 2019
by Latisha Jensen ’19
JJoselín Hicho received the call the night of March 12. Her 21-month-old son, César Vicente, had been added to the next day’s schedule for volunteer surgeons to operate on his cleft lip. The next morning, they hopped on the 5:00 a.m. bus from their town of San Sebastian for the two-hour journey to a private hospital in Zacapa, Guatemala. The humanitarian organization Hearts in Motion (HIM) has
 been sending surgeons to perform life-changing surgeries on Guatemalans for about 35 years. Cleft lip and palate, which can lead to malnutrition, are common operations in the area. Hicho says she’s happy her child will have una vida normal, a normal life. Volunteer doctors, nurses, and other medical professionals perform cleft palate repair and other surgeries. (Photo Matt Winchell) Lars Neuenschwander, one of 35 Washington State University students on this year’s spring break volunteer trip with HIM, witnessed surgeries such as Vicente’s, and his dream to provide free medical services to less fortunate individuals around the world solidified into a concrete goal. “I had realized that I spent a lot of time engineering things that help people, but never really got an opportunity to work with those people,” says Neuenschwander, who just graduated with bachelor’s degrees in bioengineering and Spanish. “[Hearts in Motion] was the perfect combination.” For 12 years, students, primarily health sciences and Spanish majors, have traveled to Guatemala with HIM offering assistance to dentists, surgeons, and other specialists. They were assigned a new duty each day, such as checking people in, measuring height and weight, or drawing blood. They also tested people for anemia and diabetes, assisted in tooth extractions, distributed and gave instructions on pain pills, helped with speech and physical therapy, and constructed homes. The students all had varying levels of Spanish skills, and Neuenschwander says being a “runner” to direct people at the clinics required the most diverse set of Spanish words.
If patients had anemia or diabetes, runners would explain that, if diabetic, they needed to drink less soda and eat fewer sugary foods. If anemic, runners would send them to Ana María Rodriguez-Vivaldi, associate professor of Spanish, who would give detailed advice.

“There is nothing I can compare to being thrust into a situation where everybody around you speaks no English, and you have to communicate really refined instructions about their health,” Neuenschwander says.

Students also visited the nearby nutrition center for malnourished children, orphanage, and senior center built by the HIM program.
The seniors come in on Wednesdays, and the orphanage children serve them meals, says HIM founder Karen Scheeringa-Parra. What makes the program unique is that anyone at any age or ability can help change others’ lives, she says.
“This [program] is so broad that you can bring your grandma down and she can rock babies in the nutrition center while we go do surgery.” Scheeringa-Parra always had a heart for helping others and went to school to be a social worker. Her journey to creating this nonprofit was not a smooth one.
After suffering a fifth miscarriage, she adopted a little girl from South Korea. She had no idea how this would lead her to help hundreds of other children and eleven adopted children of her own. Eventually, she was able to conceive one child. While in South Korea, she met a woman who was adopting six children with heart defects. She was doing this because the child she adopted a year prior had died due to a lack of timely medical attention. “I was so impressed when I met her. She had turned her pain into something really incredible,” Scheeringa-Parra says.
Inspired, she brought home a little girl from Guatemala in 1983 to operate on her bilateral cleft palate. The next year, she brought 27 more children. In 1990, HIM started sending university students as volunteers to make a larger impact. The program has been in Zacapa, the area with the most need, for 24 years. WSU junior Auni Edwards arrived in Zacapa as a biology major and, after interacting with Guatemalans, left with the realization that she wants to become a physician’s assistant to have more direct personal contact with patients. It was Edwards’s first study abroad experience, and she says she was shocked by how kind and grateful everyone was. “They have so little but they are still just as happy, if not happier, overall,”
Edwards says. “We were literally pulling teeth with just topical, and they were awake. They got up out of their chairs and hugged and thanked us.” Edwards traveled to Ecuador in July to test anemia rates with Kathy Beerman, professor in the School of Biological Sciences. Beerman recognized that Guatemalans might have iron deficiency because of their high-starch diets when she first started going on the trip seven years ago.
The group rode buses on dirt roads in the sweltering heat to a new village each day, set up the clinic, and spent the day offering their services, including anemia testing. About 100 people were tested in each village. This year, the average anemia rates ranged from 20 to 25 percent, up to 35 percent.
When patients test positive for anemia, they are given the Lucky Iron Fish, a fish-shaped iron piece activated in boiling water and then cooked in meals such as rice to enrich the food with iron. It lasts five years for an entire family.
HIM has retested patients in later years to see the impact, and Guatemalans have reported feeling more energetic and having an increased ability to do activities such as walking their children to school.
HIM already offers a few services in Ecuador but founder Scheeringa-Parra wants to expand even more. Beerman’s goal is to start a second HIM program in Ecuador in May 2020, if there’s enough medical need.
Edwards says the HIM excursion gives students a cultural experience they couldn’t fully grasp sitting in a classroom, and Neuenschwander agrees.
“We complain about things like not having Wi-Fi,” Neuenschwander says. “But when you compare them to the things other people in the world live with—that really provides you with perspective of how privileged you actually are.”

Loyal Native Sets "Hearts In Motion" -Posted: Nov 14 2018
Medical care is crucial for any part of the world, but not all have easy access to it. 
Jordyn Pieper of Loyal, currently a Physician Assistant student at Carroll University in Waukesha, took part in a medical mission trip to Guatemala for five days this October through Hearts in Motion, a non-profit that strives to change the lives of those living in poverty. The mission group of about 45 people was able to provide medical care to over 1,000 in the mountain villages near the city of Zacapa. 
“My role during the mission trip was to be a medical provider at the pop-up clinics that we would set up each day, despite only being a student,” Pieper said. “I handed out medications, played with the children, and talked with the citizens of the villages we visited. 

We also had general and orthopedic surgeons from the States come down and perform surgery for free.  People walked hours and stood in long lines to receive vitamins, Ibuprofen, and various other medications that we are blessed enough to get from stores in America.”  

One group headed to surgery, another to the village clinics or construction sites. Those with non-medical backgrounds passed out donated toys, shoes, diapers, helped out at the clinics, and completed construction work. 
Despite their poverty, the people Pieper worked with were happier and more generous than one might expect. 
“It was so uplifting to see how positive the people of Guatemala are despite the circumstances,” Pieper said. “The love and respect they have for each other and others is very refreshing to see. They believe in giving so much to others even when they don’t have much for themselves.” 
A memorable part of the trip was being able to help a extremely malnourished woman at the HIM nutrition center and see her good progress a few days later. Another was providing food and shelter to 75 Honduran refugees in the Hearts in Motion house, and hearing their often gut-wrenching stories. Pieper saw Guatemalans set up stations to provide food and water to the refugees, despite not having much themselves, since they knew others needed it more. 
Many make a living rummaging through garbage at the Zacapa dump and collecting recyclables that can be resold in the city. 
“When we went to the dump, we handed out sandwiches and rice milk to the children. As we arrived, the bus driver honked his horn, and we could see the children running to the main building because they were excited to get their share of the food. We saw many children walking around the dump trying to find useful garbage that they could sell for their families,” Pieper said. 
Small fires burn worthless garbage to make room for the new. Each family is assigned a section of the dumpster to limit violence and share equally. “It was heartbreaking to see the conditions that people live in day in and day out,” she noted. 
The mission trip overall was an eye-opening experience. “It did not disappoint, and I left Guatemala thankful for all the things I have,” she said. “Personally, I felt like I truly made a difference in people’s lives.” 
The group provided 30 pills of Ibuprofen, vitamins, and other medications to each patient toward their symptoms. To assist with the ongoing need for supplies, Pieper is hoping to collect enough to give people more than a month’s worth of medications. Donations can be dropped off at the City Hall in Loyal. See below for a list. 
“I can promise you that your donations will go directly to the people in need,” Pieper said. “I have seen firsthand that the donations that have been collected are being used for the good of the people in providing homes, food, and medical supplies.” 
She plans to return to Guatemala next October with as many donations as she can bring, and depending on response may send some supplies down with another group taking the trip in July.
For more info on how to help, go to HeartsInMotion.org or email Pieper at jpieper@pio.carrollu.edu.

Firefighters unite -Posted: Mar 16 2005
Firefighters unite
Bill Timmer,  chief of the Highland Fire Department, touts Hearts in Motion for its dedication, saying that Executive Director Karen Scheeringa-Parra knows how to work with her community to make her goals a reality.
Over the years, Hearts in Motion has brought together the Highland Fire Department and Guatemalan firefighters as part of its ongoing mission to meet multiple humanitarian needs.
Through its partnership with Hearts in Motion, the Highland Fire Department has sent firefighters to Guatemala to help build a fire station and to train Guatemalan firefighters in fire suppression, CPR and rescue techniques.
Some Guatemalans also have come to Northwest Indiana, training alongside local firefighters to bring lifesaving techniques back to Guatemala.

The Highland Fire Department also sends equipment to Guatemala,  ranging from hoses to a 1972 firetruck.
While these items are no longer OSHA compliant because of time limits set by the National Fire Protection Association, the Guatemalan communities are ready to put this equipment to use, Timmer said.
Timmer said they also assist the Guatemalan fire officials with fundraising so they can buy new equipment. He calls the collaboration heartwarming. He also said one can see the fruits of Scheeringa-Parra’s labor through Hearts in Motion. “She’s kind of the heart of Hearts in Motion, and she is a pretty smart lady let me tell you,” Timmer said. “She has surrounded herself with a tremendous staff that are all really good people.”  



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