For years, Erica and Stephanie had heard tales of Tamara Hillstrom, a family friend of the Engle's who happens to have adopted three Guatemalan children of her own, and her efforts to help the orphaned children of Gautemala. Tired of sitting idly, Erica and Stephanie decided to help Tamaras plight to establish an orphanage by founding their own nonprofit. Thus, RAISE was born.
April 2011 marked the inception of Tamara's "For the Love of Patricia" orphanage, named in honor of her late mother, Patricia, who dedicated her life to helping people. Shortly after the orphanage opened its doors, Erica and Stephanie boarded a plane to San Lucas, Sacatepequez, Guatemala to visit the incoming orphans. Upon arriving, the girls were whisked to not only the orphanage, but also Antigua and Guatemala City to visit dancers and inhabitants of a city dump.
Erica and Stephanie had entered a world unlike anything they had previously been exposed to. The streets were ridden with the hungry and homeless--the girls even saw the carcass of a man who had been stabbed to death just lying on the sidewalk. In the dump, the girls met a myriad of characters including an 83 year old woman who had lived in the dump her entire life (affectionately know as "The Grandmother"), and a man who, due to being shot four times in the abdomen, had tried to commit suicide just days prior to the girls' visit. Possibly the most touching of all, however, were the children; these kids were so vibrant, so innocent, so kind despite their unfortunate situation. Their mettle was both heartwarming and also stirring--it was emotional to see happiness exist amongst such poverty and tragedy.
RAISE is here to help those people. RAISE is an established 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to benefitting the children of the For the Love of Patricia orphanage in Sacatepequez, Guatemala and other groups located in Guatemala. For more information regarding RAISE, please refer to the form located on the Contact page.
From left to right: Stephanie Engle, five native Guatemalan schoolchildren who dance to fund their education, and Erica Engle; taken April 2011 in Antigua, Guatemala
CO-FOUNDER, VICE PRESIDENT
Stephanie is a 17 year old senior in high school who resides in the bay area of California. She is the creative force behind RAISE, as she designed the RAISE's website and photo book from scratch and captured every image on the site and in the photo book. When not volunteering her time to RAISE, Stephanie runs a flourishing photography business, volunteers at the Ronald McDonald House, and competes in equestrian competitions. Her photography portfolio can be viewed here.
As Stephanie's twin sister, Erica is also a 17 year old senior in high school who resides in the bay area of California. Erica oversees the business aspects of RAISE. Her job includes managing the donations accumulated by RAISE and acquiring RAISE's nonprofit status as well as an ISBn number for the photo book. In her spare time, Erica enjoys playing lacrosse, working at a candy store, volunteering at the Ronald McDonald House, and riding horses.
ALL PHOTOS COPYRIGHT STEPHANIE ENGLE