The founders created Eyes Not Forgotten with a belief that the organization could be used as a vessel for positive change, to impact lives and communities here in the United States and abroad. 

A series of organic events made this first project possible. It all began when Charles and Erik traveled to Guatemala. They felt a calling to help this beautiful, developing country, more specifically a grade school in a small town outside of Jutiapa, Guatemala. The organization was then blessed to find a partner so quickly, Olympia USA, a partner who donated over 300 backpacks. Volunteers and donors helped to raise the necessary funds to fill these backpacks with school supplies and also to cover shipping and other ancillary costs. “It was a beautiful thing to watch, people helping people…people that they didn’t even know”, says co-founder Charles White.

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The backpacks and school supplies were shipped from Los Angeles, California to Guatemala City in August, a shipment that took about four weeks. The arrangements were then made to get the items to Jutiapa, which is about two and a half hours outside the city. Erik and Charles along with Erik’s family: Luis Sr. (his cousin), Ricardo and Angel (his nephews) and Susie (his cousin) volunteered to deliver the backpacks. Susie is actually the organization’s representative in Jutiapa, and also a teacher at the grade school. 

The volunteers woke up the morning of September 14th in a small hotel in Jutiapa, Guatemala to travel to Escuela Oficial Rural Mixta Caserio Villa Hermosa. The drive to the school was not an easy one. The trip only took about an hour, but the school was in a remote location down a rocky, dirt road that at times seemed too difficult for even a car to drive on. A group of young boys were so excited about our arrival that they snuck away from the school to greet us a few hundred yards down the road.

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When we arrived at the school, about ten or so students helped unload the trucks. We were then greeted by 300 more cheering students, teachers, parents and locals, many with Eyes Not Forgotten signs. The school had arranged a day of celebration, with various performances from the students. It was an incredible site to see and experience, and it also solidified why ENF began its mission.

The results of the first project were beyond anyone’s expectations. Our vision became a reality and hope turned into action. Eyes Not Forgotten would like to thank our volunteers, donors and our partner, Olympia USA for believing in ENF’s mission. We came together to do good and to make a positive difference in the lives of others. “When you are in alignment with the desires of your heart, things have a way of working out” – Inyanla Vanzant

To put my feelings into words is incredibly difficult. I have been giving my time and talents to organizations and causes since I was a teenager, but this experience and this moment was something I had never felt before. To have a vision is one thing, to watch it fulfilled is an emotion that is indescribable. So instead of using words and expressions to try and describe my feelings, I will let the faces of Eyes Not Forgotten speak for themselves.
— Charles White
This project has a special meaning to me, for in many ways it takes me back to my childhood. I was born in Guatemala and I grew up in Jutiapa. My experiences as a child were very similar to these children who we set out to positively impact. I have always believed in doing good for others, but I could have never imagined that this passion would have lead to something like this project. The whole experience was a bit overwhelming, from receiving the welcome from children on the side of the road, to arriving to the school and seeing a community come together to share their lives and talents with us. I felt small, but at the same time I was emboldened. I will continue to fight for their future; I will continue to fight for their dreams.
— Erik Martinez