Our Mission

El Hogar provides a quality education and a safe and nurturing home to children living in impoverished conditions in Honduras. Our goal is to break the cycle of poverty so that our students can fulfill their potential as productive and independent Honduran citizens.

Our Origins

It started in 1979 with five young boys living on the streets of Tegucigalpa, Honduras. Five members of the local Episcopal Church wanted to do something about child homelessness in the capital city. They rented a house, took in those five boys and nurtured and cared for them. With that, El Hogar de Amor y Esperanza was born.

In the years since, nearly 1,000 students have graduated from El Hogar, which has grown to include three campuses: an elementary school, a Technical Institute,
and an Agricultural School.


About Honduras

Honduras is in the heart of Central America. It is a mountainous country with both an Atlantic and Pacific coast. With a population of approximately 9 million people, and the geographical area of equivalent of Virginia or Newfoundland, Honduras is rich in natural resources and diverse global exports. Honduras is a beautiful country but not without its challenges.


Our Programs

Since 1979, El Hogar has been supporting children from vulnerable situations in Honduras.  We help these students and their families break the cycle of poverty and unemployment by providing a home, a nurturing environment, an education and a marketable trade.  We support over 200 students each year in several programs in Honduras which include:

Hogar de
Amor y Esperanza

The Home of Love and Hope
Grades 1 – 6

HAYE is an alternative care and educational center located in the capital city of Tegucigalpa.  Reinforcing the Family First model promoted by DINAF, the Honduran Child Protection Agency, HAYE also offers a day program where children in the community can attend school during the day and return home to their families in the evening.  Both residential and day students receive academic classes during the day and participate in enriching extracurricular activities in the afternoon.

Instituto Técnico Santa María (ITSM)

St. Mary’s Technical Institute
Grades 7 – 12

ITSM is a boarding school located in the Amarateca Valley, approximately 25 kms northwest of Tegucigalpa.  Students from HAYE will continue their studies at ITSM, along with youth from all over Honduras.  Students receive vocational training in carpentry, welding and electricity, as well as a traditional academic curriculum.  In 2018 our program expanded to offer co-educational classes to boys and girls in all academic and technical areas.  Students graduate from ITSM with a diploma in electricity.  We are working to expand the curriculum at ITSM in order to better prepare our students to meet the challenges they will face upon graduation.  

La Finca de
Amor y Esperanza

Our farm in Talanga is about 60 kms northeast of Tegucigalpa and operates year-round for production, helping to supplement food needs at our other centers.  Dairy production is our strength, and we produce between 200-300 litres of milk daily.  Along with supplementing the needs at our centers, we also sell to the local market.  We are exploring ways to increase and diversify production at the farm to increase profits, and plan to run entrepreneurial programs here in the future.

El Hogar Dental Clinic

Located on the campus of Hogar de Amor y Esperanza, El Hogar runs a dental clinic that provides free preventive and restorative dental care to all the students enrolled in El Hogar Projects, a primary care service often inaccessible through the public system.  The primary goal of El Hogar’s dental clinic is to ensure that our students develop a long-lasting, healthy smile that will improve their overall health. During the school year, El Hogar performs more than 150 dental cleanings, monthly dental hygiene education, fluoride treatments and fillings and extractions when necessary.   Since 2015 El Hogar has partnered with Advent Health Sharing Smiles to support the year-round functioning of our dental clinic.

Discover a place
where hope has a home

Honduras: Vibrant and Challenging

Denise Vargas, Executive Director in Honduras reflects on the culture and context of our home.

Whenever I say I´m from Honduras, I tend to lean forward as if to speak its name with my whole body:  so much to cradle in a single word.  If only I could say, I´m from a land that soars and plunges in every shade of blue, like our mountains into shores.  Blue like the endless morning skies that glide gently over jagged rooftops.  Indigo like the small-town bridges that bow over dried-up rivers.  Teal like our untold stories.  Every part of us and every corner of this country, from the bold pink bougainvilleas to the deep green of our pine trees, every single thing of beauty here carries a hint of violet from a mother´s tears or an old man´s struggle.  It´s what makes our country real and magical, fierce and generous, impossible to define, but infinite to experience. 

Honduras is a remarkably diverse land of raw beauty and ageless mystery.  Within a few kilometers one can travel centuries: climb the wooden steps of Comayagua´s cathedral and sync your heart to the oldest working clock in the world, or dive into one of the Mayan tunnels to feel your pulse race as you near the Sepulturas.  From the height of rainforests to the depths of coral reefs, Honduras is a box within a box of contrasts.  A country bursting with vibrant, colorful traditions, kept alive in legends, poems and songs.  A place to experience simple pleasures: stopping by the side of the road to taste freshly made tortillas and cuajada is a hammock for the soul.  A land where adventures lure everywhere, in unexplored caves, ruffled waters, or simply in a casual stroll along the city markets where there´s no limit to what one can encounter. 

The same contrasts reside in our people.  Anyone visiting our country will be drawn to our campechano personalities: in general, Hondurans are welcoming, opinionated, ingenious and kind.  We boast hundreds of unique expressions and peculiar gestures that make any Honduran recognizable to another without speaking a word.  But we are also formidably complicated: we house corruption, hopelessness, indifference, intolerance and severe injustice.  Over 60% of Hondurans live and die in poverty, without adequate access to basic services such as education or healthcare.  Our institutions are weak, our political views grow increasingly polarized with the majority of our citizens lacking opportunities, and hope.

El Hogar embraces the beauty of our country´s reality, while remaining deeply aware of its challenges.  Our goal is to provide quality residential and educational services for impoverished youth so that they can lead their lives with the hope of a better future.  We believe that human potential is unlimited, and our mission is to empower local children and staff and provide the necessary ground for their best selves to blossom.   Deep inside, Honduras is simply a unique combination of beautiful extremes, concentrated in a noble country with a heavy name that we honor as our collective identity.

Meet Our Team

Our centers in Honduras are run by a dedicated staff of over 60 administrators, counsellors and teachers who work closely with our students to give them a rich education and a sense of pride in themselves and caring for others. 

Our Honduran leadership has many years of experience guiding our programs in order to fulfill our mission.

Denise Vargas

Executive Director of El Hogar Projects Honduras

Norma Coello

Sub-Director of the
Technical Institute

Claudia Castro

Director of El Hogar de Amor y Esperanza

Yony Aguilera

Director of the Agricultural School

Erika Skafel

Communications and International Relations

Tim Monroe

Executive Director of
El Hogar Ministries
in North America

The Right Rev. Lloyd Allen

Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Honduras

El Hogar is a mission of the Episcopal Diocese of Honduras.

Candy Beckwith  

Administrative Assistant/Donations Coordinator of El Hogar Ministries in North America  

Our Board

The Rt. Rev. Lloyd Allen
Ex-Officio Board Member

Lloyd Allen is the Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Honduras. Prior to serving as Bishop, Rev. Allen was the rector of St. Mary’s Episcopal Church in Tegucigalpa, Honduras.

The Rt. Rev. Robert J. O’Neill
President Emeritus

Rob served as the Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Colorado until his retirement in 2019. He is a graduate of Texas Christian University and Berkeley Divinity School at Yale. He was ordained to the priesthood of the Episcopal Church in 1982 at Saint John’s Cathedral in Denver where he served for ten years, first as Canon Educator and then as acting Dean of the Cathedral. In 1991, he became the rector of The Parish of the Epiphany in Winchester, MA, where he served until 2002 when he became Bishop.

Kristin Mullin
Board Member

Kris joined the board in 2017 after having led several youth and adult trips to El Hogar beginning in 2007. She is a graduate of Miami University (OH) and has a degree in Accounting. She has worked in both public and private accounting, and is currently consulting as a Family Office manager/accountant. She is an active volunteer at her church, St. Timothy’s Episcopal Church, as well as serving in various capacities for other community organizations. She and her husband, Steve, live in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Tethey Martínez de Murillo
Board Member

Tethey joined the board in 2021, having learned about El Hogar through her affiliation with the Central American Leadership Initiative (CALI). A resident of Tegucigalpa, she is the CEO of Ficohsa Seguros, the leading insurance company in Honduras. In addition to her professional business and finance credentials, Tethey also has nonprofit experience, having served on the boards of Fundación CALI Honduras, Asociación Fulbright Honduras, and Vital Voices Honduras. She has completed both her undergraduate and graduate studies in the US, and holds an MBA from Texas Christian University in Fort Worth, TX.

Ann Grace
Board Member

Ann joined the board in 2021.

Elizabeth Thornton
Board Member

Elizabeth joined the board in the fall of 2021.  She retired two years ago from a long career in libraries – the last quarter century at Sandy Spring Friends School, a Quaker pk3-12th grade school.  She lives on a sheep farm with her husband in Maryland and enjoys hiking, kayaking, gardening, music and reading.  Among her passions are kids, storytelling and education, and she looks forward to being of service to El Hogar.  She has two grown daughters – a paediatric occupational therapist in San Francisco and a nurse midwife in Alaska.

Denise Sharp

Denise joined the board in 2018. She has volunteered with El Hogar for many years, with multiple visits to El Hogar with Service Teams, primarily to the agricultural school. She lives in Maryland on a multi-generation farm, where she and her family farm. She has found her passion in outreach and service in the area of agriculture and education. Denise is an active member of the parish of St Andrew’s Glenwood, MD.

Denise Chew

Denise joined the board in 2020.  She is a scientist by training and artist at heart and has extended her disciplined methodology of creative problem solving into the fields of enterprise management, managerial accounting, and finance.  In her profession she is passionate about the development of entrepreneurs and entrepreneurial businesses and seeks to facilitate growth.  She holds an MBA from the F.W. Olin Graduate School of Business at Babson College, an MS in Applied Physics from NJIT/Rutgers and a BS in Physics from Eastern Nazarene College.   In her personal life she is passionate about service, community, and the development/restoration of economic sustainability for marginalized persons – specifically disadvantaged kids and the homeless. Denise is an active member of All Saints Parish in Brookline, MA. 

David Hennessy
Board Member

Dave joined the board in 2019. He is a Senior Vice President with Keystone Partners and consults on employee transitions/outplacement and advises organizations on robust leadership development and executive coaching programs. A member of NEHRA’s Board of Directors, Dave also serves on the Board of Commissioners for the Reading Municipal Light Department, a municipal utility serving 29,000 customers in four towns north of Boston. He holds an MBA from Boston University’s Questrom School of Business and a BS in Mathematics and Philosophy from the University of Massachusetts Amherst. He and his wife, Amy, a former El Hogar volunteer, reside in Reading, MA, with their teenage son.

Peter Cross
Board Member

Peter joined the board in 2020. Peter has more than 40 years of experience in health and education development in some of the world’s poorest nations, including Honduras. His work has focused on increasing access to services, promoting program efficiency, and loosening resource constraints. He currently serves as the President of Innovative Development Expertise & Advisory Services, Inc. (IDEAS), a small business seeking new ways to strengthen health systems in underserved populations throughout the world. Peter lives in the Boston area.

The Rev. Dina van Klaveren
Board Member

The Rev. Dina van Klaveren (she/hers) serves as Rector of St. Andrew’s in Glenwood and Priest-in-charge of St. Paul’s, Poplar Springs in the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland. St. Andrew’s has lasting ministry partnerships with communities in the local area, Honduras, Appalachia and Baltimore City. El Hogar has been a special partnership focus at St. Andrew’s for 15 years and Dina has travelled with seven youth teams on immersion experiences in Tegucigalpa and Amarateca.

As chair of the Episcopal Church General Convention-mandated task force on the opioid epidemic and co-chair of the Province III Task Force created to respond to the opioid epidemic in the Mid-Atlantic region, Dina advocates for congregations to embrace those in recovery or using, and their families. Prior to the COVID pandemic, she led a weekly bible study in a local outpatient recovery center. Dina is the Chair of the Board of the Claggett Center, where she previously served as Summer Camp Director from 2012 to 2014. She also serves as a summer Vicar in Biddleford Pool, Maine at two summer chapels along the coast.

Before seminary, Dina worked as the Associate Dean of Students at the Maryland Institute, College of Art. She holds degrees from the Church of the Divinity School of the Pacific in Berkeley, CA, University of Rhode Island and Whittier College (CA). Dina and her husband, Dave Stimler, have two children. She enjoys travelling, gardening and genealogy. Dina grew up in the midst of dairy and vegetable farms in Chino, CA.

Canadian Board

El Hogar Projects (Canada) is a registered charity that raises funds in Canada to support the work of El Hogar Projects in Honduras. It is based in Toronto, and run by a volunteer board of 12 members: Neal Kelly and Margo Mingay (Co-Presidents), Kim Echlin, Susan Franklin, Ann Fraser, Brenda French, Joanne Leatch, Graham Lute, Bill Meeker, Tim Morawetz, Rick Reycraft, Kate Roscoe.

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