The Centre of Hope was founded by The DIG (The Doppenbergs in Guatemala). The DIG began many years ago, with the Doppenberg Family, Geoff & Rita, and their 3 sons, Zack, Luke and Gabe. Following their hearts, they began their foray into humanitarianism in 2005 by aiding in the rebuilding of Gulfport, Mississippi and New Orleans, Louisiana after Hurricane Katrina. They continued this work for 5 years and ran teams of youth and adults there every winter. Later they found themselves serving in Kenai, Alaska with Habitat for Humanity as well as many local outreach programs run through various Churches, organizations and the local municipality of the Niagara Region of Canada. Nothing seemed to fit with them until they went to Guatemala in 2010. They continue to serve there to this day.

Previously they owned a successful contracting company in Canada for over 15 years. Geoff grew up in an agricultural family and has extensive knowledge not only in the areas of construction and contracting but also managerial issues that surround running a successful organization. Rita is a Holistic Nutritionist with a background in finance. Through their work, they realized that education is key in helping people become self – sustaining. They began building schools to provide a hand up not a hand out. After building 3 schools and meeting with key members of governments they realized there was a total lack of support or educational opportunities in their region for children with special needs, learning disabilities, support for parents of malnourished children etc. Thus, the Centre of Hope was born and is the hub from which all of their education, nutrition and health programs run. The Doppenberg family sold everything they had in Canada and moved to Guatemala permanently in 2013, to oversee their mission that is now the Centre of Hope (Centro De Esperanza). The DIG hosts volunteers of all ages and skills-sets and to date the mission in Guatemala has hosted hundreds of volunteers. The DIG is completely funded by donations.

The DIG is run by the Doppenberg Family under the umbrella of ‘Commission to Every Nation’, a Canada/USA nonprofit sending organization. (Note: Commission to Every Nation is a sending organization, formed in 1994, that allows missionaries/humanitarians the ability to ‘go and do’ rather than worry about the responsibilities involved with starting their own non-profit. We stand by, support, audit and facilitate sub-organizations like the DIG, run by the Doppenberg Family to allow them to do what they need and give donors peace of mind that money is going where there is need).

Due to the Doppenbergs love of people, animals and of the earth, as well as their experience and knowledge of the benefits of AAT (Animal Assisted Therapy) for children with special needs, they also founded the Sanctuary of Hope. The Sanctuary focuses on conservation, rehabilitation and preservation. It is home to abused and rescued animals that can no longer survive in the wild. It provides daily opportunities for Animal Assisted Therapy for the children & families from the Centre of Hope. It also provides education seminars and workshops teaching reforestation techniques, water conservation, plant use in nutrition and medicine as well as care of the earth to ensure we all live in health and harmony.

The DIG, alongside volunteers from all over the world, serve the people of Guatemala, with a direct focus upon nutrition, education, health, personal empowerment and sustainability.

MISSION STATEMENT: “To work toward abolishing malnourishment & its effect in Guatemala by addressing immediate need and then helping people become healthy & self-sustaining through education and empowerment. To work together with others to open their hearts & minds to service so together we can make this world a better place.”

Geoff and Rita Doppenberg are also honoured recipients of the Paul Harris Fellowship from Rotary International.

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