Our Mission

Our mission is to help the Mayan people of northwest Guatemala improve the quality of their lives through programs in health, education and related infrastructure.

 

Our Vision

The vision of Casa Colibrí is to:

  • Make medical and dental care available and accessible where none existed previously.
  • Decrease the rates of maternal and infant mortality.
  • Ensure that all families understand the need for, and routinely use, filtered water.
  • Have every child stay in school, read at least at an 8th grade level, and have a vision for their future.
  • Encourage entrepreneurial activity by providing the knowledge and financing options needed to initiate and support small businesses.
  • Continuously improve and enhance our programs.

Who Supports Us

Casa Colibrí supports its programs with funds provided by grant-making organizations and generous individual donors. All donated funds are used specifically to purchase medication, supplies and equipment needed to support programs or to pay the salaries of our three Guatemalan employees (clinic nurse, clinic caretaker and executive director.) All members of the Casa Colibrí board of directors are volunteers. All volunteers pay their own expenses to attend meetings or to travel to Guatemala to assist with programs. No funds are used for fundraising efforts or other administrative functions.

 

For More On What We Do, See Our Video:

Casa Colibri Staff

Juan Francisco Fernandez

Juan Francisco Fernandez

Executive Director

Francisco Fernández is a motivated and capable leader. He was born in Guatemala, but when the civil war broke out, his parents sent him to live with relatives in Canada for safety reasons. Living abroad, Francisco learned to speak English and French fluently, which has shaped his life considerably. He later returned to Guatemala and resumed his studies, earning a degree in Tourism in 2001. He earned a second degree in Business Administration, graduating from the University of Galileo in 2003. While working as a travel guide throughout Guatemala and Central America, Francisco learned about the struggles of the Mayan people firsthand as he traversed the Guatemalan landscape. His seamless translating skills led to other employment opportunities, and he began to work in the non-profit sector. Francisco became involved at the hands-on level building the clinic in Nuevo Edén, and through this experience was inspired to make Casa Colibrí his life’s work. He is a loving husband and father of three delightful daughters.

Email: jfernandez@casacolibri.org

Catarina Mateo Lorenzo

Catarina Mateo Lorenzo

Professional Midwife

Catarina is a university-trained midwife, but her duties encompass much more than delivering babies. She makes regular rounds with the Clinic on Wheels and does all the prenatal checkups in 24 villages. She teaches when we have health workshops for young women and midwife trainings for traditional birth attendants.She has served as a consultant for family planning and worked with Niños Sanos applying fluoride varnish. She starts each day with excitement, grateful for the opportunity to help her people in important ways.

Pablo Salvador

Pablo Salvador

Caretaker

Palbo is a hard-working member of the Casa Colibrí team. He lives in the village of Nuevo Edén and is responsible for the security, cleaning, and maintenance of the clinic. He does an excellent job keeping the place spotless and in good repair. When visiting teams come to the clinic for medical mission trips, the floors are always gleaming white and the facility is in tip-top shape to start work immediately. A self-starter, Pablo asked if he could participate in a village health promoter training to learn more about community health issues. He was an excellent student and has already applied much of what he learned at the seminar to his everyday life. Thanks to Pablo, when mission teams arrive at the clinic, it is like “coming home.”

Birena Pascual Lorenzo

Birena Pascual Lorenzo

Clinic on Wheels Assistant

Birena serves on the Clinic on Wheels team while she completes her nursing degree at the Universidad Panamericana Guatemala. She is always learning on the job, honing her nursing skills and adding to her ever-expanding base of knowledge. Birena is well suited for her work with Casa Colibrí because she LOVES babies, and she gets plenty of opportunities to provide health care to infants and young children.

Antonio Gómez

Antonio Gómez

On Site Supervisor and Community Liaison

Antonio has been with Casa Colibrí since the very beginning. He is an invaluable part of the team. He can do anything! at present, he is the on-site supervisor of our staff in Nuevo Edén. He travels with the Clinic on Wheels to all of the 24 villages where we offer prenatal services to pregnant women. Since Antonio is so widely known and liked by the people who live in the communities we serve, his presence is of critical importance. He is the connection between the villages and Casa Colibrí, arranging medical and dental visits, transportation for patients, workshops, and other services we offer. Antonio embodies the caring and concern that Casa Colibrí strives to provide every day.

U.S. Directors

Jay Eastman

Jay Eastman

Board Member

Jay Eastman, M.D. has practiced pediatric medicine for over 40 years. His office is in Bingham Farms, Michigan. He first became interested in international pediatrics when Trinity Health asked him to participate in a medical mission trip to Brazil. Since then, he has done medical mission work in the Marshall Islands, India, and Guatemala. He is a member of the American Academy of Pediatrics Section on International Child Health and is a devoted advocate for children’s health and well-being all over the globe. Jay is Physician Champion for Reach Out and Read-Michigan and is committed to seeing that children grow up with books and a love of reading. He is also a Past President and active member of the Rotary club of Rochester, Michigan. Dr. Eastman was honored with William Beaumont Hospital’s Outstanding Physician and Humanitarian Award. Jay is married to Linda, and they have three children and six grandchildren.
Contact Info
Phone: (248) 425-2360
Email: eastmanjay0@gmail.com

Gerald (Gerry) Jackson

Gerald (Gerry) Jackson

Director at Large

Gerry is a full-time professional engineering consultant and manages his own company, GJ Engineering LLC.  He has earned both MS and BS degrees in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Iowa.   He holds professional engineering licenses in 9 states.  Gerry is a former U.S. Army officer and also a former district governor of Rotary International District 6380 in southeastern Michigan, USA and southwestern Ontario, Canada and is currently president of the International Fellowship of Motorcycling Rotarians in North America.  Gerry was primarily responsible to design and implement the internet based remote medicine capability at our clinic in remote Guatemala and performs multiple functions while working in our various missions in the clinic.  Gerry’s wife, Debbie, is a conservation specialist with the University of Kansas’ Monarch Watch program and works on preservation of the monarch butterfly.  Gerry and Debbie have 3 children and 4 grandchildren.  They enjoy travelling motorcycling, gardening and playing with their grandchildren.

Sandy Kessler

Sandy Kessler

Board Member at Large

Sandy Kessler, MSN, of Cedar Rapids, Iowa brings with her a wealth of nursing knowledge and experience. She has traveled to Guatemala 8 times since 2012 as a member of the Iowa MOST surgical team. Our Executive Director, Francisco recommended her for the Casa Colibrí Niños Sanos team, which she joined in February 2022. The kids of Nuevo Eden are still asking”Dónde está Sandy? and wondering when she will return. Sandy has expansive nursing experience, from the surgical team to home health care and hospice. Her surgical specializations are otolaryngology, ophthalmology, oral surgery, and dentistry. She also has past experience as a Student At-Risk Advisor for grades 5-8 in Solon, IA schools. Sandy grew up on a farm and can do most anything. She has been a business owner, owning two Dairy Queens and a wood-burning stove shop at one time. Sandy is also a master gardener and a bit of a gym rat, having taught classes for 15 years. 
Emilio Porras

Emilio Porras

Board Member at Large

Emilio participated in the eye clinic mission in 2018 as a translator, driver, and anything else we needed.  He was an excellent team member!  He was also quite amazing helping us through customs entering into Guatemala. Emilio is originally from Guatemala and is of 50% Ladino and 50% Mayan decent. He worked as an attorney before he left Guatemala toward the end of their civil war. He has been a US citizen for quite some time, yet he still has close ties with family and friends in Guatemala. Because of this, Emilio has a unique insight into cultural issues. Emilio is married and lives in South Carolina where he owns and operates Porras & Associates, Inc., an Allstate Insurance business. He is also a Rotarian and a member of the Rotary Club of Mauldin, South Carolina.  He is also an associate member of the Rotary Club of Motorcycling Rotarians.
Brock Earnhardt

Brock Earnhardt

Board Member at Large

Brock is a retired large-water utility CEO who has traveled to our service area many times. He worked directly with Agua del Pueblo designing and implementing the water and sanitation plan that was installed in Nuevo Edén two years ago wherein every family received a latrine with a washable toilet complete with a sewage and treatment system, and a rainwater catchment system with tank right at their home. Now there is a water spigot at every home that can be used for indoor and outdoor water needs. Brock is a long-time Rotarian and is a member of the Davenport, Iowa Rotary Club. He is one of just 42 Rotarians in the world who have been selected to receive The Rotary Foundation’s Distinguished Service award, its highest honor. It recognizes significant and dedicated service by a Rotarian to promote Foundation programs and thus advance the Foundation’s goal of better understanding and friendly relations among people of the world. In his own words, “I am flattered and honored that you would consider me to join the Casa Colibri Board of Directors. My heart has been with the people and places of the Western Highlands for the last 22 years, and the opportunity to deepen my involvement through Casa Colibri is gratifying.” 

Ellen Heinitz

Ellen Heinitz

Board Member at Large

Dr. Ellen Heinitz is a naturopathic physician. Her private practice experience includes 13 years of being a clinic owner/manager while providing primary patient care and health education classes. A passion for nutrition led to an undergraduate degree in nutrition followed by work as a nutrition analyst, educator, and program director. Ellen had an apprenticeship as a home birth midwife and volunteered in the Congo where she managed the development of a Maternal Infant Health program and provided prenatal care and education.  She and her husband moved to Huehuetenango, Guatemala in 2017, living for five months in a remote village and providing primary and prenatal care. They developed a love for the local people and an understanding of their way of life. It was during this time that they came in contact with, and began volunteering with, Casa Colibrí. Ellen went back to Nuevo Edén to volunteer as a primary care provider and nurse mentor in 2019 and currently serves as a member of the Medical Committee. She is proficient in Spanish.

 Dr. Debra Hibbeln

Dr. Debra Hibbeln

Director at Large

Debi is a dentist with a successful general practice in Rochester, Michigan. Always professional, she quickly establishes a rapport with adults and children alike because of her delightful sense of humor. Dr. Hibbeln completed her undergraduate studies at the University of Michigan and graduated from the University of Detroit Mercy School of Dentistry in 1993. She attended a residency in advanced dentistry at the Ohio State University Hospital. Debi loves to travel with her husband and two sons and has been to some of the most amazing places in the world. Besides alleviating pain for hundreds of indigenous Mayan patients who wait in a long line to see her, Debi is an intrepid driver who likes to maneuver a 4 × 4 high-clearance pickup truck over the rocky, muddy Guatemalan terrain.

Lori Hines

Lori Hines

Board Member at Large

Lori graduated from Albion College and began her career in public accounting with Coopers & Lybrand (C&L) where she obtained her CPA license.  She left C&L to pursue her MBA in Finance and Corporate Strategy from the University of Michigan – Ross School of Business. Upon graduation, Lori joined Ford Motor Company, where she spent more than a dozen years in several purchasing / process improvement roles.  After leaving Ford, she spent 12 years working for a small automotive consulting firm where she supported two start-up ventures.  Approximately a year and half ago, Lori took time off to determine the next stage of her career. At that time, she was looking for a meaningful volunteer opportunity where she could use her professional skills to benefit a non-profit organization. Through family she became aware of Casa Colibrí and was awed by the work and accomplishments of the organization. Lori is involved at every level of financial operations. Recently, Ms. Hines was offered the position of Finance Manager at Karmanos Cancer Institute in Detroit. She lives in Northville, Michigan with her husband, Paul Blair, and family. 

Michael Stargardt

Michael Stargardt

Board Member at Large

Dr. Stargardt is a board-certified pediatrician working at Munson Healthcare Manistee Pediatrics in northern Michigan. After being awarded a National Health Service Corps scholarship, he attended Michigan State University College of Osteopathic Medicine. He completed his residency at Children’s Hospital of Michigan in 2001. He has worked extensively in both hospital and private-practice settings. Dr. Stargardt traveled to the Casa Colibrí clinic in 2023 and served on the pediatric mini-jornada. Of that trip, he wrote, “It was an absolute pleasure working with the team at Casa Colibrí this February. The dedication of the staff and volunteers was truly impressive. Traveling to the remote locations provided great insight into the community. I especially enjoyed spending time with the local providers and seeing the pediatric patients with their families. The long-standing commitment to the community is one of the things that is distinctive about Casa Colibrí, and it really separates this work from many other charitable organizations I have worked with in the past.” In addition to caring for patients and teaching, he is an accomplished photographer. He also speaks Spanish fluently. Mike lives in Manistee with his wife, Sarah. 

Lilianna Hibbeln

Lilianna Hibbeln

Past President

Lilianna is a Chicago-based regulatory professional in the medical device manufacturing industry, specializing in international affairs with particular focus in Latin American countries. As a Spanish-speaker and graduate of the University of Michigan with degrees in English and Creative Writing, Lilianna brings a background in cross-culture communication, project- and program-management and administration, and generational perspective to the Casa Colibrí team.

Linda Eastman

Linda Eastman

President

Linda Eastman is a native Michigander, having lived in the Detroit area all her life. She and husband Jay have three grown children and six beloved grandchildren. Linda’s educational background is in Latin American Studies. A former primary school Spanish teacher, she became interested in Guatemala when her husband was invited to serve as medical director of a Rotary medical mission team. He recruited her to interpret for the group, and she has never looked back. She later joined the Rotary Club of Rochester, Michigan and serves as Literacy Committee Chair at present. What impressed her most about Guatemala was the tenacity of the Mayan people. They have endured for centuries, clinging steadfastly to their culture and traditions, and Linda admires them deeply for their perseverance. Her vision for Casa Colibrí is to establish a full-time medical presence at the clinic. She is also determined to get books into the hands of children through the Reach Out and Read program.
Contact Info
Phone: (248) 909-5951
Email: McGindy@aol.com

Deb Dunkhase

Deb Dunkhase

Board Member at Large