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GMC travels back to Guatemala to provide safe water

March 21, 2024 · Community

GMC team and Guatemalan community with new, designated well.
The men in the village worked hard to assist in every step of the drilling process. The ladies worked all day preparing delicious lunches and snacks for us. The children in the village were precious and we all enjoyed interacting with them. – Wayne Waites

Six GMC employees traveled to Guatemala in February 2024 to continue GMC’s mission of “building communities,” serving with Asociación Pozos Agua Viva (ASOCAVIVA). The best way to understand the process, purpose and power of this trip is to hear from those who served on it.

Krissy Matthews, a designer for GMC, was one of the six employees who joined. She highlighted the exchange of memories, love, prayers and laughter shared with the team and those they met in Guatemala. Krissy was always led back to GMC’s ultimate goal of ‘building communities.’

Krissy playing with the children of the village
Krissy playing with the children of the village.

“I don’t think I really understood our company motto, “building communities” until this trip to Guatemala,” Krissy said. “Building a community is so much more than making a building, or drilling a well. Building a community requires a human connection. To me, that was so special about this trip. I was able to watch the community come together to take care of us, while our community of GMC employees with Jaime’s team were able to come together and provide the village with water. I hope to have more experience like this not only in Guatemala but also with the communities in need near me. They have changed my life for the better.”

GMC has sent employees to Guatemala to serve with ASOCAVIVA five times over the last several years. The ASOCAVIVA organization provides safe drinking water to remote areas in Guatemala by drilling wells and is led by Jaime Torres. Aside from drilling water wells, ASOCAVIVA also provides health and hygiene programs for the children and families in the villages where they work. Mark Van Aken, geotechnical services manager, was reminded of the universal language of love and hard work. He said that despite the language barrier, they were all able to work as a unified team to serve a greater purpose.

Mark and Wayne helping with the drilling
“The site was tough; drilling and installing the well was a difficult process.” – Mark, shown here with the orange hat, with Wayne Waites.

“The opportunity to be of service for a greater cause was a much-needed reminder that what we do isn’t always answering client calls and meeting deadlines,” Mark said. “Although we didn’t all speak the same language, we understood our purpose and the impact that finding a clean source of water would have on the village for generations.  The camaraderie that was built among our group, the ASOCAVIVA crew, and the villagers show that faith and love are universal, even if the local dialect is not.  I’m thankful for Jaime and ASOCAVIVA – working with them has made me a better person and a better geologist. I’m thankful for the GMC team– a group that started off as strangers and transformed into family– and for GMC for providing this opportunity and standing behind our motto of ‘Building Communities.’”

Ashley McKeithan, Vice President of HR, spoke on how rewarding the experience was to her. Ashley helped serve the kids of the community by sitting, reading and playing with them. Everyone who worked with the children highlighted their infectious joy and laughter – a highlight to every day.

Ashley with the newly installed well
Ashley with the newly installed well.

“Working with the people of Guatemala and the community that we met and grew to know was the most rewarding and humbling experience,” Ashley said. “The kids were very loving and I enjoyed getting to see their smiling faces each day! Jaime and his team alongside our team made our experience in Guatemala one that I will never forget. Making new friends in the community there and amongst our GMC team was an irreplaceable experience that will bond us forever. I hope to go back one day and bring my family so they can experience the blessings as well.”    

GMC is a company of 550+ so it is nearly impossible to know every peer, other than the ones you work alongside daily. Wayne Waites and Keith Strickland, inspector in GMC’s Transportation discipline and engineering manager respectively, spoke to this and how they only knew one other employee they served with in Guatemala. This is another example of how this annual trip builds communities, not only in the town being served but in GMC as a whole. 

Mark and Keith moving pipes
Mark and Keith moving pipes.

“I appreciate the opportunity of working with a company like GMC that allowed our team to travel to Guatemala,” Wayne said. “What was unexpected was how life changing the trip would be to our team. Soon we all became like family with a common goal. The villagers were a joy to work with. Jaime and his team were a joy to be associated with, and it was obvious his crew is led by God to do his work. Jaime needs our continued support and prayers that will allow him to continue his mission to help others that are less fortunate that us. This was a trip of a lifetime that I am sure that our GMC team will never forget.”

“The trip to Guatemala was truly a remarkable experience,” Keith said. “There is no greater feeling than serving others, especially when you can provide them with something they are not able to provide themselves. Giving this community access to clean drinking water will be something I will never forget. It truly blessed me just as much as it did the local community. Perhaps the best part of the entire experience was being able to share this with some of GMC teammates, many of which I had never met before. I am so thankful for the opportunity to be a part of the GMC family.”

Mark and Jeremy working on installing the well
Mark and Jeremy assisting with the drilling process.

The final team member was Jeremy Lipscomb, project engineer. Jeremy left Guatemala touched by not only the work that was done there, but in the kindness of humanity. He says that he has a whole new perspective on thankfulness and the blessing he’s given in his daily life.

“This entire trip and experience were truly life changing,” Jeremy said. “It lets you know that there are still people in this world that are kind and thankful.  To be embraced by the community the way we were was really warming.  I was brought to tears at several points during this trip.  Whether it was watching how thankful the community was or having to depart my new brothers and sisters, the tears were definitely flowing! 

I thank God for this opportunity!  I am thankful for GMC sponsoring and for my brothers and sisters with ASOCAVIVA. The bonds and memories will go with me as long as I live. I hope and pray that this well is as big of a blessing to this community as this trip was to me.  If I could drop everything and go again, I would take every single chance I get!”

GMC is always so filled with gratitude after a trip to Guatemala with Jaime and his team. The work ASOCAVIVA is doing is unlike any other, and we are so thankful to be able to provide the team with helpful hands and hearts. We can’t wait until the next one!