PITTSBURGH, Pa. — Inside the Bakerstown Alliance Church’s basement sits a room with school supply donations, operated and run by Brad and Bethany Wentz.
The couple sits at a table with their laptop chatting on Zoom with Grace Paz, located 3,000 miles away from Pittsburgh in Pinalejo, Honduras. Pinalejo is a small village which the Wentzes say is forgotten by the government.
“We saw these kids living in cardboard huts sleeping on the ground, you know, no blankets, living in tarps, our hearts were broken,” said Brad Wentz.
The couple first discovered the village of Pinalejo when they went on a mission trip in 2010. They were helping the community dig a trench for a fountain.
Bethany Wentz was interacting with some small children, and asked them, “what they wanted to be when they grew up? They were saying doctors, lawyers, teachers, and we were looking at them, thinking, ‘How could you even have dreamed this big when you don’t even know when your next meal is coming, you don’t have shoes on your feet?”
The Wentzes knew they needed to help, so they started the nonprofit Dream Big Honduras.
“For me, going down there and seeing the extreme poverty they’re living in, but then also the joy that they have, was just really eye-opening for me,” said Bethany. “To the point where I was just like, ‘I can’t turn my head away from this.’”
Many of the children drank out of the river, which was also used for bathing and bathroom use. So the pair started small by sending filtration water bottles to the children at the local school.
“Every kid could come and fill their water up every day and then have it all day to take to school,” said Brad. “So that was just like one example how we started little, but then it grew. It just kind of exploded, so it started with that water filter, then it turned into a full-blown partnership with the school.”
Eleven years after the Wentzes first visit, they employ three Hondurans to help operate the school programs for kindergarten, elementary, and secondary tutorial programs for students in seventh to twelfth grade. They also helped form a food bank and run three yearly medical mission trips down to the area for the village and nearby communities.
On the trips down, they take 600 pounds of donations, including school supplies, shoes and even multivitamins for malnourished children.
“We’re just trying to give them those basic needs,” said Bethany. “So you know, get them into school, get them educated and help them dream big.”
The Wentzes are involved with a big fundraiser for the families in Honduras after hurricanes destroyed the community in November. The group is trying to raise $40,000 to help build 13 homes. One home has already been built and was recently presented to the family.
Grace Paz lives in Honduras and works with the nonprofit. She says if Dream Big Honduras weren’t around, people wouldn’t survive.
“They would be done; you are (Bethany and Brad) providing them food every week and medical emergencies,” said Paz. “We had one of the kids dying, and we took her to the hospital; you paid the hospital. It is amazing what you are doing, we are doing, what God is doing through us.”
Paz said the Wentzes devotion to helping her people recover and grow is a blessing, “We are so proud of them, because from the first day they decided to help the people here, they never stopped.”
Brad and Bethany Wentz are making us proud to be from Pittsburgh.
To find out more information or help Dream Big Honduras, check out their Facebook page.