Elite Impact Education Platform

Don's Thoughts

March 20, 2024 | Volume 17
Don Wenner

Day 1 in Guatemala City

Today, our team began our mission of service at the Transforming Futures Training Center, a facility in Guatemala City that offers vital services to the region’s most vulnerable children. The Center offers a safe space for orphaned teenagers, many of whom have also been victims of abuse, violence, and neglect. Here, Transforming Futures runs enrichment programs focused on preparing these children for life outside of the orphanage, a harsh reality they are forced to face the day they turn 18, whether they are ready or not. It’s difficult to imagine that instead of looking forward to this milestone birthday, many of these children dread and even fear it.

While we were there, we had the opportunity to work with the children on some character-building activities. Character development is just one of the areas the center focuses on, in addition to programs on nutrition, life skills, education, and spiritual guidance. Knowing how heartbreaking some of their stories were, it was so great to be able to spend time with them and find reasons to make them laugh and smile. Despite the adversity they face, there’s a feeling of hope in so many of their eyes that we won’t soon forget.

Children gathered with Transforming Futures and the DLP Capital group to share a Bible story.
Children gathered with Transforming Futures and the DLP Capital group to share a Bible story.
Our sons, Donny and Alex, helping assemble care packages to share with teens in local orphanages.
Our sons, Donny and Alex, helping assemble care packages to share with teens in local orphanages.

Day 2 in Guatemala City

Today was another emotional day. We traveled to Garbage City Dump, where we met a woman named Pastora Mercedes and learned her story. Pastora runs a feeding center funded by Transforming Futures that over 400 children depend on for food each day. Even seeing it in action, it’s hard to grasp how she’s able to do it day in and day out, especially as her own life isn’t without challenges. Her selfless dedication to the children and the warmth with which she does this work were beyond inspirational. Her story reminded us all of the immense impact of even the smallest acts of kindness.

While we were there, we met with nine local families who depend on Pastora’s work. As they told us about the daily challenges they face, we were reminded of the resilience of the human spirit. Through an inspiring devotional, we shared moments of faith and hope, forging connections that transcended language barriers.

After our visit with Pastora, we visited a state-run orphanage for boys, a visit none of us will soon forget. The first thing everyone noticed was how severely overcrowded it was–45 boys sharing a living space designed for only 20. It’s hard to imagine just how crowded that is without seeing it. Despite their harsh environment, they gave us an incredibly warm welcome and even shared their talents with us–one boy even gave us a performance worthy of a standing ovation!

We ended the night with alumni students of the Transforming Futures program, listening to their incredible stories of perseverance. Hearing them reflect on their accomplishments and detail their struggles was a reminder of the inherent strength within each of us and how each one of us has an opportunity to make a difference in the lives of others.


Local families at the feeding center.
Local families at the feeding center.
Alex, Donny, Pastora, and Crews at the feeding center.
Alex, Donny, Pastora, and Crews at the feeding center.

Day 3 in Guatemala City

Today, we traveled to the rural village of Palencia and visited a school sponsored by Transforming Futures to bring education to previously unreached areas. Many of the families whose children attend this school have very little, including something so many people take for granted each night–mattresses. While we couldn’t solve every need for these families, we were able to build bunk beds for two of the village families. It was humbling to see how grateful the children were for a spot of their own to sleep, such a basic human necessity that they just never had.

One of our favorite parts of the day was playing soccer with some of the children. It’s so rewarding to see these kids who face such adversity have some time when they can just be kids. After the game, we surprised them with Beanie Babies, letting them each pick their favorite. It’s truly amazing to see the joy you can spread with such a small act of kindness.

After saying our goodbyes to the children in Palencia, we headed back to the Training Center, where we met a group of teenagers from a local orphanage who had taken part in some of the programs Transforming Futures offers. We surprised them with a trip to the local bowling alley, somewhere many of them had never been. The trip was a huge hit! Everyone was laughing, cheering, and high-fiving as they bowled for the first time.

After bowling, the Transforming Futures team accompanied us on a surprise trip to a sneaker store where they each got to pick out a pair of shoes. It was immensely humbling to see how overjoyed they were–and also how foreign the concept was. Many of them didn’t know what size shoe they wore and didn’t realize that they didn’t just have to find one that fits from the wall. It was an important reminder to all of us just how much we take for granted without realizing it, and something we'll never forget.


The DLP Capital team provided Beanie Babies to local children.
The DLP Capital team provided Beanie Babies to local children.
Alex passing out Beanie Babies to local children.
Alex passing out Beanie Babies to local children.
A fun game of soccer [football] with the kids!
A fun game of soccer [football] with the kids!
Our team assembled bunk beds for two local families.
Our team assembled bunk beds for two local families.
Carla and I with the children during our bowling excursion.
Carla and I with the children during our bowling excursion.
We had the privilege of taking 20 local teens shopping at the mall for new shoes.
We had the privilege of taking 20 local teens shopping at the mall for new shoes.

Stay Tuned...

I hope sharing these stories has left you feeling inspired. I invite you to visit our DLP Positive Returns Foundation website to see the organizations we support and ways you can get involved. I also encourage you to visit the Transforming Futures website to learn more about the incredible work they’re doing in Guatemala City.

I look forward to sharing our experience in Belize, Panama, and Costa Rica in upcoming editions of Don's Thoughts.



On Purpose Program

If you've been following me for a while, you know that I attribute my success in large part to my commitment to living intentionally, or on purpose. Today, I'm thrilled to introduce you to a new opportunity for you to do just that through the On Purpose Program, powered by the Halftime Institute.

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    • Develop your plan. Get clear on your purpose and priorities and create a pragmatic personal action plan that empowers you to maximize the life you live, today.

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Where I'm Going

Salt Lake City, UT for the Best Ever Conference
Salt Lake City, UT for the Best Ever Conference
Costa Rica
Costa Rica
Pigeon Forge, TN for DLP Capital's Building an Extraordinary Family Event at Dollywood
Pigeon Forge, TN for DLP Capital's Building an Extraordinary Family Event at Dollywood

What I'm Reading

“Dynasties” David Landes

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