Loren played a very important role in the development of the Guatemalan Scholarship/Loan Program as well as in the lives of all of us who work with Progresa both here and in California. He first came to Guatemala from Nicaragua in December, 1990. His plan was only to visit and study Spanish, but he immediately fell in love with the country and its people. Shortly after his arrival Loren learned of the small Guatemala Friends Meeting in an article in Friends journal written by Trudi Hunt. In 1992 he wrote to Trudi at a post office box in Miami and soon met the Hunts and joined the Guatemala Friends Meeting where he learned about the scholarship program. In typical fashion the first thing he asked was how he could help.
Loren’s commitment to helping others was central to his life. In Nicaragua he lived in a rural community where he helped the local people build a water system and purchased medicines for the guerilla resistance. Prior to moving to Nicaragua he had lived for many years in Willits, California building his own home without power tools and creating a wonderful garden. During that period of his life he cooked for five years for “Daily Bread” a program which fed homeless people. He moved to Central America when his growing allergy to the tan oak trees forced him to leave Willits.
From 1991 to 1996 Loren helped Tom and Trudi Hunt administer the Guatemalan Scholarship Program in any way he could. One of his accomplishments was to enter all of the data in ancient Apple computer. Although Trudi, a retired librarian, never trusted the computer and continued to use index cards, Loren’s persistence was one of the things that allowed the program to continue smoothly when Tom died I 1996 and Trudi moved to Santa Rosa, California. In that year, when Loren took over as Director, his dedication to Quaker process led him to create an administrative committee of ex-students and members of the meeting to guide the future of the program.
His concern for the students whose mailed checks were lost or stolen led to the decision to deliver checks in person or set up individual bank accounts for students. This required more administrative time and led to the decision of hiring the first employees for the program. Under Loren’s leadership the program continued to become more involved with providing support and counseling for our students in addition to the monthly checks. When possible we visited their families and their homes in order to better understand the difficulties they faced. In sum, many of the things that Progresa does to this day were fostered by the love and caring that Loren brought to the program. His caring not only impacted the scholarship program, it affected all of us who worked with him.
Rest in peace Loren Lacelle.