Pay it Forward Project

Women Helping Women

Changing the World One Family at a Time

I am part of a pod of six coaches who call ourselves Good Trouble. We have been together over two years now. Recently the pod took on a project that began with a friendship between me and Mara, a young single mom I met in 2018 in Belize when I was travelling there. Over time it has grown beyond where I can handle it myself.

As the friendship with Mara continued after my return to the states, I became more and more impressed with her courage and her commitment to getting her three children educated in a country that has low graduation rates and high poverty. I started out contributing a few dollars a month to help with school expenses. When Covid hit, Mara, who worked in the tourist industry, was laid off and has had no income since. My contributions increased as the need increased.

It became too much for me to take on myself. What to do? 

I created The Pay It Forward Project, Women Helping Women, to draw in more of my community to help this brave little family. It’s a call to women (and men) who at one time were in need, got on their feet with the help of someone who had resources to help, and are now thriving and able to pay it forward.

Until now, Mara, who has become like a daughter, to me, lived in a poor section of a high crime area outside of Belmopan, Belize. We have looked with her at how to make this project more widespread without compromising her privacy or safety, so we call her Mara, not her real name.

See below for news of the breakthroughs Mara has made and updates on how our Pay it Forward community can help further. 


When we first met, Mara and I talked about how important it is to have family and women friends to talk to. She said she doesn’t have that where she lives.

I didn’t understand at first. How can you not have a support system? 

But now I see that when I was a struggling single mom I had the support of my mother, sister, other family members and understanding friends who could help when I needed it most. Mara, however, lives in an area where there is little support anywhere, even from family. 

 I’m borrowing words from another women’s empowerment initiative that helped me understand:

"At one point or another, you’ve needed support. And if you were lucky (or privileged) enough, you were able to get the support you needed.

Unfortunately, there are many women who don’t have anyone that they call when they need support, especially financial support.

It’s called “Network poverty.”"

That means there's no one in their immediate circle that they can reach out to for financial assistance or emotional support in times of need.  -The Bodyful Healing Project 

So now we have become that support system. In Mara's words:

"Thank you for everything. One day I know I will do something good for someone. Pass it on. You show me that you don't have to go to school to learn how to have patience, understanding and forgiveness. There's people out there who do care."

The Big Vision

One of my biggest worries during another bout with cancer this past year was not abandoning my little family while undergoing treatment and not being able to work. Good Trouble stepped in to help. They adopted Mara and her kids too, a boy ,15, and two girls, 13 and 9. As a group, Good Trouble not only supported me in my commitment to this family in ways I had never dreamed possible (giving me the gift of facing my limited thinking in the eye.) 

And they began to formulate a bigger vision.

  • Stabilize: safe housing, money for the kid’s schooling and daily living, literacy training, learning a trade for Mara and coaching her as she grows.
  • Sustain: plying that trade to bring in a sustainable income to support the family
  • Pay it forward: Mara helps another single mom get on her feet. And it grows over time from there.

I am blown away by the heart, commitment and expertise of each person in the pod. I wondered how I would sustain doing much of the financial contribution, fundraising and support coaching myself.

Now there is the power of our small but growing Pay it Forward community who send $10 - $25/month. Others send larger, one-time donations. Each contribution makes a huge impact. Plus, my Good Troublers contribute leadership, ideas, outreach, and direction as well as financial support. 

We are all learning about systemic poverty, inequality of education, and the power of the human spirit embodied in the fierce mama named Mara. We are learning. 

Mara says:

"I am more than grateful that you love me for me. Not only because you support me, but whenever we talk, you give me things to think about. I am grateful for that." 


Latest Developments: 

Last Thanksgiving, a neighbor who had been escalating menacing behavior, killed the family’s new little puppy with his machete and threatened more. We knew something had to be done to get the family out of there. As long as their safety was at stake, Mara could only think about survival. We talked about options and came up with the idea of finding a rental house in Belmopan close to her daughter’s high school and near possible job opportunities. If we could find a way for Mara and the family to live in safety for a year, she could get on her feet.

She could move from survival to sustainability. 

Price on poster is in Belize dollars,2:1 US dollars. Rent was reduced to  $400 USD/mo.


Breakthroughs and Blessings

  • House Angel contributors have made it possible for Mara and her family to feel safe, secure and at peace in their home in Belmopan. The house is sound and there is a fenced yard for beloved dog Max. Within one week of moving, she found a part-time job cleaning for a local shopkeeper. Now she is working part time at her son's school.
  • The year lease will be up the end of January. We can continue to lease on 6-month extensions but need to come up with a more permanent solution.
  • School year paid! Tuition for the coming year, uniforms, books, school supplies and project fees for all three children are covered by a very generous donor, a contribution from a religious order of nuns who help support young women growing up in Belize, and a subsidy from the daughter's high school. It takes a village.
  • We found a way to safely and reasonably send goods you donate! We sent the first 55-gallon barrel at the end of May, picked up in Las Vegas at my daughter’s house by Belize Concierge Service, and delivered to Mara’s door the last week of June. It contained many wonderful things from underwear, to curtains, to a sewing machine.
  • Mara has a job housecleaning part time. Wages $15 US/Day. She may be going to full time this fall. Literacy training and a skill like sewing will give her opportunities for better pay. Her teenage son worked this summer using some of the skills he's learning at the vocational school he is attending, thanks to our donors. 
  • A washing machine was purchased. No more washing everything by hand
  • Mara went on year-end school trips with each of her girls, an adventure for all. Her high school boy finished his first year of trade school and is doing great! He even asks his mom how he can help around the house.
  • Resume. We put together a resume for Mara to use when she looks for full-time work.


Things we, in the US, take for granted but are sorely needed by Mara's family:
Above, one of two mattresses the family sleeps on now
  • 2 foam twin mattresses, $100 each  Done
  • Mattress for existing bedframe for the boy. $100   Done
  • Mattress for Dina's double bed $350  Done
You can do a one-time gift or press the "Donate monthly" option once you enter an amount.
  •  We lost two House Angels. We need two more to help with rent and utilities which are a little more than expected. $50/month
  • Food Angels: Food. Just like here, food prices have gone through the roof. I wish I could help more. The family subsists mostly on beans and rice. Fruits and veggies, meat sometimes would make a huge difference. Looking for 10 people who would be willing to contribute 35/month.
  • We have also lost a few regular donors at 10 - $25/month. I can’t tell you how much those donations help to shore up the food situation along with the unexpected such as motor bike breakdown or medical expenses.
  • Bunk bed frame for the girls $500
  • Sewing lessons for Mara. She’s been doing YouTube tutorials and could use some human guidance. Learning to sew would give her another source of income, as she could sew school uniforms, curtains and other things for people in the community.
  • Literacy training for Mara. She is making strides learning while helping her youngest with her reading and spelling homework. But a literacy tutor would make all the difference in helping her get better employment.
  • Seed money for Choco Bananas: Dina now has a fridge with a freezer thanks to one of our donors. She wants to buy bananas, freeze them, roll them in chocolate and sell them in the neighborhood as another way to help support herself. Right now all her food money goes to feeding the family. Your $50 could start a small business.


  • A small smart TV would be a welcome gift for the family. They have no money to go out for entertainment. Currently they are using a phone for all media and entertainment as well as school projects. $250
  • I am dreadfully inexperienced at fundraising. I go by the seat of my pants month to month. Is there anyone out there that can help me do better work in this area? 
Seen by Dina Torres at Tuesday 7:39am
Mara's daughter graduating from 8th grade
See article about graduation rates in Belize
You can do a one-time gift or press the "Donate monthly" option once you enter an amount.
I am seeking
100 women and men who, like me, have once needed support in their lives and who are willing to contribute $10- $50 a month to rebuild her economic foundation, develop more skills to become self-sufficient, and step into her brilliance as a community leader. We're looking at raising $1200-$1400/month to support a family of 4. Also ideas, Belize connections or anything else you have to offer. 
  • Buy food
  • Pay utilities
  • Take care of school tuition and uniforms for her 3 growing children (yes, public schools require families to pay for tuition, books and uniforms. Sometimes even toilet paper.)
  • Take care of phone data purchase for schoolwork and possibly internet hookup in the near future. 
  • Have something available for doctor visits if the need arises (and it does with 3 kids!) Belize has no insurance. Mara has a couple of monthly prescriptions that come to about $50/mo.
  • Pay motorbike license and insurance (her means of family transportation)
  • Buy sheets, towels, dishes
  • Once in a while treat her family to ice cream
  • Create a stable foundation that is not survival-based to make it possible to create a sustainable living
Your contribution will automatically make you a member of the 
Pay it Forward Project. In exchange, you will:
  • get updates on Mara's life and family
  • be able to correspond with her directly if you wish
  • see pictures of her and her family
  • be her support network
Mara's promise:
To pay it forward and help another woman one day,
just as you and I are doing with her.
You can do a one-time gift or press the "Donate monthly" option once you enter an amount.


As I’ve gotten to know Mara and others in her country, I am acutely aware of my good fortune. I have food every day, a comfy bed, transportation, work that I love, and support of family and friends. There is nothing like seeing someone else’s sparse living situation up close and personal to give me perspective.

I am filled with gratitude for my blessings, for my friend Mara who shows me what courage and love look like, for her sweet children, and without reservation, for each of you who clicks this LINK and becomes part of the Pay It Forward Project. Thank you. I am way out of my depth here, but you are helping me find the way.