Altoona couple involved in overseas ministry

Courtesy photo Gary and Jerri Zimmerman, founders of Love in Action International Ministries, present a plaque to Steve Sheetz (far right) and members of the Enactus team at Penn State Altoona. Steve and Nancy Sheetz gave a generous donation to the Penn State Altoona Enactus Program, and the students voted to give the donation for the construction of a store/cafe project on a property at an orphanage in Bolivia. The students developed a marketing plan for the store while on a trip to the orphanage in March 2018. On the wall behind the group are photos of the orphanage.

Penn State Altoona Enactus students develop marketing plan for store while visiting orphanage last March

Gary and Jerri Zimmer-man of Altoona, founders of Love in Action International Ministries, have been involved in overseas ministry since 1974. In 1998, it became a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, and in 2005, the group committed to building and maintaining orphanages in Latin America.

In Guayaramerin, Bolivia, the first home — Andrea’s Home of Hope and Joy — opened its doors in 2008 to welcome the first children.

Love in Action partners with the local leadership to provide house parents who guide and nurture children in a single-family dwelling.

Each house has room for 20 children and there are four houses on the campus where 67 children are being cared for and loved in a family setting.

In addition to the houses, other buildings include administrative offices, dining hall, kitchen, classrooms and chapel. Plans are to build a two-story dorm for the young people who will live there after high school graduation. They will leave the home when they are equipped and prepared to be on their own.

The children are provided a well-rounded education on site by credentialed teachers and mentored by carefully chosen staff who are trained in the areas that are unique to the needs of the children.

The older children participate in competitive sports, music and community events. The 9-12 age boys’ volleyball team placed second in the nation of Bolivia in the fall of 2017.

Andrea’s Home of Hope and Joy was given 230 acres of land, where a dairy has been established, fruit trees have been planted and a large garden is providing vegetables for the home.

Another property purchased by friends of Love in Action International Ministries, is adjacent to the main campus.

Several buildings are in construction on this property, including a bakery, storage rooms, team dorm housing and a house for the chaplain and his family.

One other property in the center of town was given to Andrea’s Home. A store/cafe is under construction on this site.

Excess products from the farm, and coffee, breakfast items and ice cream will be sold at the store/cafe helping the home to become partially self-sustaining.

Penn State Altoona Enactus students developed a marketing plan for the store while on a

trip to the orphanage in March 2018.

Steve and Nancy Sheetz gave a generous donation to the Penn State Altoona Enactus Program, and the students voted to give the donation for the construction of the store/cafe project.

Future projects such as a fish hatchery and water purification and bottling plant on the farm have been in the planning stages for a few years.

These are two other businesses that would also help the home to become self-sustaining.

There is a great need for pure, clean drinking water in the entire region, and the natural spring on the farm property would provide the water for the purification and bottling plant.

Love in Action’s mission is to establish and maintain 10 orphanages through Andrea’s Homes of Hope and Joy in Latin America by the year 2023.

The founders would be grateful for those who would be willing to join a team of volunteers, partner with them to grow these businesses or help them build a second orphanage.

“We are rescuing and changing children to change their world,” the Zimmermans said.

For further information, visit www.liaim.com or “Like” the group on Facebook at fb.com

/myloveinaction, email liaim

@aol.com or visit the group

at 210 E. Plank Road, Suite 6, Altoona.

The office phone number is

201-2202 and Gary Zimmerman, executive director, can be reached at 719-440-6979.

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