James Meyer and his sister, Elliot, children of Arlaina and Damon Meyer, show gratitude for the support received for James’ fundraising effort to building family homes in Guatemala in partnership with Food for the Poor and Caritas. (Submitted photo)

Jenny Snarski
Catholic Herald Staff

“Once upon a time, there was a little boy named James Ronaldo Meyer. His mommy and daddy loved him so much that they traveled far, far away to another country to bring him home. He is their gift from God and his life will bring God glory.”

Sixteen-year-old James Meyer shares his childhood bedtime story at www.championsforthepoor.org/participant/JamesRonaldo. The site recounts Meyer’s 2016 mission trip to Guatemala with his parents and the organization Food for the Poor. Meeting families in his birth country who needed homes prompted the young boy, only 10 at the time, to start fundraising.

The Catholic Herald featured the Meyers family and their adoption journey – both James and his sister, Elliot, are adopted – in a two-part article in October and November of 2019.

Having recently completed the funding for two more homes, the family’s goal is to fund their 12th home by the end of 2022.

Meyer’s mother, Arlaina, announced in a Facebook post on Aug. 9 that the 10th and 11th homes had been fully funded through the generosity of family, friends and the Rice Lake Rotary Club.

“Words can’t express our thankfulness for the many who have come together over the years with the mission of sharing love!” Arlaina wrote and added a note of gratitude for the “encouragement, prayers and support by so many over the years.”

Since a very young age, Meyer has had a heart for his home country, asking for money rather than gifts to help provide clean water, animals and education to Guatemalans served by Food for the Poor.

Since 2016, Meyer has raised more than $85,000.

Guernseys for Guatemala is another project of the Meyers family, bringing together Arlaina and Damon’s education and lifelong connection to dairy farming. It was actually funds from the sale of a small herd of Arlaina’s that became the seed fund for their first child’s adoption.

Meyer and his sister, Elliot, have been involved in agriculture for years, raising market hogs and showing Guernsey heifers through 4-H.

In 2019, he presented a speech for the National Guernseys Convention in Eau Claire, making the case for the cows to be brought to Guatemala as they are a uniquely well-suited breed for the region and local needs.

Through additional support from family, friends and a $12,000 grant through the Mary Alphonse Bradley Fund, the Meyers have established the “Guernseys for Guatemala” program, partnering with Caritas Arquidiocesana de Guatemala.

Nearly two dozen farmers have been enrolled in the program with access to quality Guernsey genetics, with a total of 450 straws of semen provided. Relationships are being built through mentorship with local farmers.

The Meyer family said they continue to be amazed at the outcomes of partnerships to help families gain access to these breeding and educational opportunities.