Who We Are
Inside Hearts of Gold
Empower Communities from Within
Hearts of Gold is a registered Ecuadorian nonprofit that works to boost the capacities of local nonprofits so that they can reach their unique goals. Our belief is that if you have a mission to help your community, we want to help you succeed!
Through a series of capacity building workshops, community dialogues, and mentorship hours, we work side by side with nonprofit leaders – the real changemakers – to help them embrace their strengths, target areas of weakness, and thrive in their long-term services to populations in need.
A Letter From Our Founders
- Winning the Genetic Lottery
- ‘Hearts of Gold’ is born
- Time Flies
- A New Direction
- Our Heartfelt Thanks
As Canadians, we were most fortunate to be born in a safe and prosperous country and to live in the most affluent economic time in history. We could have been born in a tiny village in Africa, destitute with no hope of escape, but thankfully, that wasn’t the case. Richard always says ‘There but for the grace of geography go I’, meaning we were lucky, but others were not so fortunate.
When we arrived in Cuenca in October of 2010, it was shocking to come face to face with extreme poverty on a regular basis. Children are regular vendors on the streets, selling roses, candy and anything else to help the family stay afloat. Their sad yet hopeful faces as they try to make a sale are impossible to ignore.
Richard used to play ‘let’s make a deal’ with the little guys selling gum in the restaurants, joking with them and getting them to give him a discount if he bought the whole box of gum. He would bargain hard, tease them and make them laugh. When they finally agreed, he would give them full price anyway. He loved to get the boys smiling and he said it was training for the salesmen of the future
Six short weeks after arriving in Cuenca, we were at dinner one night with a group of expats and someone shared that there was an orphanage lacking even basic staples for Christmas. Richard happened to have a gold coin in his pocket which he pulled out and declared he would raffle it and 10 silver coins to raise money for the kids for Christmas.
Richard also challenged the men against the women at the table to see who could raise the most money. I don’t recall what we named the women’s team but the men’s team was ‘Hearts of Gold’. That raffle raised over $2500 that Christmas and we were able to give small gifts and food staples to the orphanage and several families. However, the need didn’t stop there and shortly thereafter we had organizations knocking on our door asking for help in other ways. The name just stuck and the rest is history.
Things moved rapidly over the next 3 years; we became a legal not for profit foundation and we were working with several Ecuadorian organizations, supporting them through fund raising, education and helping those organizations become legal so they had access to government funding. It became clear that the old model of not-for-profit organizations wasn’t overly effective and that we did not have the resources to continue on as we were.
The time came to get serious or close the foundation. But how could we let down all of the people we were helping by this time?
Not really an option, so we recruited Natasha, as acting Executive Director and she chose to move in a new direction. She took the wheel, built her team and began the evolution to the Hearts of Gold you see today, focusing on providing the skills, tools, support and environment to help other community leaders improve in effecting lasting change in their communities. In other words, Hearts of Gold supports other not-for-profits that would never have access to the information that can make their organizations better and hopefully, self-sustaining.
We would like to thank ALL the hundreds of volunteers, donors and supporters who have worked so hard supporting Hearts of Gold and the organizations we work with. It has been the experience of a lifetime and we are so grateful to everyone who has been involved. Most especially, we are incredibly indebted to the core team at Hearts of Gold; Natasha, Maria Jose, Colleen and Kelly, along with the Advisory Board for continuing what began as a humble wish to bring joy to kids at Christmas. It has become so much more than we ever dreamed!
‘Give a man a fish, you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime’
With much gratitude,
Sheryle Verkley and Richard Verkley
Your Gift Is Honored
We are committed to financial transperancy and responsibility
At Hearts of Gold we ensure that every contribution is responsibly distributed to our partners and programs. We value your trust as a donor and a member of our community, and we are committed to financial transparency and accountability. Our doors are always open to discuss the financial operations at Hearts of Gold.
Helping others is not a job, it is a calling
Where It All Began
Richard and Sheryle Verkley moved from Canada to Cuenca, Ecuador and grew a passion to serve their new community through informal charity outreach
The Big Movement
What started as a personal desire to help others developed into something real. There became a need to legitimize the work of the Verkleys and the expat community in Cuenca.
Making It Official
Hearts of Gold became an official foundation according to the Ecuadorian government in 2013. As a nonprofit, the foundation was now able to serve the community with new formalities.
From Values to Mission
With its new status, Hearts of Gold made a shift from donation-based services to capacity building work. Hearts of Gold would now focus on empowerment of smaller grassroots organizations.
Empowering From Within
Hearts of Gold developed its mission and vision, and created the Community Assistance Program, wherein small grassroots organizations could attain membership and become partners with Hearts of Gold.
So Much More to Achieve
Hearts of Gold continued to soar as its mission expanded to long-term sustainability of its partners. The foundation witnessed a 130% growth in funds dispersed per year, totaling a 698% increase in funding from 2012 to 2015.
Most Common Questions
Key information you need to know about our organization
Want to Know More?
Feel free to contact us any time
The Hearts of Gold Foundation is a nonprofit organization that works with existing Ecuadorian foundations to boost their capacities, and in doing so, help them thrive in the long-term. We focus on building the capacity of our partners as organizations and nonprofit professionals so that they will be more sustainable and independent.
The biggest difference between Hearts of Gold and other organizations is our partnership with existing Ecuadorian organizations that have been working in their communities for years. We are the only organization of our kind in Ecuador working to strengthen nonprofits through capacity building and bring together nonprofits that are working towards similar missions in Ecuador.
In addition, Hearts of Gold has a unique network that endeavors to connect the Expat and Ecuadorian communities in Azuay. Working on both a local and international level, we seek to promote cross-cultural unity and help expose smaller Ecuadorian organizations to greater resources.
Hearts of Gold is currently partnered with several organizations in and around the city of Cuenca through our Community Assistance Program, which provides complimentary workshops and consultations to leaders of local nonprofits.
We are able to provide committed support to our partner organizations thanks to the generous contributions we receive from our loyal donors, and to our annual fundraising events.
Since 2012, we have partnered with nonprofits that support a variety of causes, such as academic support, therapies, nutrition, autism awareness, housing, HIV/AIDS, inclusionary education, cancer services and support, elderly care and many more. At Hearts of Gold we want to see all of these organizations succeed and serve their communities in the best way possible!
Hearts of Gold was founded in 2010 by Canadian Expats Richard and Sheryle Verkley. In 2013, Hearts of Gold elected a Board of Directors, expanded its team, and became an official Ecuadorian Foundation, effectively offering greater support to the organizations with which it partners.
Every donation made to Hearts of Gold is tracked and assigned to its corresponding campaign – whether that be towards balanced, nutritious meals at Fundacion El Arenal or tuition fees at CETAP-Lucy.
Any unrestricted gifts made to Hearts of Gold are designated to our Community Assistance Program, which provides our partners with free services through mentorship, training, and administrative support. We host capacity building workshops for our partners and all nonprofits on subject areas such as Fundraising, Strategic Planning, Marketing, Finances, Time Management, Leadership, and many more.
Like many nonprofit organizations, Hearts of Gold utilizes the Gift Works program in order to track every donation it receives. This program allows us to assign each donation to the program or campaign the donor designates. It also generates reports in a secure and reliable platform.
The majority of our funds come from an amazing network of compassionate individuals on both the local and international levels. There are several businesses who are working with us through our corporate sponsorship program, which covers a great deal of our fundraising costs. We also work with Global GIving, through whom Hearts of Gold receives its 501c3 status in the United States and can accept grants and tax-deductible donations of any amount.
Our office is currently located in Cuenca, Ecuador. Please visit our contact page to view our exact location and contact information.
We work with organizations throughout the province of Azuay, and on the coast for earthquake relief.
As a young nonprofit, Hearts of Gold sees so many ways that we can grow and improve in our services to the community. In the short-term, we would like to see the growth of our Community Assistance Program to better serve our partners and implement a series of skills-building workshops. We would like to become a leader in a network of nonprofits and grassroots organizations in Cuenca and Ecuador. We believe we have the potential to be truly representative of the social issues in Ecuador through partnering with organizations in the sierra, coast and Amazon. We believe that by empowering organizations and community leaders, we as a small nonprofit in Cuenca, can have the largest impact on the social fabric of Ecuadorian society.
We are an independent organization, and do not define ourselves by or seek to promote any political or religious agenda or mission. We do, however, support programs that may be sponsored by or affiliated with religious groups. Our first priority is to help vulnerable children, elders, and families in the province of Azuay. We focus on supporting Ecuadorian organizations that share these same goals and values, independent of religious merits.
If you are interested in getting involved with Hearts of Gold, please fill out this Hearts of Gold Volunteer Application.
Make a contribution today to the work of Hearts of Gold. Our work is possible because of you.