Hospitality Builds Community: A Letter from Jean & Doug Knudson

Dear Corazon Family and Friends,

Corazon has been blessed with bountiful cadres of volunteers—individuals and groups— that have helped advance Corazon's mission to serve the poor through our home builds and other charitable works. Corazon's success stories overflow about people who have shared in the spirit of service and gratitude.

Doug and Jean exemplify such a spirit; they have been volunteering with Corazon for over 20 years.  While most of our sponsors and volunteers build a family's first home on a scheduled weekend, Doug and Jean are weekday warriors, building room additions, bathrooms, and repairing roofs in Tijuana and Tecate.  And, they do it with heart. We are grateful to them for raising funds and working tirelessly, week after week to lead Corazon home improvements.  Here is their heartwarming story.



A Letter from the Jean and Doug Knudson

With money donated from a collection of sponsors, Doug and I built a bathroom addition for an 87-year-old lady in Tijuana, Mexico.  On a sunny cold winter day in Tijuana, we met Maria Teresa, better known as Teresita.  Doug and I, and a team of Mexican Corazon volunteers from her Cumbres neighborhood, gathered together to build for Teresita.

Teresita was an orphan who never married.  She lives in a 12 by 12-foot one-room house with an outhouse and a garden in the back.

She used to sell cookies and granola bars in downtown Tijuana, and she was twice hit by a car and narrowly escaped serious injury. Now nearly blind, it is too dangerous for her to venture outside of her neighborhood. Teresita has been a Corazon volunteer for over 20 years, babysitting children in the Cumbres community center. Through her dedicated service, Teresita earned enough volunteer points at the Corazon community center that she was selected for a home improvement project.

Her one-room house would soon become a two-room house.  We connected a bathroom to her small space.  Now Teresita wouldn’t have to go out in the dark at night to go to the bathroom.


Below is a picture of me with Teresita.  We are sitting on the edge of her bed talking, a bed that also serves as a sofa, a kitchen sitting area, and takes up almost half the space of her neatly arranged one-room house.  She is telling me the story of Sarah and Abraham (Genesis 18:1-8).

Teresita first told me that she grew up in the countryside where the darkness at night intensified the brilliance and the number of stars in the sky. Teresita then weaved in the story of Abraham and Sarah (Genesis 18:1-8) and the hospitality they offered to three traveling strangers.  The strangers told Abraham and Sarah that they would receive blessings, as many as the stars in the skies.  Teresita likened the gift she was given that day, as a stranger, who won the generosity of people like Abraham and Sarah.

Teresita prayed that God's blessings to us would be as numerous as the stars in the sky.

I was struck by the beauty of this simile.  I will always carry those words in my heart.


Jean and Doug Knudsen


Abraham and Sarah’s hospitality (Genesis 18:1-8) provides insight into how strangers reap a deeper understanding of each other by working side by side.  By extending hospitality and kindness toward others, and embracing and welcoming the differences of someone we did not know, we can transform relationships into a community. It is in this kind of human interconnectedness that we find hope. It is with faith in our relationships that we can build a better community. Let us all welcome strangers. 

Let us all help create solutions and find ways— large and small— to alleviate poverty and build community with our neighbors in Mexico.

Heartfelt Blessings to All,

Louise Hernandez

Executive Director