About Us

Welcome to Hand in Hand Ministries

Hand in Hand Ministries knows these life-changing experiences are great teachers of compassion, generosity and knowledge of real needs and wants. People who volunteer with us are always inspired to do more. The energy is contagious. By lending a hand, you will be changing a life… and in most cases, it will be your own!

Learn more about our programs
Louisville Appalachia |Belize | Nicaragua 

Our Mission: We work hand in hand with individuals and communities to transform lives by responding to expressed needs through cultural immersion, education, housing and health care.

Our Vision: We seek to build community one person, one family at a time. Our ongoing programs provide access to quality education, safe housing and health care. Our immersion trips encourage individuals to deepen their perspective and realize their potential impact locally, regionally and globally.

Our Inspiration: We are an organization driven by faith in a loving God who embraces all people.

A Message from Marla

Dear Friends of Hand in Hand,


When I think of one story, one person who represents Hand in Hand for me, it’s Esmelda. We met several years ago while building her house in Nicaragua. We spent 5 days together, tying rebar, mixing concrete and laughing. I have seen her on every return visit to Managua.

Each time I visit I see improvements in her home, and personal growth for Esmelda and her children. While we were building her home, we dodged a rooster and barking dog when we used the bathroom out back. Now she has indoor plumbing and a beautiful little kitchen.

Her three kids are all thriving. Her oldest daughter, Arelys, now 22, became our first Pathway to Change student to graduate from college and is attending law school in Managua at the University of Central America in Managua. Helton, 20, graduated from high school, works full-time and is studying Graphic Design at the University de Valle in Managua on the weekends. Scarlett, her youngest, graduates in November and will attend University. Esmelda began taking sewing classes a few years ago, just for fun.

Everything this family has accomplished has been because of their tenacity and hard work, not ours. We have simply provided the fertile soil in which their dreams have taken root.

Hand in Hand’s role is to plant seeds of hope through education, housing and health care. Immersion trip volunteers assist us in planting and nurturing those seeds. Our hope, our dream, our mission is to see all of those seeds grow and flourish like Esmelda and her family.

I invite you to join us on this journey to empowerment.  The first step on that journey is to learn more about us by attending an Explore the Mission Tour. This one-hour interactive tour of our office and retreat center in West Louisville will not only inform but inspire you. Another option is to jump right in and join us for an immersion trip to one of our four locations. We’d love to have you attend our annual Legacy Breakfast, our most celebrated fundraising event of the year. You could even support our mission by going to our “donate now” page and making a financial contribution to our organization.

I do hope you’ll become a part of the Hand in Hand family as a donor, tripster, or ambassador. You can then plant your own seeds of hope. Those seeds have the power to change a life – even your own.

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Marla Cautilli, CEO of Hand in Hand Ministries

Who We Are and What We Do

On the surface, it looks like we build and repair homes, provide medical care and educate children and young adults. But it goes beyond that, way beyond that. We’re about connecting people – not through cell phones – but by working side by side with people who don’t look the same, talk the same or have the same amount of stuff.

We’re about crossing boundaries, and building compassion in one another by swinging a hammer, or blowing bubbles or clogging at Front Porch Pickin. We’re about recognizing and addressing needs – but we’re also about seeing resilience, beauty, and ingenuity, where others only see poverty. We’re about celebrating that which is good in all of us.

Our History and Founders

In 1999, brothers Wayne and Father Joe Fowler founded Hand in Hand Ministries in Louisville, KY. Originating in a church basement with an annual budget of just $26,000 with 100 supporters.

In November of 1994, Wayne visited an orphanage for handicapped and abandoned children in Kingston, Jamaica. The people of Jamaica touched his heart, but the conditions of the children’s orphanage and family living conditions were unimaginable. His first trip abroad not only changed the way he looked at himself but also how he viewed his country and the world. His life was forever transformed. Wayne and Father Joe began helping in small ways. In January 1997, Wayne led 29 people to Kingston for construction and medical work. Upon returning, the group hosted a potluck dinner for family and friends to share their stories and photos of their trip. More than 75 people showed up to experience the passion and excitement of the volunteers…and in many ways, that was how Hand in Hand Ministries was born.

Hand in Hand Ministries was incorporated in August 1999. With the brothers’ leadership and vision, Hand in Hand has continued to grow and has helped thousands of children, families and communities along the way.

Retired priest, Father Fowler, has stayed very active with Hand in Hand managing a weekly bingo that provides significant financial support and serving on the board of directors.

After a battle with cancer, Wayne died on March 3, 2016. His greatest legacy is compassion. And we will do all we can every day to ensure that vision lives on forever!

1999 Hand in Hand Ministries Founded
2000 Hand in Hand partners with organizations in Jamaica and Nicaragua
2001 First Immersion Trip to Nicaragua in response to Hurricane Mitch damage
2002 Belize Office Opens
2003 First Immersion Trip to Belize Builds House #1
2004 Outreach Center in Belize City, Belize Opens
2005 Managua, Nicaragua Office Opens
2006 Pathway to Change scholarship program begins in Nicaragua with three students
2007 The Auxier Center in Appalachia becomes part of Hand in Hand
2008 More than 400 volunteers participate in 45 immersion programs
2009 The Building for Change program builds its 125th house in Belize
2010 Belize Outreach Center begins mobile outreach to more than 50 families
2011 Belize Scholarship Program grows to 30 high school and college students
2012 Emergency tornado relief in Appalachia provided by the Auxier Center
2013 House #200 built in Belize; Pathway to Change in Nicaragua grown to 89 students
2014 More than 1,000 volunteers participate in 70 immersion trips changing the world
2015 Mentoring program for Louisville students begins; Building for Change house #250
2016 Awarded Leadership Louisville Ignite Team to pilot Louisville Urban Immersion program, Building for Change house #300
2017 Urban Immersion Begins. Headquarters moves to West Louisville
2018 Dedication of the Fowler Community Center
2019 Celebrated 20 years of Hand in Hand Ministries
Staff and Board of Directors
Louisville Staff: Main Office
518 N. 26th Street • Louisville, KY 40212 (Map) • Office: (502) 459.9930
 Fax: (502) 459.9945

Marla Cautilli
Tandee Ogburn
Director of Development
Allison Ridenour
Director of Immersion Trips
Susan Gerstle
Accounting Manager
LaToya Torrence Communications Manager LaToya@myhandinhand.org Megan Byler
Development Assistant
Rick Hall
Site Leader
Bill Wilson
Louisville Program Director
Appalachia Staff
21 S. River Street • Auxier, KY 41602 (Map) • Office: (606) 886.0709 • Fax: (606) 886.0973

Gail Spradlin
Director of the Auxier Center
Jackie Sammons
Construction Supervisor
Amy McCausland
Administrative Assistant
Gloria Powers
Housekeeping/Food Service
Mike Davis
Site Leader
Jerry Jones
Site Leader
Belize Staff
1 1/2 Miles George Price Highway • Belize City, Belize 
(Map) • Office: 011.501.610.6677 • Outreach Program: 011.501.610.1922 • Starfish House: 011.501.660.7875

Abel Vargas
Director of Operations
Maggie Vargas
Development Director
Rashida Bethran
Director of Building for Change Program
Nadia Armstrong
Director of the Outreach Center
James Muschamp
Immersion Trip Coordinator
Filiberto “Beto” Coc
Construction Supervisor
Luis Cho
Assistant Construction Supervisor
Nicaragua Staff
Office: Louisville Residents & North American Long Distance Access: 1 (502) 713 1233
Nicaragua: (011 505) 2265 8320 • Ed/Nicaragua # (011 505) 8849 5999 Barbara (001 505) 8853 9507

Edward T. Dunsworth
Director of Operations
Barbara J. Dunsworth
Assistant Director of Operations
Arlen del Socorro Bolaños
Pathway to Change Program Coordinator
Board of Directors
Harry Borders, Board Chair Borders and Borders Attorneys: Attorney
Ann Marie MaldiniBoard Vice Chair Executive Director: YPAL
Joseph LynchBoard Secretary Maryhurst: Counselor
Larry BloemerBoard Treasurer     Bloemer Foods
Scott Karem Mulloy & Karem: Partner
Courtney Baxter Commonwealth Attorney – Judicial Circuit
Kelley Helgeson President: H2R Consulting
Paul Hirn Abel Construction: Architect
Mike Potter Retired business owner, Flexowash
Shane Raymond Hilliard Lyons
Dr. Cindy Rigby Medical Examiner at Kentucky Retirement Systems
Deloris White Retried, community member
Tom Wittman Retired Independent Healthcare Consultant
Charisse Wright Nuestar Inc. Operations & Client Experience Manager
Reverend Joe Fowler Emeritus

Interested in joining our board? We are looking for a few good men and women to spread and support our mission. As a board member, you would be required to attend a bi-monthly board meeting, bi-monthly committee meeting, attend events throughout the year, assist with fundraising goals and make a personal contribution. Please contact Marla Cautilli at marla@myhandinhand.org or (502) 459.9930 for more information.

Informational Sessions: Explore the Mission Tour
Hand in Hand Ministries invites you to an “Explore the Mission” Tour to learn more about us, our work and how you can get involved! You will get a glimpse into the hearts and minds of individuals whose lives have been forever changed by the work of our volunteers and staff. We would love to answer all your burning questions.

“Explore the Mission” Tour
Meetings are at the Louisville Office • 518 N. 26th Street • Louisville, KY 40212
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Thursday, February 13 – 11:30 a.m.

Wednesday, March 18- 11:30 a.m.

Join us for a one-hour interactive, engaging tour of our building and programs!

Whether you are new to Hand in Hand’s mission or you simply want to learn more, this short program will help you understand the important work Hand in Hand is doing locally, regionally and internationally.

Invite your friends, colleagues, neighbors and family!

RSVP to Megan Byler at 502-459-9930 or megan@myhandinhand.org


Initially Hand in Hand operated out of a church basement with an annual budget of just $26,000 and about 100 supporters. We now have budgeted needs of over $1.5 million dollars annually and a database with nearly 14,000 constituents representing 34 states.

Hand in Hand receives no federal or state funding. We rely on support from individuals, foundations, educational institutions, churches and the business community.

CNPE Center for Nonprofit Excellence
The Center for Nonprofit Excellence was established in 1999 through the work of many. Chief among them was the Donors Forum of Kentuckiana, Metro United Way, and Metro Louisville.It was clear that the greater Louisville region of nonprofits needed a central point to access information, best practices, professional development, and hands-on consultation to help our sector reach its individual and collective aspirations. Nearly a decade later, our staff, board, and volunteers, continue to dream big and toil hard to provide that and bring our vision for a community that is vibrant, diverse, and compassionate into reality.
FREML Fund Raising Executives of Metro Louisville
The FUND RAISING EXECUTIVES of METRO LOUISVILLE (FREML) is a local organization of fund development-related professionals. It was established in 1983 to provide area fundraising executives with an opportunity to network with other fundraisers, and to provide educational programs on topics of professional interest.
AFP Association of Fundraising Professionals, Greater Louisville Chapter
A member organization of the Association of Fundraising Professionals, the Greater Louisville Chapter is the key resource for fundraising and nonprofit professionals in our region. At regular meetings of our chapter, members build relationships and learn best practices from other skilled nonprofit leaders. Our educational opportunities include regular meetings, Greater Louisville Philanthropy Day, audio conferences, and review for CFRE certification.
LeadershipLouisvilleCenter Leadership Louisville Center
The Leadership Louisville Center’s mission is to grow and connect a diverse network of leaders who serve as catalysts for a world-class community. We do this through leadership programs, events, training and member-oriented programming designed to inspire, challenge and connect people at all levels of leadership development.
ypal YPAL: Young Professionals Association of Louisville
The Young Professionals Association of Louisville (YPAL) provides leadership development, educational opportunities and philanthropic support to Louisville’s Young Professionals for the benefit of the local community. The mission of YPAL is to connect, engage and develop metro Louisville’s young professionals through community, professional and social opportunities.