In 2001, our founder Janet Townsend, a retired social worker, decided she wanted to make a real difference to the world in a meaningful way. Her love of the Mayan culture in Central and South America led her to work in Guatemala with the Mayan people in the areas of health and education.

Jan set out to form teams of like-minded, adventurous people seeking the challenge of helping others in a different culture while learning about that culture. In 2005, the Hearts & Hands Foundation was registered as a charitable society based in Canmore, Alberta in Canada’s Rocky Mountains.

Our mission is to enhance the quality of life of the Mayan people through sustainable programs in health and wellness, infrastructure, and education. Programs delivered by volunteers and Guatemalans ensure cross-cultural understanding and promote mutual respect.

We believe:

  • In preserving the integrity and culture of the Mayan people and their communities.

  • In Guatemalans helping Guatemalans.

  • That the situation in the developing world is critical and the window of opportunity is now.


Corazones y Manos:

Corazones y Manos was introduced as a sister organization to Hearts & Hands in 2009. The mandate of Corazones y Manos is to manage all Hearts & Hands programs and staff in Guatemala. Guided by a Board of Directors in Guatemala, the organization is under the direction of the President of the Hearts & Hands Foundation, Jan Townsend.

Jan has earned a number of prestigious awards over the years. Here are some recent accolades:

Bow Valley Women of Distinction Award 

Jan received a Bow Valley Women of Distinction Award from the YWCA Banff on March 8, 2017. This annual award recognizes three local women who "through their own initiative, ability and effort have demonstrated exemplary achievement in their fields. These women are outstanding role models and an inspiration. They have made substantial contributions to the social fabric of our community in unique ways." 

Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal 

Jan was honoured in January 2013 with the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal for her outstanding work in Guatemala. 

Paul Harris Fellow Award 

Jan was honoured on March 18, 2011 by being named a Paul Harris Fellow by the President of the Rotary Club of Calgary West, Saadat Keshavjee, for her efforts in the partnership between the Hearts & Hands Foundation and the club in building schoolrooms in Mayan villages of Guatemala. A Paul Harris fellow is the highest Rotary honour that can be awarded to local, national or world leaders who uphold the Rotary ideal of "Service Above Self."  

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