About Us

About Friends of FUNDAL

Friends of FUNDAL is a nonprofit incorporated organization based in North Carolina. The IRS has granted FOF status as a tax-exempt public charity under section 501(c)(3) of the IRS code, effective back to June 18, 2009.

This organization will raise awareness in the United States of the needs in Guatemala and raise funds for organizations and programs that care for, train and education children, adolescents and adults with deafblindness or multiple disabilities in Guatemala. FUNDAL. All money raised will go to the general FOF fund. FOF will use a grant process to award monies, including accountability measures. Additionally, this organization will explore the idea of funding working vacations or internships of people in relevant fields, and raising funds for staff development and training at FUNDAL and other organizations serving the target population.

After an incredible visit volunteering in 2007 at FUNDAL, a nongovernmental nonprofit school program focussing on deafblind children in Guatemala, Grace Bullen was inspired to start this organization to further the education and training of children and adolescents with deafblindness and multiple disabilities in Guatemala. A little over a year later, in November 2008, a small group of interested people met in Raleigh, N.C. to start working on a strategic plan to create a support organization for FUNDAL.

Many of of us were from St. Mark's Episcopal Church in Raleigh and included people who know little about deafblindness or Guatemala, but are interested in empowering vulnerable children and their families. Other initial participants in setting up Friends of FUNDAL included an in-law of the Bonilla family, a social worker who is deafblind, a young adult with mild deafblindness and other disabilities, two experienced professionals who are also mothers of Guatemalan-born daughters, and an outreach teacher from the local school for blind students. Many people who cannot attend Friends of FUNDAL meetings support the group by helping with information, referrals, food, and ideas, and include a regional consultant in deafblindness in North Carolina and the mother of an adult son with deafblindness and multiple disabilities. With the help of a consultant who works with nonprofits, we started crafting our vision for Friends of FUNDAL.

Over time, our vision expanded from helping just FUNDAL to providing consultation, resources, and funds to whatever services, programs and organizations in Guatemala work with young people with deafblindness and multiple disabilities. We continue to be inspired by FUNDAL, but are excited by this broader vision that will give us more flexibility for making an impact in a wide range of locations and situations in Guatemala. Another change is that we have moved from thinking primarily in terms of a sponsorship model, to thinking primarily in terms of a simple grant process model. This process gives FOF more control over what funds are used for, and provides more accountability.

We are excited to be moving into the next phase of our work. Check the News section of our website for periodic updates!

Board of Directors

Current Directors


  • Sandy Roux Fitzgerald, MSN, Chair

    Sandra (Sandy) Roux Fitzgerald
    Sandra (Sandy) Roux Fitzgerald, MSN
    Retired Nurse
    Cary, NC

    Sandy is a retired psychiatric nurse with more than 47 years of nursing experience – including the past 20 years working in Community Mental Health. Sandy is a passionate traveler and especially enjoys “back to basics” travel in developing countries. In 2015, she spent a month in Guatemala, including a visit to FUNDAL. Sandy has volunteered, in one capacity or another, for most of her life.

  • Grace E. Bullen, Vice Chair

    Grace Bullen
    Grace E. Bullen, MPH, CSC, COMS
    Raleigh, NC
    Sorenson Communications, Video Relay Interpreter
    Certified Orientation and Mobility Specialist in private practice

    Grace serves as a sign language interpreter, working both in the community and for a video relay service and specializes in working with deafblind consumers. She has more than 25 years of volunteer experience with the N.C. Deaf-Blind Associates (a consumer group) and is the adoptive parent of a Guatemalan-born daughter who has visual, hearing and other disabilities.

  • Deb Smith, Treasurer

    Deb Smith
    Deborah S. Smith
    Raleigh, NC

    Deborah has more than 25 years working in the telecommunications industry. She brings leadership experience in engineering, marketing, customer service and sales operations to the organization. She has recently returned to school to obtain her Master's Degree in Accounting.

  • Janice A. Freedman, Secretary

    Janice Freedman
    Janice A. Freedman, MPH
    Raleigh, NC
    North Carolina Healthy Start Foundation
    Executive Director

    Janice has more than 25 years working in the nonprofit sector, 12 years as the executive director of a statewide agency. She has expertise in program and financial management, human resources, working with nonprofit boards and media relations. She is the adoptive mother of two children born in Guatemala.


  • Michele Hughes

    Michele Hughes
    Michele Hughes
    Durham, NC

    Michele is the proud adoptive mother to a wonderful son born in Guatemala. Her background includes teaching, sales, and being a small business owner. Michele was inspired by Wynn Cherry to join the FOF board.

  • Mike Sanderson


Former Directors

  • Ashley Benton

    Ashley Benton
    Ashley Benton, MSW, LCSW
    Knightdale, NC
    Wake County Human Services, Deaf Services
    Mental Health and Substance Abuse Therapist

    Ashley is deafblind and works as a mental health and substance abuse therapist for the deaf, hard of hearing and deafblind community. She is an advocate for the deafblind community and serves on several boards and committees: the N.C. Council for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, N.C. Interpreters and Transliterators Licensing Board, National Task Force on Deaf-Blind Interpreting and the Persons with Functional and Access Needs Committee.

  • Eugene Bourquin

    Gene Bourquin
    Eugene (Gene) A. Bourquin, DHA, MA
    New York City, NY
    Helen Keller National Center for Deaf-Blind Youths and Adults
    Senior Instructor

    Gene is a nationally certified mobility specialist, low vision therapist and interpreter. He holds a doctorate degree in health administration and a master's in deafness rehabilitation. He has worked with people who are deaf-blind for over twenty years, and has lectured and conducted research in the U.S. and around the world.

  • Wynn Cherry, Chair

    Wynn Cherry
    Winifred (Wynn) Cherry, PhD
    Durham, NC
    Retired Educator

    Wynn taught English and Latin at Broughton High School in Raleigh, N.C. for many years and worked to develop the International Baccalaureate Program there. She coordinated many international service projects with students including Proyecto Quetzal, a travel/study/service program to Guatemala. Wynn was the adoptive parent of two children born in Guatemala. While Chair of FOF, Wynn died December 22, 2015. Donations made in her memory will be used for a special grant to FUNDAL. Wynn was a creative, resourceful, and enthusiastic leader, and we miss her.

  • Kimberly Harrell

    Kimberly Harrell
    Kimberly Harrell, BS, AS
    Raleigh, NC
    Regional Deaf-blind Specialist
    N.C. Division of Services for the Blind

    Kim has worked with people with deafblindness since 1988, first at the Rehabilitation Center for the Blind in North Carolina and since 2008 as the Regional Deaf-blind Specialist in the Raleigh area. She provides employment, independent living and other services to people with deafblindness in 17 counties; runs a bimonthly support group; and is active with the N.C. Deaf-Blind Associates and the annual Camp Dogwood Deaf-Blind Weekend.

  • Franklin Ingram

    Franklin Ingram
    Franklin W. Ingram, M.Div.
    Raleigh, NC
    Retired from the nonprofit sector

    Franklin brings more than thirty-five years of executive leadership in public and nonprofit substance abuse, developmental disabilities, mental health and criminal justice treatment services. His areas of expertise include: creating collaborative partnerships, networking and implementing best practices. Franklin has served on numerous advisory groups and boards, and is a past member of the United Way of the Greater Triangle board.

  • Wendy Quirk-Schuett, Wake Forest, NC

  • Rosalina Roa, Morrisville, NC

  • Helen L. Schwall

    Helen L. Schwall
    Helen L. Schwall
    Cary, NC
    Retired Educator

    Helen taught for 39 years in the Raleigh, NC and Wake County schools including 33 years at Broughton High School and its International Baccalaureate Program. She was involved in Proyecto Quetzal, a student travel/study/service program to Guatemala. She has traveled to Guatemala numerous other times to take donations and to volunteer at Hermano Pedro Hospital in Antigua. In 2013 Helen visited FUNDAL's new school in Mixco.


The Mission of Friends of FUNDAL is to improve the quality of life in Guatemala for children with deafblindness and multiple disabilities, and their families, by raising awareness, providing financial support, developing resources, and supporting services, programs and organizations that care for, educate and train children, adolescents and young adults with deafblindness and multiple disabilities, and their families.


The goals of Friend of FUNDAL are to:

  • Raise awareness so people or organizations can provide funds and/or resources for services, programs and organizations working with children, adolescents and young adults with deafblindness and multiple disabilities.

  • Identify our funding priorities, implement a grant process that includes accountability by grant recipients, and develop systems and strategies for fundraising accordingly.

  • Identify existing organizations that already have expertise useful to FUNDAL and other organizations serving the target population.

  • Develop networks and partnerships with groups and organizations in the United States that share an interest in helping educate youth with disabilities in Guatemala.

  • Identify existing organizations that already have expertise useful to FUNDAL and other organizations serving the target population.

  • Establish clear communication systems internally, and with organizations we partner with and/or provide support to.

  • Study logistics issues and plan accordingly.

Annual Reports