Meet the Team
John and Maritza Hernandez- Founders and Directors
John and Maritza Hernandez are the Founders and Directors of Children’s Impact Network. They have dedicated their lives to rescue abandoned, abused, and neglected children. They founded Metro Ministries in 1990. After working in the inner cities of Philadelphia and Miami for many years, their hearts were moved in 1999 to start Children’s Impact Network. While in Bolivia, after traveling there to train missionaries, pastors, and leaders, they witnessed for the first time children living in the streets whom absolutely no one cared for. This experience stirred them to rescue children first in Bolivia and now in Honduras. The children lovingly call them Mama Maritza and Papa John.
They also founded Safehouses in Colombia for the windows and children of Martyred Pastors; providing a safe refuge and healing for their lives. Their work has also expanded to Cuba and Chile as well.
John and Maritza have three biological children: John, Natalie, and Nicole. Raising their children and serving alongside them in the ministry has been a great joy for them.
Both John and Maritza are ministers. They frequently speak at conferences, universities, churches, businesses, and other organizations.
Melvin and Mary Flores- Honduras Field Directors
Mary and Melvin Flores were first introduced to CIN through the acquaintance of John and Maritza Hernandez back in 2007 when they came to Honduras to explore potential partnerships with other organizations and ministries. After helping them to organize with some particular projects and activities in Honduras, we learned about the great potential and the commitment to establish a solid and permanent program in Honduras, particularly for orphans. So it was in September of 2011 that Mary and Melvin became the Field Coordinators for the Honduras Life Center. Both of them were born in Christian homes and since childhood have marked their lives for a life of service and ministry work. Prior to joining CIN, Melvin was involved with other international ministries and organizations such as Habitat For Humanity as the director, founder and director of Salt and Light Ministry in Honduras and co-founder in Honduras of Friends of Barnabas Foundation. Their passion to lead people to Christ and to lead people to enjoy a better quality of life today while longing for eternity has been in their hearts making a difference in bringing the gospel of Jesus Christ in tangible ways and from a holistic approach. Holding an undergraduate degree in International development and a master degree in Business Administration and lately with Seminary Theological studies have been the perfect formula to combine it with our faith and commitment to Christ and to people to make a difference in this lost word.
Gerson and Allie Gabriel- Bolivia Field Directors
Allie Gabriel was first introduced to CIN on a short-term mission trip to Bolivia with her youth group in 2004. Upon graduating college, she started full-time as CIN’s Missions and Communications Coordinator. Gerson and Allie met in Bolivia, and married in 2012. They have been living at the BLC orphanage since 2013. Today, Gerson and Allie direct all CIN ministries in Bolivia as the Bolivia Field Directors(which includes village evangelism, the Bolivia Life Center, the LIFEhouse and other projects). Gerson and Allie love connecting churches and individuals from the states with CIN’s life centers. They also love joining the teams in their mission as they serve and make an impact. Gerson is also serving as the BLC’s pastor and overseeing the spiritual area of the boys lives. He also oversees the Sidewalk Sunday School program when the US mission teams are visiting.
Mauricio and Laura Bunch- Colombia Field Directors
Mauricio and Laura Bunch got involved with CIN at the beining of 2010, when John and Maritza Hernandez began starting different projects in Colombia. On the year of 2011 the SAFEhouse program began- a mission to care for the widows and families of martyred pastors.
As the Field Coordinators in Colombia, they serve in projects in Colombia for different churches and pastors that are in the “red zone”. This includes the SAFEhouse program for the widows and families of the martyred pastors and the Pastors’ Colombia Conference. They also serve as associate pastors in El Pacto Church in Bogota, Colombia (a CIN partner church). Mauricio is working on his bachelor in theology, and Laura is a lawyer, but the burden that the Lord has placed on both their hearts is the persecution and difficulties the church is facing in the country, and the need of showing God´s love to the people of Colombia. They have been blessed with two daughters.
John Paul Hernandez Jr. - Operations Administrator
Growing up in the ministry, John Paul Hernandez Jr. has been blessed to experience God’s love on the mission field. After years of John Jr. spending his summers in Bolivia and Honduras, he had the amazing opportunity to join CIN’s staff. John enjoys serving with CIN as the Operations Administrator, and serving on the mission fields in the summers.
As the Operations Administrator, John leads projects, develops programs and processes, coordinates budgets, and serves at the CIN South Florida office. John Jr. earned his bachelor’s from Florida Atlantic University and his MBA at Palm Beach Atlantic University, Spring 2016.
John has enjoyed serving alongside his team members in fulfilling the mission God has for CIN, and the children and lives impacted by what God has done.
Ashlen Polonia - Gift Management Coordinator
Ashlen Lyerla joined the CIN team in 2015. Before serving with CIN, she hosted mission trips to the Dominican Republic on a regular basis. She is fluent in Spanish and enjoys serving as a translator while on the mission field. Ashlen has been raised in a family of ministry. Her parents are church planters and current pastors in South Florida. She has been on many missions trips with her local church. Ashlen has a big heart for missions and outreaches, especially in Spanish-speaking countries. Her heart is working with children; and she traveled to the Honduras Life Center in July, 2015 to meet the wonderful children and staff there. She also has a passion to connect English-only and Spanish-only speaking team members through translation, helping them serve together in unity. Ashlen is serving as the Gift Management Coordinator, where she develops relationships with donors and friends of the ministry.
Natalie Hernandez - Mission Team Coordinator
Natalie Hernandez joined the CIN staff in 2015, though has felt like she has been on staff her whole life! She has had the privilege of traveling with her family doing mission work since she was born. She graduated from Florida Atlantic University with a degree in Elementary Education, Fall 2016. She has a passion for the Lord, people, missions, and the church. She loves interacting and leading mission teams.
Natalie is passionate about leading young adults to fully experience all that God has for them during Summer Missionary Internships. She looks after any events or projects that require the needs of local volunteers. Natalie is excited and looking forward to all that God is going to continue to do through Children’s Impact Network, and is so honored to have a front row seat!
Dany Alvarenga -Multimedia Coordinator
With Pastors as parents, Dany grew up serving in his church in Honduras. His first found passion in the Mission Field was as a musician and worship leader. He spent four years serving with missionary teams and organization in Honduras.
Dany started with Children’s Impact Network in May, 2015. That same summer Dany joined the Missionary Team where he served as a language Interpreter. He enjoyed his experience because of his endearing love for children and his immense desire to serve those in need. Dany is currently majoring in Graphic Design and attends college on the weekends whereas he anticipates a 2018 graduation.
Dany serves as the Multimedia Coordinator. He works as a photographer, graphic designer, and designs video projects. He continues to serve alongside missionary teams in Honduras through CIN.
Sammi Jo Sharp- Communications Coordinator
After visiting the Bolivia Life Center for the first time in 2015, Sammi Jo knew her life was going to look much different than she had originally planned. Sammi Jo serves as the Communications Coordinator, traveling to CIN’s Mission Fields, hosting and inviting mission teams to experience and make a difference in the lives of God’s children. As the Communications Coordinator, she grows relationships with CIN’s supporters and partners in order to maximize the impact to reach and rescue God’s children through CIN. Serving on the mission field has been the wildest dream come true and she is expectant for what the Lord has in store for the future.