His full name is Juan Manuel Guarin, of Colombian origin, born on July 26, 1979 in Cali (Valle del Cauca, Colombia). He studied primary through secondary school at the Santo Tomas de Aquino school in Bogota, where he graduated in 1996 at the age of 17. After rendering his mandatory military service in the National Police of Colombia for one year, he initiated college at the Colombian School of Engineering to pursue his dream of becoming an Industrial Engineer. In July of the year 2000, Juan traveled to the United States (Tucson, Arizona) to learn the English language and thus expand the possibilities of his field of work. In 2001 he traveled to the state of New Jersey to visit a friend without knowing he would meet the person who would later become his wife, Mary, and with whom he would later have two wonderful children.
In 2005, Juan enrolled in International Business studies at Ocean County Community College and in 2007 he joined Brookdale Community College to study Automotive Technology although his heart was taking a different direction towards his passion for helping the community. In 2005, he gave his life to the Lord Jesus Christ and began serving in a local church where he served in different areas of evangelism such as men’s ministry, marriage counseling, evangelistic radio, food pantry, and Bible teacher, among many other acts of service!! He would serve there for the next 10 years until 2015 when the Lord would guide him to start a new ministry in his own home. Two years later, in 2017, he joined the Church of Grace and Peace where he would serve as the Hispanic Pastor of that congregation along with his wife. This is where he would begin to work in a different capacity for the community by serving as bridge between the Hispanic immigrant community and government authorities hand in hand with different leaders of Ocean County clergy, Prosecutor’s Office, Sheriff, the Police Chiefs, Mayors, Senators, and congressmen. It is for this reason, in the year 2017 the nonprofit organization, Community Ambassadors, was established to improve the quality of life of the Latino immigrant by bringing their voice to the ears of the authorities so that their needs are made known. Community Ambassadors reflects Juan’s personal dream creating and maintaining closer and more trusting relationship between the Latino community and the different government entities by addressing issues and conditions that cause people to refrain from being an active part of their community.
Mary Guarin immigrated to the United States from Ecuador, South America, with her parents and sisters at the young age of seven. As a graduate of Brick Memorial High School, Mary pursued collegiate studies in Elementary and Special Education at Monmouth University. In 2006, responding to a passion for maintaining equity in curriculum and instruction within urban education, Mary earned a Master’s Degree in Educational Leadership and Administration from Georgian Court University.
For over 13 years, Mary has served Ocean County families from diverse socioeconomic, professional, cultural and ethnic backgrounds through community-based, grassroots, nonprofit organizations in the areas of education, immigration, and health. Mary has served our New Jersey Public Schools in the capacity of Teacher, Literacy Coach, Curriculum Writer and Assistant Principal. As curriculum writer, Mary contributed to the work of aligning curriculum to the Common Core Standards and building the capacity of teachers in the instruction of Reading and Writing. As staff developer, she has built learning communities around a deep understanding of cultural diversity going beyond race and ethnicity. Her work has focused on the importance of understanding of the process of migration and the reason families migrate to understand the acculturation process.
Mary’s advocacy work in education and social justice includes collaboration with Latin American Legal Defense Fund (LALDEF) and New Jersey Dream Act Coalition to support New Jersey aspiring college students in obtaining in-state tuition fees at Ocean County College. In addition, Mary’s public service and leadership in bridging resources to communities extends to Latin American embassy work. Between the years 2012-2015, Mary worked alongside the Philadelphia Mexican Consulate to establish a sustained relationship with Ocean County residents of Mexican decent. For the first time, in 2011 the embassy became directly involved in social issues and education.
Maintaining a proactive approach in addressing concerns affecting the Latino community of Ocean County, Mary, together with her husband, founded Community Ambassadors in 2017. The non-profit organization is purposed to serve as the bridge that unites municipalities to the realities of life in Ocean County for the immigrant population. Collaborative work with the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office, Sherriff’s Office, Police Department, Mayors, Senators, Congressmen, and Immigration and Customs Enforcement Representatives continues to spearhead the advocacy effort of responding to the immediate needs of the community.
Mary resides in South Toms River with her husband, Juan, and two children. Mary and Juan currently serve as Hispanic Pastors at the Church of Grace and Peace.
Judy is a community leader currently working at Community Ambassadors to bring help to the latin American community with various issues specific to that population group. Some of these include: Access to the healthcare system, navigating the court system and other community agencies, interpreting/translating and bringing overall awareness about the plight that some individuals in this group are experiencing.
Judy is currently working on a multi media project in an effort to visually/orally express the current culture of immigration specifically impacting the immigrants of Ocean County, NJ.
Judy believes that the work that she does in the community is necessary in order for many to have a voice where silence and fear would otherwise prevail. One of her goals is to attract others with similar concerns to participate in this worthwhile endeavor. She has been successful in her work with youth, where her counseling has been effective in preventing adjudications of first time non violent offenders. This work has permitted youth to begin mental health services or enter drug treatment rehabilitation, thus by giving youth a much needed second chance. Judy’s strength lies in her ability to connect with people with her unique combination of gregariousness, humor and firmness.
Judy truly wants people to succeed and this passion is evident as she works with children, adolescents and families on their intensive case management needs. Some of these include: educational re-entry for high school dropouts, alternative educational placement, employment preparedness, as well as individual and group counseling for men, women and adolescents in the areas of anger management and domestic violence.
Judy is certified in Classroom, Culture and Community Based Intervention (CBI), Skills for Psychological Recovery (SPR), Sources of Strength Peer Leader Program (SOS) and More than Sad Suicide Awareness Program (MTS). She has had extensive counseling training including: Context Centered Family Systems Counseling Model in Family Dynamics, Social Justice in Clinical Practice: Family Consultations in Urban
Schools, Racial/Contextual Thinking, Racial Micro Aggressions in Everyday Life, Cultural Sensitivity, Spirituality and Religion as Sources of Strength, to name a few.
Judy has also worked in promotions and publicity with Hard Rock Cafe International and Planet Hollywood. She is the recipient of various awards, certificates and honors for her work with youth and public relations, and holds a degree in Criminology from John Jay College of Criminal Justice in NYC.