Our Story

The Maria Lida Foundation is named in loving honor and memory of Maria Lida Toledo Benalcazar de O’Neill. Maria Lida was born and raised in Alausí, Ecuador and is the grandmother of Shannon Turner, Maria Lida Foundation’s CEO and Founder.

Maria Lida was known for her strong faith in Christ and charitable actions towards all people. In the hopes of offering her children a quality education, Maria Lida immigrated to the United States with her family in the late 1950s. Her courage and sacrifices of moving her family overseas allowed her children and grandchildren the opportunity to obtain education and success in America.

Although she lived in the United States during the final years of her life, Maria Lida never forgot about her beloved town of Alausí, Ecuador.

Shannon Turner, Maria Lida’s granddaughter, created the Maria Lida Foundation in May 2018 after graduating with a Master of Business Administration degree from Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri. She was inspired to use the education she received to help alleviate poverty that many people experience in and near her family’s hometown.Throughout her time as a business school student, Shannon worked on building a venture that would promote economic development in Alausí.

The Maria Lida Foundation was created with support of Maria Lida’s family to honor her charitable nature and give back to her roots.