Bottom of the Ninth

November 1st, 2004
by Thomas Tomczyk

[private] v2-13-Interview-Brad WarrenBrad Warren, 43, comes from Southern California where, for 11 years, he had a career as a motivational speaker. “I realized that attitude is everything and I got tired of being broke,” said Warren. In 1999, he participated in several mission trips bringing help to children in Kosovo, Ukraine and Russia. After two diving trips and a honeymoon on Roatan, Warren decided to come permanently to the island. In 2000, he founded “Child Sponsorship International,” a non-profit orphanage in Sandy Bay. The Warrens sold just about everything to fund their dream project, “We kept our wedding rings and an ’89 Mustang.”

On a 2.5 acre site, the organization built a 16,000 sq. ft. housing and school compound. The facility will eventually house 25 orphaned children. There are now five staff members who all pay to have the opportunity to work at the orphanage.

The orphanage offers 67 sponsorships at the Methodist Bilingual School in Coxen Hole and three at the Luisa Trudle Secretary’s School. At the same time, the non-profit organization is involved in distributing clothes to 400 Roatan families and offering free dental and health care to local children during visits of volunteer dental and medical professionals.

In the process of creating an orphanage, Warren undertook the project that now looks like one of the larger construction projects the Bay Islands have ever seen. He decided to construct an island field of dreams: a baseball field that would serve as a place to play little league ball, to learn social skills and create order in the lives of orphans and local kids. Comparable in scale with the Corosal garbage dump, sewage treatment plant and cruise ship dock, the 400′ “professional quality” baseball field had to deal with steep terrain, long rainy seasons and already-overworked construction companies.

Bay Islands VOICE: So, what did you do with the money Bill Gates’ wife gave you?
Brad Warren: I’m still looking for it. [smiling] We have so many bank accounts that we are still looking for it. But, seriously, two years ago someone told me Bill Gates was here on his boat and wrote us a check for a million dollars. I’m still looking for it.
B.I.V.: How do you support the orphanage?
B.W.: It’s all private donors: Christians and even non-Christians that believe in our work that the Lord is doing here. They are through one-time donations, fundraisers.
B.I.V.: What kind of revenue did you – “Child Sponsorship International”- have in 2003?
B.W.: Cash – $250,000. That’s not counting supplies, medicines, etc. In the total project, we probably invested around a million dollars. (…) That [26′ high, 200′ long retaining] wall right there to-date cost us $124,000 already and we’re not finished. This is just in the concrete work. Mayor Jerry Hynds asked us for a baseball field. And we’re going to construct a professional quality baseball field. Left field line is 315′, right field is 295′, center is about 400′. We’re talking high grade Bermuda baseball grass.
B.I.V.: How soon will the field be finished?
B.W.: We have the rainy season coming and we can’t plant the seed right now, or it would get washed off. I would like to be able to plant in March. We have a guy, one of our supporters, coming in who designs baseball fields for a living to make sure everything is just perfect. (…) We’re meeting with Minnesota Twins in November. (…) We’ve got the little league association that wants to get behind us and they will sanction a team for us.
B.I.V.: One of the more evident side effects of building the field was the run-off water from the two rain seasons onto the nearby beach and reef. Is this going to happen again this rainy season?
B.W.: No, because the field now is graded, leveled. We have invested $175,000 for concrete walls to stop run-off.
B.I.V.: Did you have neighbors talk to you about the run-off?
B.W.: Yes. We did absolutely everything that we could. Bulldozers would break on us. There were equipment problems. I’ve spent thousands of dollars to erect temporary walls to limit run-off. Every time it would rain, my stomach would get sick. We did the best that we could.
B.I.V.: How do you find the kids for the orphanage?
B.W.: We are registered with INFA, the governing body for orphanages in Honduras. They make us aware of the need. They are mostly from Roatan, except for a special-needs girl from Tela. She was a special situation. We’ve heard about a girl with Down ‘s syndrome living in a chicken coop and it was very clear we needed to do something about that. (…) Our focus here is to provide a loving Christian home for kids to be raised in. We want them to get a good solid foundation in character, Christ and education, so they can go ahead and, as a young adult, give back to the country that they are from. They can run for mayor; they can run for president, be a doctor, be a school teacher. We don’t classify ourselves as an institution, we’re a home. [/private]

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