Kids Matter International (KMI), a faith-based US non-profit beginning work in Roatan held three March events to raise funds and awareness of their planned Lighthouse Home for Girls. This shelter for girls at risk of violence and abuse is planned to be constructed on donated land near the Springfield Condominium development in Los Fuertes. KMI directors promise to work closely with local community groups, churches and Honduran law-enforcement agencies.
Collin Fullilove, project director, and fellow project coordinator Courtney Lenox, wrote the proposal for the home six months ago. Since then the group has partnered with a range of Roatan businesses and leaders, secured a land donation in Los Fuertes and, according to Fullilove, has raised around $30,000 in donations.
Around 25 KMI board members, guests, donors and their spouses flew in to Roatan on a private jet on to attend a March 6 invitation-only dinner and auction at Infinity Bay. The participants bid on items ranging from $8,000 Diamonds International jewelry pieces to $250,000 Lawson Rock condominiums, with part of the profits going to KMI.
On March 7, KMI organized a community day at Gumbalimba Park, with tickets sold to businesses then given away to local families and children. Over 60 volunteers managed ticketing, cooking and serving food. “I found out about KMI at the Flowers Bay kids’ party and I feel good helping”, said Lisa, one of the local volunteers. Around 200 attendees were treated to a helicopter rides and country and western music by a Willie Nelson tribute artist.
A week later KMI introduced the master plans for its project to a small group of visitors, including US ambassador Hugo Lorens. The girl’s home site is next to Springfield Condominiums, whose owner Kerwin Woods has donated a 25 year lease on land to house the project.
It isn’t always easy for KMI to work on the island. Since Child Sponsorship International, a Sandy Bay orphanage nonprofit, disintegrated in 2007 and is under investigation for abuse of children and mis-use of funds, some Roatanians are skeptical and a bit suspicious of any new nonprofits coming to the island. “We’ve had to let people know that we’re serious and can be trusted”, said Lenox. “We’ll be posting all of our accounts online for everyone to see as soon as we find the time.”
KMI’s CEO Joe King, a Washington lobbyist now living in Texas, says the group has paid all its expenses out of member’s personal funds, or money raised in the US. “Every dollar raised here (on Roatan) will stay here,” King said, and Lenox confirmed that the group won’t be recouping its setup costs from funds raised on Roatan. [/private]