RetailROI Helps Heal Honduras
By Cathy Marder
In February of 2011, a group of retail industry folks associated with Retail Orphan Initiative (RetailROI, www.retailroi.org) visited Plan Escalon, a school in La Entrada de Copan, Honduras that houses almost 600 children and students from ages 12-18. The school is the first and only in its class to bring help and hope to poverty-stricken youth (40% of whom are orphaned), breaking the perpetual cycle of poverty that looms over the nation of Honduras (a country with a 70% unemployment rate).
Starting with our trip in February, RetailROI and partner Lifesong for Orphans donated and installed a computer lab at the school that consisted of seven servers running MS Multipoint Server 2011 and 54 thin clients. The new labs were a big hit and a year later, the effect is obvious. Many juniors and seniors have rapidly expanded their computer technology knowledge and are planning to make it a lifelong career. In general, 47% of Plan Escalon graduates enter college (versus a national average of 1%).
This past April, a group of us went back to Plan Escalon. Those who made the trip included: Greg Buzek, president of IHL Group, and his mother Joan; Liz Moughan, director of marketing for Kronos and her 12 year old son, Jack; Genesco’s Randy Cucerzan, senior director of IT, and Cory McDermaid, senior manager of business systems; and myself. We went to observe the progress of the computer lab, install updates and learn what else we can do to help. We discovered an immediate need for a kitchen and new equipment, as the current kitchen is small and limited. The cooking process is laborious with old equipment that is often very dangerous.
Our new goal is to raise $100,000 by October 2012 for a new kitchen and a community center building that will replace the now “old circus style tent” where more than 650 people gather daily. The tent is in danger of falling down and has numerous leaks. The multi-purpose building would offer not only a place to meet, but also indoor sporting opportunities and eating facilities
I used to ask, Why Honduras? The reason is simple. It’s what presented itself at the time, and definitely presented itself to me. RetailROI has been involved in 40 different projects in the U.S. and around the world, impacting over 110,000 children in its first three years, including projects in Liberia, Cambodia Nepal, Uganda, Southern Sudan, China, Zambia and Mali. Here in the States, a foster care prevention program is now in 26 states where a $1,000 investment can transform to a $1.6 million savings to society. The purpose of this article is to raise awareness of the power of the retail industry and how we can work with RetailROI to help kids in need around the world.