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Austin’s Roatan Connection

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Philanthropic outreach from The Nobelity Project and the Abundant Life Foundation touches the lives of many.

Although Roatan may be a small island located just off the coast of mainland Honduras that many people have never heard of, the Austin philanthropic connection to Roatan makes a large impact, especially for children.

The Nobelity Project and the Sandcastle Bookmobile

Screen Shot 2015-03-02 at 10.44.40 PMATX Man’s spring 2012 cover man, Turk Pipkin, is dedicated to improving the lives of Roatan’s children by providing access to books. He shares with ATX Man the story of his involvement with and connection to the tiny island.

“I was first invited to Roatan to consider ways to help out with the terrible education system there. I’d helped found a golf tourney in Cabo San Lucas, which was very successful for an orphanage there, so I started with the idea of music and golf. School visits with the founders of Pristine Bay and with Sandcastle Library Founder Cam O’Brien revealed pretty much no books, a situation Cam hoped to remedy with a bookmobile.

“It was our standard partnership operation. Cam found and bought an old Blue Bird school bus on the mainland of Honduras and brought it out by ferry. The Nobelity Project put up initial funding to rip out the seats, build bookshelves, etc., and we ran an online art competition to design the bus. First prize was a trip to Roatan and the honor of painting a huge bus in hot weather. Austin artist Baylor Estes [had]our winning design, and Baylor and Katie Rose Pipkin did most of the painting, with some assistance from [my wife,]Christy, and me, Marc and Suzanne Winkelman, and Rick and Karen Hawkins. (Both couples were our first big funders for the bus.) “We also did a book drive in Austin, our usual request for favorite books, with a personal note, ‘No junk.’ We shipped two pallets of really great books we collected, and are always looking for more Spanish-language books, which are in great need and hard to find.

“Cam and many others on the island tell me often that the bookmobile has changed the face of education, provided a visible face for education on the island. When kids and parents see that colorful bus rolling down the highway, they take pride in their schools and in the opportunity to have great books to read.Screen Shot 2015-03-02 at 10.44.52 PM

“We hope to launch a second bookmobile someday, possibly a smaller one that can reach more isolated schools, but are focusing now on keeping this one funded, particularly the salaries for the quality teachers who ride on the bus and are visiting instructors in the classrooms while other kids are selecting books to check out on the bus.”

Abundant Life Foundation and St. Helene

What was meant to be a family vacation almost nine years ago turned into a long-lasting connection with and commitment to Roatan and St. Helene when Brenda and David Dachner fell in love with an island and its people. ATX Man asked them to share their journey.

“Our remarkable journey began in 2006 with a simple family vacation that has resulted in the building of two elementary schools, a micro- business for an entire community and a unique twist on an affordable housing project. Along the way on our third-world adventure, we have met and worked with a variety of wonderful people from all walks of life, including two Honduran presidents and a first lady.

“The Abundant Life Foundation (ALF) is a 501(c)3 organization with a mission to empower individuals, families and communities to believe in themselves by providing resources that help them help themselves. We fund programs that encourage independence, build self-worth, promote empowerment, teach responsibility, advance human achievement and reduce poverty. However people, whether individuals or groups, must have some financial, material or labor contribution in order for ALF to provide support. We strongly adhere to the policy that unconditional charity is no solution to poverty. Our intent is to empower those in need and help them believe in their natural ability and gifts.

“Our primary initiatives in Roatan are to help with education, develop micro-businesses and build sustainable communities through joint collaboration projects.

“After four years of work in education, a children’s home and building a strong foundation in relationships, in 2009, we were asked to build a school on the remote island of St. Helene, east of Roatan, to replace the one they were using made of bamboo and a dirt floor. With a commitment from the islanders to keep their community clean as their contribution, we built a school. This month, they began their fifth year of classes in the new three-room, cement-block schoolhouse, with roughly 60 students in grades kindergarten through 6th.

Screen Shot 2015-03-02 at 10.47.05 PM“In getting to know the community more intimately, we saw the need for jobs, particularly for the women. In 2012, we showed the women how to crochet items out of plastic grocery bags, and since that time, have sold over $12,000 worth of crocheted plastic purses with 100 percent of that money going back to them: 90 percent to the person who made the bag and 10 percent into a treasury for them to do with as they collectively see fit for their community. It’s been amazing
 to see these women grow in confidence and grace as they’ve found a way to help provide
for their families!

“Our biggest current endeavor is our afford-
able housing project, called Los Sueños. Together with the Grand Roatan Resort, we have commit- ted to building affordable—not free—homes for deserving families on the island. In the center of this 100-home planned community, we built our second three-room schoolhouse, which opened this month, with 60 students. Next year, three more rooms will be added, making this a kindergarten through 12 school.

“At ALF, our goal is not to change the world but to help others change their own world. Come join our efforts by contacting us at abundantlifefoundation. org, or follow our efforts at, or stay with us at”

 Want To Make the Roatan Connection?

The Nobelity Project has partnered with the Pristine Bay Resort to host The Pirate’s Cup at Roatan Island. Play three rounds at the exclusive Pete Dye-designed Black Pearl Golf Course in this international tournament happening April 30 through May 3. Funds raised from the event will support the Sandcastle Bookmobile.

For more information, email, or visit


I Live Here, I Give Here: Amplify Austin

March 5 and 6, 6p.m. (24-hour online giving event)

Austin Classical Guitar: Beijing Guitar Duo

March 7, 8 p.m., GT Austin, 2700 Northland Drive

ATX Man Golf Classic: 18 Holes for 18 Charities

March 27, River Place Country Club,
 4207 River Place Blvd.

Center for CHILD protection:Ride.Drive.Give

March 30, Circuit of the Americas, 9201 Circuit of the Americas Blvd.

Mack, Jack & McConaughey (MJ&M)

April 16 and 17, various locations

Austin Classical Guitar And Conspirare: How Little You Are

April 18, 8 p.m., Bass Concert Hall, 2350 Robert Dedman Drive

Center for CHILD protection:
 NFL Alumni Golf Classic

April 30, The Hills of Lakeway Signature Course, 26 Club Estates Parkway

American Heart Association: Austin Heart Ball

May 9, 6 p.m., JW Marriott,
110 E. Second St.

Leukemia And Lymphoma society: Man and Woman of the Year

Date, time and location TBD

Photos courtesy of Turk Pipkin. Photo by Justin Netti.


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