Outcome Stories

Donors help bring modern health care to children in Belize

5, April 01, 2016 10:35am

The poor in Belize deserve the highest-quality health care we can provide. That’s one of the things I’m most proud of about the work of Grateful Samaritans – we are striving to offer the families there the same care we would want for our own families. Because they deserve it, just as much as we do,” said Dr. Jon Kendall in describing one of the organizations he and his wife Jean support through gifts from their donor-advised fund.

When the Kendalls, both veterinarians, sold their practice last year, they used some of the proceeds to establish a donor-advised fund. Donor-advised funds allow donors to make a charitable contribution, receive an immediate tax benefit, and then recommend grants from the fund to the causes they care most about when they are ready. 

“Aligning deep convictions with resources is a profound privilege,” observed Charles Smith, who assisted the Kendalls with setting up the fund at TMF. “In the Kendalls’ case, they achieved their goal of continuing their charitable giving at levels prior to the sale of their clinic, at least for 2016.”

Kendall is clear about his motivation for giving:  “My focus is to serve Christ. The money is not mine – but I have an obligation to use it to the best that I can to glorify God’s Kingdom.”

One of the ways Kendall serves Christ is through Grateful Samaritans, a non-profit that delivers dental, medical, and veterinary care to those without access to it. The organization is currently focused on serving the children of Sittee River, a village in the Stann Creek district, in Belize. Recently named Director of Veterinary Services, Kendall and his family have served on eight mission trips to Belize through Grateful Samaritans and through their church, Salado UMC.

“Our approach is to provide not only immediate care, but education and ongoing care, so the people there can experience long-term impact and positive change,” Kendall observed.

On their last trip the group treated 80 elementary-age children at their fully-equipped mobile dental clinic and conducted a health fair covering topics like nutrition and teeth-cleaning. They also implemented a system for tracking the kids, so they can measure changes in behavior and provide further treatments, such as sealants and fillings. 

Kendall continued Grateful Samaritans’ approach of servanthood as he oversaw veterinary services – spaying, neutering, vaccinations, and education. “The people of Belize love their animals, just like Americans. They just don’t always have the resources to take care of them,” explained Kendall. “We travelled out to the countryside to pick up the animals and then delivered them back to their owners because transportation was a major issue.”

A story of an experience with a villager illustrates Kendall’s belief that it’s not what you have that’s important, but what you do with it. When a man expressed concern about his pet, Kendall went to the man’s very modest home where he was invited to share his lunch of a single fish and rice cake. The man insisted on eating the head of the fish and offered the rest to Kendall.

“You see that everywhere in the people there,” Kendall described. “Even in the midst of such challenging circumstances, they express respect and joy, an attitude of abundance, not scarcity. I think we have a lot to learn from them.”

“We live in a culture of over-consumption, buying more and more things, so many things we have to build massive facilities to store them. But I don’t think they are making us happier.”

But there is another option. Again, the approach is more important than the possessions.

“My wife and I have been married for 28 years. We’re a team. We know the depth and meaning that comes from living the core message of Christ, and we’ve passed that on to our kids. We are merely giving to God what is already God’s. Whether people give to those in need – in Belize or in their own communities – or to environmental issues or to animals, it all serves God.”

At TMF, we are honored to help the Kendalls and other donors align their deepest convictions with giving instruments, such as a donor-advised fund, that will translate those values into tangible results that transform communities. TMF has a depth of resources, charitable expertise, proven history and commitment to helping individuals and families achieve their God-inspired potential. Please contact Charles Smith, TMF Charitable Services Representative, at 800/933-5502 or csmith@tmf-fdn.org if you would like to start a conversation about how to fulfill your charitable vision.


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