Growing up as a middle class Catholic School girl in North Florida, I spent hours daydreaming about a romantic and adventurous life as a Peace Corps volunteer in far-flung locales. I imagined I would save the world and live in exciting places.
Instead, upon growing older, I began a career in the United States as a teacher and later as a school administrator working with troubled kids from the inner city. While this life was certainly rewarding and exciting, I never forgot my early dream of moving abroad to a remote location, living and working with the local people.
In 2002, my husband Alan & I began to fulfill our dream of moving abroad to a remote location and living and working with local people by moving to Belize, a tiny county the size of Massachusetts located on the Caribbean Sea in Central America. Our passion for nature, love of adventure, and desire to live around amazing people led us to start Table Rock Jungle Lodge, a small ecolodge on the Macal River near San Ignacio, Belize. While we weren’t sure exactly what our little lodge would develop into, we both knew that we wanted to commit ourselves to the core values of sustainable tourism: helping the environment, aiding the local community, and educating travelers about both. Rebecca Rothney and her amazing foundation, Pack for a Purpose, have been an amazing key for us in linking all these aspects together.
Of course, as a former educator, it came only naturally that one of the main areas on which we wanted to concentrate our assistance efforts would be our local village school, the Cristo Rey R.C. School, which serves hundreds of students from ages 3-14. What better way to help our school with much needed supplies, books, and sports equipment than by partnering with Pack for a Purpose?!
We were thrilled this past month to have had not only our largest cache of supplies donated by Table Rock guests to deliver to the Cristo Rey School, but also to have inspired our young niece, Mikaela Karney Trull, to dive in and help with our cause as well! For her 13th birthday, our amazing niece asked her friends and family not to get gifts for her, but instead to buy school supplies and books for the students at our school. Loads of donations came in and we have still more waiting to be delivered from her efforts.
Says Mikaela, “The reason why I wanted to have another birthday where I gathered different donations for a cause is because when I first did it, it was really fun. Some people may think, ‘Why wouldn’t you just want to have a regular birthday?’ Or, ‘Don’t you want anything?’. The truth is there are things that I would like to have, but I don’t need them. There are children all over the world who don’t have anything, so why not help them out? As they always say, ‘It’s better to give than to receive.’”