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A Letter From Our Board President

Welcome to 2016!

A couple of weekends ago, my wife, Nancy, and I traveled to Pittsburgh and hosted a booth at the Coalition for Christian Outreach (CCO) Jubilee event.  This event, which ran from Friday evening to Sunday afternoon, welcomed 3,500 college students from Pennsylvania and surrounding states to worship, experience great praise music and learn from many knowledgeable speakers.  At our booth we conversed with many of them, sharing the story of Montaña de Luz and how they can be a part of the story through service trips, long term volunteering and financial support (especially our Amazon Gives program).  It was great to share our story with those who knew little about Honduras, let alone MdL.  We had an inspired weekend and I’m sure God led those youth to our booth for a purpose.  I look forward to seeing what these contacts bring and how these amazing young people will get involved.

On the other side, I’ve had many conversations the last few months with people who knew a lot about Honduras and, more importantly, Montaña de Luz and have supported MdL for many years and in countless ways.  My conversations centered around our appreciation for their support as well as to inform them about the progress Montaña de Luz has made in the nurturing and growth of the youth that we serve.  But one recurring question during these conversations caused me to pause and think.  “What is the greatest need at MdL?”  Sometimes when you are deep into the details you forget to step back and look at the big picture.  We have many needs at MdL and often discuss how to address them, but we have never really prioritized them.  I don’t believe I provided the clearest answer to this question during my conversations but it has been on my mind a lot during the last couple of months.  With our approved budget in hand and a set of goals for the coming year, I want to provide my thoughts (with general agreement by the board) on our greatest needs (I can’t narrow it down to one).

First and foremost, we need the continuing contributions of our supporters to maintain the day-to-operations.  Currently, this amounts to just over $35,000 per month.  If you are a God’s Gift supporter, sponsor/contribute through Fiesta or simply give what you can, we thank you and ask that you continue to do so as you are able.  In order to improve the purpose of MdL and manage our resources as best as possible, we have need for additional funds as well.  The first is important due to the timing.  Last year we needed to purchase a pickup truck, used to transport youth, supplies and project materials for the service teams. We were able to arrange a low interest loan.  Additionally, the organization loaning us the funds has offered to match all payments we make by the first of April.  If we can pay for half of the truck by that time, the rest of the loan will be forgiven, a savings of over $13,000.  Some funds have been received for this but we still need around $8,000 to take full advantage of this offer.

Next is the funding for our new program, Casa Luz.  This program to transition MdL youth into the next phase of their life, life after MdL, involves a home in a city closer to vocational schools and work opportunities.  We are still fine tuning the cost estimates but with renting a home, furnishing it, and providing funds to support the house and its staff, we need $15,000 – $20,000.  On an ongoing basis our annual costs will be less as we won’t have the initial startup costs.

Thirdly, we must increase our marketing activities to enhance our short term fundraising (new service teams, God’s Gift sponsors and general contributions) and increase our development activities to enhance our long term fundraising (sustained giving, endowments, etc.).  Ultimately, these functions can support themselves but initially I feel we need at least $15,000 to hire marketing and development expertise (be it paid staff, funding paid internships or hiring consultants).  I can use such expertise on the Board and Marketing Committee as well.  Overall contributions have gradually declined and we need to reach new funding sources to continually support our operations.

We have capital needs as well, which have been outlined in recent newsletters, the largest of which is currently the comedor (dining hall) repairs.  The trees in the courtyard between the buildings have invasive root systems and over time have damaged the floor, foundation and wall of this essential building.  The trees have been removed so now the repairs need to be completed.  The cost for this is $1,000.

Through these conversations with longtime supporters and inexperienced but eager youth, one thing stands out; we all have a story to share.  My appreciation for what MdL has accomplished and can accomplish grows every time I share my story.  Have you shared your MdL story recently?  I challenge you to share it with someone new this week.  Do you know someone or some group or organization who might like to hear our story and the opportunities that await them at MdL?  Let me know and I’ll make sure, if it’s not me, someone will go and share.  Because without our stories, some people may never find the love that is the Mountain of Light.  You can reach me easily at Board@montanadeluz.org.

Many thanks again for your continued support.  May God bless you in your endeavors this week.

Respectfully,
Kevin Gallagher, President of the Board