Have you ever considered what it would be like if you had to walk for an hour each morning across a rugged mountain road just to attend school for the day, only to be faced with having to walk another hour at the end of the school day to get home? Or what if you had to send your kids to school on an empty stomach each morning because you had no food? For the kids of rural Honduras, this is their reality every day. Honduras is among the poorest nations in the world with much of the population living below the poverty level, earning less than $2 per day. However, statistics show that a child who earns at least a sixth grade education has hope for breaking the cycle of poverty because he or she will learn basic reading, writing and math skills that open future doors. This is the foundation of the Lunches for Learning mission.
Lunches for Learning exists to break the cycle of poverty in rural Honduras by providing a healthy lunch to elementary school children every school day at their school; thereby allowing these children to stay in school so they can complete at least the sixth grade and enter the workforce as literate individuals.
If you would like to make a difference in the lives of these kids in Honduras, we invite you to consider becoming a school sponsor. Our School Sponsorship page will explain more, or you can contact us to discuss what a school sponsorship involves - including opportunities to travel to Honduras and develop long-term, on-going partnerships with the community you - or your organization - support as a sponsor.
Letter from Our President Emeritus
Dear Friends of Lunches for Learning,
These are exciting times for Lunches for Learning. Not only do we have more than a decade of experience and success in feeding more than 1,700 children in rural schools across Valle Province, but we are also positioning ourselves for the next decade and beyond.
Our strategy for 2017 is to secure sponsorship commitments for the four remaining unsponsored schools in our network, and therefore to deepen the support of our sponsored schools and students currently in the program. This strategy prepares us to expand our program to additional schools, and additional students, in the Valle Province.
During 2016, we reinforced and expanded our volunteer working committee structure, which includes Communications, Marketing, Operations, Finance and Governance committees. We also continued developing a strong operational staff, both in the United States and in Honduras, enhancing our board of directors’ operations and building a strong financial margin to carry us forward, year after year.
I invite you to take a closer look at Lunches for Learning, the people at the heart of the organization, and the many, many lives impacted. The opportunities for you to get involved and make a difference in the lives of so many children are limitless. Please join in and help Lunches for Learning provide this daily lunch and watch how your efforts are magnified over the next ten years.
Siempre su amigo,
Ronald E. Hicks
President Emeritus, Lunches for Learning, Inc.
Board of Directors
Terry Taylor, Board Chair
Mr. Taylor is the founder and President of Tight Line Drywall and Exteriors a construction firm located in Marietta Georgia. He has over 30 years of experience in the construction industry previously holding the position as Director of Sales for USG Corporation. He has lived in many parts of the country, moving from the west coast, to the mid-west to the south for various corporate career opportunities. In 1997 he moved his young family to Marietta Georgia where he assumed the role of Director of sales for North American Industrial products. In 2004 he began his entrepreneurial career investing in Tight Line.
Terry has a bachelor’s degree in marketing and an MBA from Pepperdine University. He has a passion for faith based mission work, and is active in his community and church. He currently sits on the board for Roswell Rotary and Lunches for Learning. He enjoys traveling the world, fly-fishing, golfing and spending time with his wife Amy of 30 years. Together they have raised three children and consider them their greatest accomplishment in life.
Jeff Bohman, Treasurer
Mr. Bohman is vice president of Warren Averett Technology Group, LLC which is an IT consulting affiliate of the public accounting firm Warren Averett LLC. With more than 20 years of combined business and computer experience, Mr. Bohman provides leadership in areas of financial integrity, operation infrastructure and administration of Lunches for Learning. Mr. Bohman is a founding member of Lunches for Learning.
Jeff also serves as Chair of the Finance and Audit Committee.
Art Walsh, Secretary
Mr. Walsh recently retired from full time employment but continues to provide consulting services to a few clients. He was a senior executive with more than 40 years’ experience involving consulting, senior operating roles, project management, start-up/IPO management, M&A activities and divestitures. He has a strong background in finance and accounting, corporate governance, human resources management, information systems, office services, facilities management, cost management, legal matters and contract administration. Mr. Walsh also helped form a 501 (c)(3) organization and initially held the Treasurer position on the Board. Mr. Walsh has also been very active in Roswell United Methodist Church, having served on the Finance Committee, the Grow Committee as a member and Chairperson, the Board of Stewards, the Space Allocation Committee and the Golf Committee. Mr. Walsh currently is a member of the Pastor Parish Relations Committee.
Mr. Walsh graduated magna cum laude with a BBA in Accounting from Georgia State University. Art lives in Roswell, GA with his wife and 2 step sons. He also has an adopted college-aged daughter, an adult son who lives in Minneapolis and a married daughter who lives in the Atlanta area. He enjoys spending time with his family, cycling and playing golf.
Mrs. Digieso is a retired educator, who was raised in a military family and traveled her whole life. She began her education at Agnes Scott College in Decatur, Georgia and earned her doctorate from Century University in New Mexico. Jacque’s teaching career began in Bangkok, Thailand where she was introduced to an extremely diverse student body. Her professional growth has focused on individual learning styles, successful techniques for teaching diverse learners and creating environments that were both nurturing and challenging. In 1985 her husband Joe, an executive turned teacher, founded The Cottage School, for teens with learning disabilities where she served as Executive director till July 2015.
Her passion for education quickly brought her into the world of community service. She’s served on boards for learning disabilities, youth, church, independent schools, charitable organizations, chambers of commerce and international service organizations and continues to serve on the Board of Directors for The Cottage School, and as an accreditation agent for Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) and Southern Association of Independent Schools (SAIS). She serves Rotary International as a Past President of Roswell Rotary Club, and current Awards Chair for RI District 6900.
Jacque and Joe have 2 sons and 5 grandchildren that they enjoy spending time with when possible.
Mr. Gulledge is the founder of Continental Brokerage Corporation, which has been a leader in volume beef sales for over 34 years. He is a graduate of Florida State University. Mr. Gulledge became interested in Lunches for Learning after hearing Ron Hicks' presentation at a Rotary Club meeting. Having seen the need during business trips to Honduras, Mr. Gulledge is helping the children at Jose Trinidad Reyes Elementary take advantage of their educational opportunities by sponsoring their school.
Kristi M. Holzimmer
Ms. Holzimmer is chief manager of a real estate-related business, Central Alabama Title Center, LLC, which is owned by a consortium of Alabama Banks. Ms. Holzimmer is a founding member of Lunches for Learning and brings over 25 years of combined business experience in the areas of management, marketing and business development to Lunches for Learning.
Mr. Lind was born in Germany, lived in Mexico for 7 years and served 5 years in the US Air Force in the 60’s. After leaving the Air Force Rudy became a flight instructor and a Delta Airlines pilot. After retiring he has become very active in his church, Episcopal Church of St. Peter and St. Paul in Marietta, GA and the Rotary Club of Roswell where he has headed numerous committees. Since 2014, Rudy regularly travels to Honduras to visit the schools and to assist in keeping the sponsors informed of the happenings at the schools they support.
Rudy and his wife Cynthia are very family oriented and enjoy spending time with their 3 children and 8 grandchildren who are scattered from coast to coast. He likes to travel, hike and does several triathlons each year.
Rudy serves as Chair of our Honduras Operations Committee with the title of Director of Honduran Operations.
Mrs. Love is a Municipal Operations Consultant with the Georgia Municipal Association (GMA). She has 25 years of public sector experience specializing in local government and public education financial management. Prior to joining GMA, she served for ten years as the City Administrator for the City of Roswell, GA.
She holds MBA and B.B.A degrees from Columbus State University. She is a member of the Roswell Rotary Club and several professional organizations. She enjoys traveling to Honduras to see firsthand the positive impact that the Lunches for Learning program has on the children and communities it serves.
Kay serves as Chair of the Marketing and Communications Committee.
Mr. McCormick is co-owner and General Sales and Custom Relations Manager in a family business, Grupo Mccos, that started in Honduras as a courier service in 1996, but has expanded to a logistics company that sees to custom services for personal and corporate clients. Mr. McCormick is a charter member of the Villa Real De Tegucigalpa Rotary Club. He volunteers as a board member of the Alternativas y Oportunidades (nonprofit) since 2014 and the Fundación Uniendo America (microcredit-nonprofit) since 2015.
Armando and his wife, Wendy Ayestas (Rotarian) have 3 children and enjoy spending time together as a family.
Mr. Necaise has been a resident of the Mississippi Gulf Coast most of his life. He attended Mississippi State University where he received his BS in Electrical Engineering. While at college Ace was a member of the MSU Track team and a member of the Kappa Beta Chapter of Theta Tau Engineering Fraternity.
Mr. Necaise has served as a member of the Jackson County Chamber of Commerce, D'Iberville Chamber of Commerce, member of NRECA's T & D Engineering Underground Subcommittee (past Secretary and past President), and a Director of Chemical Abuse Prevention Services in Jackson County, MS.
Mr. Necaise has been involved in Rotary International for almost 30 years starting with the Rotary Club of Gautier, MS where he was club president in 2003-2004. He was Rotarian of the Year for his club in 2008. He served as an Assistant Governor for District 6840 from 2004 to 2007, and was Rotarian of the Year for District 6840 in 2004-2005.
Ace and his wife Patti have 3 children and 4 grandchildren. In his spare time Ace enjoys fishing and golf. He is an accomplished self-taught handyman and mechanic, and always has some project in the works. Now that he has retired he plans to spend more time with the grandchildren, on his Rotary endeavors and working on his honey-do list.
Mr. Rivers is a native Georgian and received his pharmacy degree from the University of Georgia. Before retirement he spent forty-two years as a registered pharmacist in both retail pharmacy and pharmacy management.
Bill and his wife, Anita, live in Canton, GA and are active members of Roswell United Methodist Church. They are the proud parents of two grown daughters and one grandson. His hobbies include sports, woodworking, traveling, and gardening.
Bill serves as Chair of the Governance Committee of Lunches for Learning.
Craig Simons, Director & Special Advisor to Board Chair
As an electrical engineer, Mr. Simons began his career in technical product development, ultimately leading to a 20-year career in sales management for a Fortune 500 technology company. More recently, he partnered with his wife, becoming chief operating officer of their healthcare recruiting and staffing firm. Presently, Mr. Simons is active as an investor, coach, teacher and volunteer. He is a leader in his church, an active Rotarian, a leader in a job networking ministry and community supporter.
Lunches for Learning Staff
Phil Dodson, Executive Director, United States
Phil Dodson joined the Lunches for Learning team as Executive Director in April of 2016 after serving as Development Director for North Georgia Camp & Retreat Ministries in Atlanta from 2006 tp 2016. As a 1986 graduate of LaGrange College in LaGrange, GA, Phil began his career in higher education, serving three different colleges in the Admission and Financial Aid arena. In 1997, he transitioned to the credit and financial services industry where he served in several Client Relations roles before returning to the nonprofit sector in 2006 with North Georgia Camp and Retreat Ministries. Phil and his wife Tracy live in Alpharetta, GA. They have three children: Megan, age 21; Mia, age 19; and Jimmy, age 16.
Mary Lou Monaghan, Operations Administrator, United States
Mary Lou (ML) joined the Lunches for Learning team as Operations Administrator in March 2015 after serving as a Senior Manager, Government Affairs and Association Manager at National Automatic Merchandising Association (NAMA) for 16 years. ML earned her Business Management degree from University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee and University of West Florida in Pensacola. She is originally from Buffalo, NY and now resides in Alpharetta, GA. She can be contacted directly at 770.873.2305 or click on her photo to send her an email.
Fernando Ortiz, Manager of Honduran Operations
Born and raised in Nacaome, Honduras, Fernando Ortiz currently serves as general manager of the Honduras operations. Mr. Ortiz studied in Tegucigalpa and received a degree as a CPA from the Instituto Central Vicente Caceres, a prestigious university in Honduras. Mr. Ortiz lives in Nacaome with his wife Karen and children, Gina and Fernando Jr. He is also active in local politics.
Jessica Gonzalez, Manager of Government & External Relations, Honduras
Jessica studied at Jose Cecilio del Valle University in Tegucigalpa. Jessica attended elementary school at the Andrea Gonzalez Elementary School in El Amatillo, which is the very first school in the Lunches for Learning school lunch program. Jessica has worked with Lunches for Learning over the years in a variety of capacities, which include translating during business appointments and administrative assistant duties. Jessica understands first-hand how important Lunches for Learning is for the children in Honduras and is so proud to be part of this amazing program that is helping the children of Honduras to have a better future.
Juniors Ortiz, Honduran Operations Supervisor
Juniors was born in Tegucigalpa and moved with his parents to Nacaome, in the Valle Department, at the age of two. He continues to live in Nacaome with his mother and younger siblings. He received his primary education in a bilingual school, Jose Trinidad Cabanas. He studied through ninth grade in the Technical department of the Terencio Sierra school in Nacaome, then obtained his Technical Bachelors degree in Computing in Choluteca. Juniors is proud to be a part of this incredible program that is providing a better future for his fellow citizens in the Valle region of Honduras.
Sometimes, significant decisions are made when they are least expected. In 2004, Ron Hicks was presented with an extraordinary choice while on a trip through Central America. Waiting for a border crossing between El Salvador and Honduras, Ron experienced first-hand a multitude of poverty stricken children. One little nine-year-old girl happened to make eye contact while begging for money and she became the catalyst of a series of choices made by Ron. It was a moment that created a movement.
Times were hard for this child, just as they continue to be for many children in this poor, rural region in Southern Honduras. When you come from a household of hungry people, you have to beg, and this little girl was begging at the border crossing into El Salvador for her and her family. There is not a lot of hope in this environment. Most people who travel this road are in a hurry to get somewhere else. Many become hardened by the poverty and suffering. Ron Hicks passed through, gave her a couple of coins, and moved on. But Ron was haunted by her memory.
Ron returned home to the United States, still struggling with his choice to turn this little girl away. He began to think about what to do and concluded that his only choice was to return to Honduras, cross the border in the same location and try to find this little girl. He didn't know yet how he could help her, but he was determined to find a way.
After a great deal of effort, he returned to Honduras and located this child and her family living in a small shack in El Amatillo, Honduras. This little girl's name is Anabel (pronounced "Annabelle"). He spoke with the family and Anabel herself through an interpreter and soon learned the families in this rural town were also faced with a choice – the choice to either send their children to the streets, begging for money so they could buy food, or to send them to school for an education and hope for the future, but with an empty stomach because there was no money to feed them.
With a sense of optimism and the help of Messiah Lutheran Church in Montgomery, Alabama, Lunches for Learning began its mission to break the cycle of poverty in this forgotten part of Central America. Lunches for Learning helped Anabel find a way back to elementary school by providing her and her classmates a nourishing lunch at school. From this small act of encouragement, hope has grown.
Anabel's school was the first school to receive lunches through the Lunches for Learning program. Anabel, like hundreds of students since, completed her education - with the help of Lunches for Learning - and graduated. She is now 21 years old, living and working in neighboring El Salvador with a bright future ahead of her.
The Lunches for Learning program was created in 2004 and incorporated in 2005 as a 501(c)(3) and with it, a tradition of hope, empowerment and dignity arose. Today more than 1,700 children are fed a nutritious lunch at 29 rural elementary and middle schools in the Valle District of Honduras. With the strength of God and the support of strategic partners, Lunches for Learning hopes to continue breaking the cycle of poverty in rural Honduras.