by Mike Tenbusch

To meet Dr. Ken Coleman is to find a new friend, which I discovered while spending time with him at the opening of our new family life center in Honduras last week. Ken had a good question, funny story, or insightful perspective to share in every conversation or situation he was in. He was actually at the event as one of our VIPs, but he went out of his way to talk with our scholars and parents–making them the VIPs with him.

In watching Ken simply be himself, I could see why his friends, Bill and Sally Martin, decided to publicly celebrate Ken last year by thanking him for his service to the University of Michigan with a water tower in his honor. Ken is married to the former president of the University of Michigan, Dr. Mary Sue Coleman, and Bill was the athletic director for the university under her leadership. He saw for years how Ken’s zest for life, compassion for people, and intellectual curiosity blessed his wife and the university.

This is the water tower in the Buen Samaritano community that we built together last year. It gives health to this community and commemorates Ken’s legacy.

water tower

Last year, with the help of Bill Martin and other generous donors, a 20,000-gallon water tower was built that brought clean water to 400 homes and more than 2,000 people.

Ken has also played a vital role in International Samaritan’s history. He is a political scientist who has traveled and studied extensively throughout Latin America, and his focus groups with people in the communities we were serving 15 years ago caused us to shift our focus from building homes to providing scholarships to help their children avoid a future working in the dumpsites.

After the Martins made their gift to help build the water tower last year, they came to Honduras with Ken and me to celebrate the grand opening of the new water system. The Martins were so moved by the hopes and resilience of the people there that they made another gift this year to bring the brand new Buen Samaritano Family Life Center to life.

Family Life Center

The new family life center has a library, a computer room, classrooms for extracurricular activities such as music and art, a kitchen, a soccer field, and soon a playground will be added.

Please take just a minute to enjoy the celebration from this past weekend by checking out the highlight video and photos below. This family life center was made possible by a man who has spent a lifetime joyfully learning and tending to the needs of his family and others, and two of his friends who wanted to celebrate how much he has impacted the world. What an inspiration for what we want the family life center to become, a place that strengthens families and community!

Grand Opening Celebration

Our highlights from the grand opening celebration. 

classroom and computer lab inside the family life center

Classrooms and a computer lab offer space for additional learning and enrichment activities for our scholars and community members. 

ribbon-cutting ceremony at the grand opening of the family life center

Samaritan Scholars, friends, team members, and community members celebrated at the ribbon-cutting ceremony. Pictured L-R is Alex Maffeis, Bill Martin, Maritza, Sally Martin, Diego, Ronia Romero, and Ken Coleman.

Speakers at the grand opening of the family life center.

Speeches at the family life center’s grand opening celebration were given by several people including Maria, one of our Samaritan Scholars (left), Ken Coleman (middle), and Flor (right), the mother of one of our scholars.  

Samaritan Scholars at the grand opening of the family life center.

Thanks to the support of the Martins and Colemans, our Samaritan Scholars are University of Michigan fans!

Scholars and community members have a dedicated space to play soccer.

Scholars and community members have a dedicated space to play soccer at the new family life center.

International Samaritan is a Christ-centered organization built on Catholic Social Teaching. Our mission is to walk hand-in-hand with people who live and work in the garbage dumps of developing nations to help them break out of poverty.

We provide holistic scholarships for students from kindergarten through college, and we’re currently supporting 950 scholars in Central America, the Caribbean, and East Africa.

Would your church or school group like to partner and travel with us? Learn about our Learn, Serve, Grow program.

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By Mike Tenbusch

Mike Tenbusch, President

Mike joined International Samaritan in 2018 after two decades of leading social change in his hometown of Detroit, Michigan. He’s a University of Michigan Law grad and author of The Jonathan Effect: Helping Kids and Schools Win the Battle Against Poverty. He and his wife, Maritza, have three children who keep them young.

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