Sturdy Homes and Fishing Villages: A Different Kind of Mission for a Retired Major General
COCONUT CREEK, Fla. (May 8, 2017) Retired Maj. Gen. Bernard "Burn" Loeffke has no intention of slowing down. A man of his word, he has completed three life-transforming projects for the poor in three different countries in three years with Food For The Poor.
Loeffke's latest project is a fishing village in Honduras, which he visited in April. Last year, he built a 25-home community in the hilltops of Somoto, Nicaragua, and the previous year, a community of 27 homes in Spring Pass in Hamstead, St. Thomas, Jamaica.
"Here in Honduras, General Loeffke and a few special donors will take a look at the needs of the people, and also at what he and other donors have done to lift people up out of poverty," said Chris Wallace, Senior Development Advisor with Food For The Poor.
Loeffke, along with his son Marc, eagerly awaited their visit to the coastal town of La Ceiba with Food For The Poor for the inauguration of the General Hank Emerson Fishing Village, which was named in honor of one of the most decorated officers in Army history who inspired noted leaders such as Loeffke.
"For us, it's a great pleasure to be here because we are establishing a village that will honor a great general and also John Gardner, founder of the White House Fellows, whose vision of a leader is to keep hope alive," said Loeffke. "But what really impressed me the most are the fishermen. They are not keeping the fish, they're sharing it throughout their entire community."
Loeffke's motivation has provided the new fishing village with four 23-foot fiberglass boats with high-powered outboard engines, global positioning systems, fishing tackle, 100-quart coolers and safety equipment. Two of the boats, the Melissa I and the Melissa II were donated by an 18-year-old from China. She began saving money for the boats when she was 14.The fishing village has a gear shed with a freezer, and a solar-powered street light for the common area.
"Together with Food For The Poor, we are trying to build a string of homes around the Caribbean to show how China and the U.S. are working to bring the needy some help," said Loeffke.
During the inauguration, one fisherman exclaimed, "We thank you, God bless you!" as he clapped with gratitude as he displayed the day's catch, caught using one of the new Food For The Poor fishing boats.
"Providing these fishermen with the right equipment is a blessing. These men take pride knowing that they can feed their families, make a living and help their neighbors. Food For The Poor began serving the poor of Honduras in 1999, in an effort to combat hunger, malnutrition and poverty. This is why these fishing villages are so vitally important for Honduras' coastal communities," said Robin Mahfood President/CEO of Food For The Poor. "General Loeffke is a remarkable person and Food For The Poor is extremely grateful for the positive impact he's making in the lives of the fishermen in La Ceiba."
After decades in the Army, Loeffke's focus has changed. He's determined to build as many homes as possible to help poor families to have a better life in his Peacemaker Villages. The third Peacemaker Village will help the 30 fishermen and their families in the General Hank Emerson Fishing Village. Construction for their community will start later this year.
During Loeffke's visit to Honduras, Food For The Poor surprised the retired general with the Peacemakers Remember Me Garden in the town of Tela. Planted in the garden are a variety of fruit trees, exotic plants and gray stones, which are inscribed with names of fallen soldiers who made a difference in Loeffke's life.
Loeffke said his passion for making a difference began decades after U.S. Army Sgt. Larry Morford lost his life in Vietnam, but saved his. He also credits China's Cpl. Lei Feng for also making an impact. Both Morford and Lei Feng died at the age of 22.
"So much of my dad's mission and what's important to him is that all of these people deserve remembrance and to have their stories told, all those who have given their lives in service," said Marc Loeffke. "Larry Morford changed my dad's life. He was able to get through to my dad and to show him by his actions the possibilities of peace."
Loeffke calls South Florida home and has a military career that spans more than three decades. Fluent in Spanish, Portuguese, Russian, French and proficient in Mandarin Chinese, Loeffke was awarded the Purple Heart for wounds in combat, as well as Silver and Bronze Stars for Valor. He also has authored several inspirational books.
Food For The Poor, one of the largest international relief and development organizations in the nation, does much more than feed millions of the hungry poor primarily in 17 countries of the Caribbean and Latin America. This interdenominational Christian ministry provides emergency relief assistance, clean water, medicines, educational materials, homes, support for orphans and the aged, skills training and micro-enterprise development assistance. Over the last 10 years, fundraising and other administrative costs averaged less than 5 percent of our expenses; more than 95 percent of all donations went directly to programs that help the poor. For more information, please visit www.FoodForThePoor.org.
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