American Success Story Builds Dreams in Guyana

COCONUT CREEK, Fla. (Jan. 27, 2010) – Living in abject poverty in Guyana - one of the poorest countries in the Western Hemisphere - can rob a person of their ability to dream. In contrast, Joe and Judy Roetheli’s big dreams helped them achieve success and replace once crumbling shacks, and cries of suffering, into self-sustaining villages and tears of joy in that same country.

“After we sold the company [Greenies®], we had money to provide help for other people,” said Judy Roetheli. “It makes you feel good when you can help people achieve their dreams through your dreams.”

Joe Roetheli and his oldest son, Steffan, traveled from Kansas City, Mo. to Guyana, Jan. 14-19 to dedicate the New Haven Village and visit residents in that new village and the Lil Red Village which was dedicated in March 2009. They wanted to get to know the people that have benefited from their passion, commitment, and financial assistance.

“We’re considering a host of micro-enterprise options for future development in the villages,” said Joe Roetheli from Guyana.

“Few people are aware of the widespread poverty in Guyana,” said Angel Aloma, Food For The Poor’s Executive Director. “As a result, the country receives relatively little help from other international relief agencies, although the needs remain immense.”

The second village to be constructed by the Roetheli family is New Haven Village, in Siriki. The village consists of 70 double-house units, sanitation blocks, a community center, a school with 12 computer workstations, several neighborhood retail shops, access to potable water, and a community garden area to grow food. Many of the residents wept when they first learned they would receive a Food For The Poor home free of charge.

Joe and Steffan traveled by plane, car and speedboat to the remote region of Essequibo to visit the grateful residents of Lil’Red Village. In March 2009, the residents first met the Roethelis that made their dream of a home come true. One colorful banner welcomed them from where it had been hung on the new schoolhouse. The sign read Judy’s School of New Beginnings – Where Hopes & Dreams Can Grow.

Residents of Lil’Red Village consider the pink-painted homes with bright red roofs to be answered prayers. The project consists of 100 housing units and sanitation blocks, a community center, a school, several retail shops, a water tower, electric service to the community, and a five-acre community garden. The Lil’ Red Village has the potential to help more than 600 people within the village.

Joe and Judy Roetheli decided to partner with Food For The Poor to build an entire village in Guyana after they heard Father Columkill Regan and Father Louis Papas talk about the mission of the Florida-based nonprofit that serves the poorest of the poor throughout the Caribbean and Latin America. Father Papas spoke about the horrible living conditions that many poor people suffered in Guyana and the desperate need for housing there.

The couple took the priests’ message to heart and decided to do something – something big, something that would make a real difference for the poor. The establishment of the Roetheli Lil’ Red Foundation enabled them to give of their time and provide financial relief to those in need.

“We felt our hearts being pulled to help the poor, homeless people in Guyana because they were living in deteriorating shacks made of cardboard and corrugated aluminum on the street,” said Judy Roetheli. “I was so glad that our son got to go because it really did his heart good to see what our little bit of money could do for others.”

The Roetheli Lil’ Red Foundation is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to inspire people to use their skills and talents for the betterment of themselves and others. The Foundation participates in a variety of inspirational projects including pet visitation programs in nursing homes with a focus in rural Missouri, encouraging entrepreneurial talents and skills and inspirational documentaries and books. To read about other inspiring Lil’ Red Foundation projects, and to make a donation that would help continue their work, visit

Food For The Poor, the largest international relief and development organization in the United States, does much more than feed millions of hungry poor in 17 countries of the Caribbean and Latin America. This interdenominational Christian agency provides emergency relief assistance, clean water, medicines, educational materials, homes, support for orphans and the aged, skills training and micro-enterprise development assistance, with more than 96 percent of all donations going directly to programs that help the poor. For more information please visit,

Jennifer Leigh Oates
Public Relations
(954) 427-2222 x 6054