Family Celebrates True Miracles of the Jungle

COCONUT CREEK, Fla. (July 6, 2010) –Kansas City businessman, Joe Roetheli, traveled by plane, motorboat and car earlier this month to reach the remote Essequibo Coast, in Guyana, to inaugurate a third self-sustaining village commissioned in partnership with Food For The Poor. After an adventure that included crossing Guyana’s largest river, the travelers were greeted with the sight of 65 new, freshly painted blue, green and pink stilt homes with red roofs.


“God sends miracles in many forms,” said Roetheli. “Sometimes we as humans have difficulty in recognizing the miracles God sends our way. That was not the case with the construction of Princeville Village. God spoke loud and clear with His actions.”

In less than 60 days, Amerindians tamed approximately 20 acres of dense jungle with machetes and chainsaws and constructed 65 two-room houses with sanitation blocks, a community center, trading post, water project, and expanded and renovated the school.
The homes were built with hardwood lumber foraged and milled by members of the community. Additionally, some residents were hired to aid in the construction of the village.

Princeville was named in honor of Roetheli’s oldest son, Steffan – which means prince. Though Steffan was unable to attend this inauguration, he had attended the two previous Guyanese village dedications. A banner on the side console of the motorboat that transported the travelers to the village read, For God so loved the world, He gave His only begotten son. Since 2008, The Roetheli Lil’ Red Foundation, Joe and Judy Roetheli’s family charity, has generously invested in those living in abject poverty in Guyana and shared the joy of giving with their children and grandchildren. New Haven village was named in honor of Roetheli’s granddaughter, Haevyn. The first village, named Lil’ Red reflects the meaning of the Roetheli family name.


Food For The Poor’s contribution to housing in Amerindian and other villages has been significant, with Princeville being the third village built in Amerindian areas and the fifth of its kind in Guyana. To represent the Amerindian community both nationally and at the U.N., the inauguration ceremony was attended by the Minister of Amerindian Affairs and the Toshao chief. The ribbon cutting-ceremony included music from a steel drum band, cultural performances, cricket matches, food, and dance.

To allow residents the opportunity to earn a supplemental income, self-sustainable projects will be implemented by December 2010. At the inauguration, Roetheli said that The Roetheli Lil’Red Foundation will continue to invest in self-sustainable projects for the three Food For The Poor villages – Lil’ Red Village, New Haven and Princeville.

“Judy and I hope to inspire, challenge and energize the residents of these villages,” Roetheli said.

“Joe and Judy Roetheli’s generosity and love of the poor is evident through their actions and their words,” said Angel Aloma, Executive Director of Food For The Poor. “They are doing more to help the destitute than simply replacing deteriorating shacks – they are restoring their dignity and enabling them to dream again.”

In addition to the inauguration of Princeville, the group wore ponchos and monitored coastal tides in the narrow canals to revisit New Haven Village. The grateful residents welcomed the visitors by presenting them with colorful baskets.

“It was like going from a river into a rainforest in less than five seconds,” Aloma said. “It was breathtakingly beautiful. As we cleared some bushes, the community appeared – 70 colorful houses, raised on stilts that looked more like vacation chalets from a distance than homes for the poor.”


In addition to visiting the Princeville and New Haven villages the group accompanied Food For The Poor’s staff as they toured the Georgetown Penitentiary. The prison, designed to house 600 inmates, currently houses more than 1,100 prisoners.

Russell Fries and Jerry “J.G.” Glenn Hitchens traveled with Roetheli to Guyana. Fries said one of his most memorable experiences from the trip was touring the prison, noting it is not something everyone has the opportunity to witness or experience. He said the attitude of the prisoners was very good and there was a mutual level of respect between the prisoners and the guards.

“The trip was based on the scripture, “When was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?” said Russell Fries, who worked at Greenies® Company with Roetheli before the company was purchase by MARS.

“Interestingly, Russell spotted a Greenies® bag at an inmate’s bedside, even though the company never sold Greenies® in South America,” said Roetheli. “The group was truly amazed to see the Greenies® bag in the Georgetown Penitentiary.”

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
Food For The Poor
954-427-2222 x 6054