Thursday, April 18, 2024

ECI Development and Caye International Bank partner with the Living Word Church to lead the way to bring food relief to the people of Ambergris Caye

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Submitted by Addie Craig, ECI Development

The recent COVID-19 pandemic has not been an easy thing for the San Pedro community to weather. In the noise of it all, many families have found themselves worrying about how to get food on their table and how they will survive through this sudden change in the system. ECI Development and Caye International Bank have partnered with Pastor Ian Zalidvar and the Living Word Church in San Pedro to help lead the way in bringing food relief to the people of Ambergris Caye.
ECI Development and its affiliate companies, Caye International Bank, and Georgetown Trust have a longstanding relationship with The Living Word Church and value and appreciate the work that the church, led by Pastor Ian, does for the community of San Pedro. For Pastor Ian, setting up a food distribution program felt like the natural first step that his church could take to address the issue of hunger facing the community during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Living Word Church has always been involved in the San Pedro community and so Joel Nagel, Chairman of the Board of Caye International Bank as well as the Chair of the Living Word Church Finance Committee immediately began contacting personal and business friends requesting financial donations to support the Living Word Church food program.

Chairman Nagel said “We all knew that given San Pedro’s reliance on tourism that there would be serious financial devastation effecting those most vulnerable.  We wanted to make sure that all San Pedranos had access to basic food resources.
Nagel went onto say “We are very grateful to a handful of international businesses based here in San Pedro especially Caye International Bank and ECI Development which not only maintained their own company’s personnel throughout this crises, but also worked together with their directors, shareholders and customers to raise awareness and financial support for the people of San Pedro. We greatly appreciate the solidarity and financial donations during these challenging times”.
Since the community food bank was initiated, The Living Word Church has been able to provide over 1,100 families with food baskets as a result of generous donations provided to the Living Word Church.

The Living Word Church’s food distribution is not limited to members of the congregation. In fact, Pastor Ian mentioned that only about 1% of his church members have sought assistance through this program, the rest being members of the greater San Pedro community. “It has nothing to do with faith or religion; it has everything to do with helping those who currently find themselves in need” said Pastor Ian.
At the start of the food distribution, the church utilized funds from savings to provide basic necessities for these families. Knowing that these funds were limited, Living Word’s partners both in Belize and the U.S. stepped in to offer financial assistance to allow the food bank program to continue. To date, an astounding $27,000 USD has been donated to the Living Word Church which has helped to buy much needed food items such as eggs, flour, beans, rice, cooking oil, cereal, and other basic grocery items.
Pastor Ian said, “The support of international companies like Caye International Bank and ECI Development has been particularly important through it all. These are companies who have been a part of Living Word Church’s community for about 12 years.” Pastor Ian noted that much of the charitable work that the church has done over the years would not have been possible without the continued assistance of ECI Development, Caye International Bank, and Georgetown Trust.
Belize’s border remains closed to international tourism leaving many Belizeans out of work for the unforeseeable future, as such, Pastor Ian does not see the economic situation of most Belizean’s getting brighter or the need for community assistance to lessen anytime soon. Pastor Ian speculates that even once the international borders reopen and locals in the tourism industry are able to return to work, the need for food assistance will still be present for at least the remainder of 2020.
ECI’s Chairman Michael K. Cobb added, “While we all hope that the tourism sector rebounds quickly, the uncertainty caused by the COVID-19 has impacted both the traveler and the provider networks. It may take some time for airlines, hotels, restaurants and other major employers to reach full capacity again. In the meantime, in addition to retaining our team, we are moved to help those less fortunate in the community who have lost their jobs. A huge thanks to Pastor Ian and Living Word for stepping up to coordinate the food drive and distribution.”

The Living Word Church community continues to do what they can to provide for the members of the community but doing so comes at a cost. The Living Word Church recognize that they will need further financial aid to continue in order to continue to provide for the citizens of San Pedro. With the assistance of Joel Nagel, Chairman of Caye International Bank, The Living Word Church received its 501(c)(3) status in the United States to allow North American friends of the Living Word Church to easily support the work that is being done for the community of San Pedro.

If you are compelled to donate, checks can be made out to “Friends of the Living Word Church Inc.” and mailed to:
Nagel & Associates, LLC
409 Broad Street – Suite 204
Sewickley, Pennsylvania 15143
Phone: + 412-749-0500

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