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Kansas City entrepreneurs give $800,000 for Guyana village

Kansas City entrepreneurs Joe and Judy Roetheli, who sold one of the world’s most successful dog treat companies two years ago, are sharing their wealth in Guyana.The Roethelis recently returned from a visit to the South American republic, where their $800,000 gift is helping to build a village for more than 600 poor Guyanans, said Hugh Graf, a spokesman for Food for the Poor Inc. Based in Coconut Creek, Fla., Food For The Poor is partnering on the Guyana project with the Roethelis’ Lil Red Foundation .The Roethelis, who developed the breath-freshening dog treat Greenies in 1996, sold 750 million of the treats through Kansas City-based S&M NuTec LLC before selling the company to Mars Inc. in 2006.A year later, the couple launched the Lil Red Foundation and announced $1.25 million in gifts to support entrepreneurship, inspirational books and videos, pet therapy for the elderly, eye care in third-world countries and help for the homeless in Latin America."Judy and I have always believed that it is important to give back, whether it is to your local community or to the world as a whole," Joe Roetheli said in a release.According to the release, the Roethelis heard about the horrible living conditions facing the poor in Guyana during a church presentation about Food For The Poor efforts in Latin America.Construction of The Lil Red Village in Guyana began in October and is 75 percent completed. It comprises 100 housing units and sanitation blocks, a community center, a school, several retail shops, a water tower, electric service and a five-acre community garden."With help from Food For the Poor, the residents will be able to sustain themselves beyond the home they were given and work toward becoming self-sufficient by using their personal gifts to teach others in the village," Joe Roetheli said in the release.(via bizjournals.com)
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