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Local humanitarian nonprofit will host Mother’s Day charity event to build orphanage

Lisa Harbertson

ROAM Humanitarian’s Mother's Day charity event will raise funds for an orphanage while inspiring locals to make a global impact.

Heber Valley-based ROAM Humanitarian founders Lindsay and Justin Bowen didn’t originally set out to change the world.

“Her dream as a kid was to help people. My dream was to be a sheep herder in New Zealand," joked Justin. "So, we can see what kind of, what level we're on, right? She just wants to help people. And the amount of work that this takes is insane.”

Lisa Harbertson

That work is to provide a sustainable impact on communities in need and Justin and Lindsay are the dream team for change. Justin previously led global National Geographic photography workshops, and for the past 13 years has built a successful business leading youth and corporate adventure groups around the world.

Lindsay has a master’s degree in educational leadership and a month before COVID hit, she quit her job as a third-grade teacher and started a humanitarian travel company. Despite the uncertainty of worldwide shutdowns, she never looked back.

ROAM is now in eight countries. All of its service trips have been funded by participants (or, as they call them, “Roamers.”) The nonprofit has taken on a new project to build an orphanage and school in Tanzania and now needs local support at a Mother's Day charity event on Saturday, May 11 at 6:30 p.m.

“We've purchased the four acres of land in Tanzania and now we just need funds to build it," said Lindsay. "And we’re holding our charity event Mother's Day weekend because it's ROAM Wild, which is all based around wildflowers. So we'll have bouquets there for mothers and just beautiful corsages and all sorts of fun things. And then we have a corporate match–Lemonade Capital is matching dollar for dollar up to $1 million. So we want to just get everyone there because every dollar is doubled.”

Lisa Harbertson

The event at Summerhouse Farms in Heber will include drinks, dinner, a silent auction and live entertainment from comedian Jason Hewlett. Tickets are available at roamhumanitarian.org.

The couple said they don’t have aspirations to be the next worldwide organization. They partner with leaders in local communities to provide resources that empower each individual they serve.

“We bought this land on a main road that every bus can get to from any village and the community center is what we're starting with," said Lindsay. "Utah-based Mint Construction is building it, they're donating that time and resources for that. And so the community center will have a space where we can continue our sewing programs where these women come and learn how to sew, and then they get business grants at the end of the sewing training. And we have an awesome team there that can run it.”

Lindsay said it’s not all work and no play and they always build local adventures into their itineraries. They go on safaris, they swim with sharks but their true focus is to help people one at a time, one school at a time, one orphanage at a time.

“We’ve set up projects on a scale of one to five and the ones are super fun. We'll go in, we'll bring food, we'll do these really awesome, fast things that change people's day and week and month," she said. "Level fives are how we are changing entire communities and empowering them to help themselves.”

Former Mrs. World Kaley Sparling is an enthusiastic supporter and said ROAM opened up a whole new world for her.

“For myself, it was a perspective shift," said Sparling. "We have everything and there's so much unhappiness and they have nothing and they're so happy. So who really has it worse off? It takes very little for us to give something that can make a huge impact on their lives. So it was such a shift of perspective of where I'm at versus where they're at, that really opened my eyes to the world in a way that I had never experienced before.”

Lisa Harbertson

Lindsay said we have a lot to learn from those she has served. “It’s hard to open your eyes here at home the way they get opened in a developing country. So hopefully you come home and change your community and neighborhood. But I just think that when you get to these developing countries, you realize that we're no happier than they are. In fact, I think we're a lot more sad and a lot more anxious. And so I think that's why you have to get out of this and be plucked and landed in there to really be changed.”

And, as ROAM hopes, to invoke change, one person at a time.