Imperial Valley Press
Local nonprofit preps for Golf Tournament fundraiser to keep doing good in Africa
BRAWLEY – When El Centro residents Jim and Nancie Rhodes felt called to visit Africa over a decade ago they never dreamed it would change their lives, put them on a missionary-type path to serve thousands … nor that it would turn into an annual golf fundraiser 10 years later.
The nonprofit organization Burning Bush International (BBI), or BBiUganda, is an Imperial Valley-based organization that grew out of the Rhodes wanting to serve others through their Christian faith, bringing everyday necessities like clean water wells, nutritious meals, medical assistance, dresses for village girls, a “Goat Project” to help families out of poverty through trade, micro-loan groups, prison ministry and sharing the Gospel message of Jesus Christ in eastern Uganda, co-Founder Jim Rhodes said.
“My wife and I are people of faith and it’s just hard to explain … I just felt it on my heart in ’08 to go to Africa with this other group from Arizona and see what’s going on (in Uganda),” Rhodes said. “I’ve always been interested in reaching out to the less fortunate, so one thing led to another and we started getting more and more involved with that group … but in our trip there in 2012 we decided to bite the bullet and get more involved in terms of starting this nonprofit and overseeing (humanitarian) projects.”
Forming BBI in 2012 out of their home in El Centro, as more and more Imperial Valley locals heard what the Rhodes were doing to bring these necessities to their fellow neighbors continents away, local church-goers, those in the Valley’s agricultural industry and others started donating to their Ugandan-aid cause.
Some of BBI’s projects include: 40 deep water wells, with each well bringing water about 1,000 people per village; 1,600 female goats provided to orphans and village children across 16 villages to grow herds and sell-up to cows, “helping these children out of poverty;” micro-loans under the direction of BBI’s Uganda partner in 10 villages, which allow members to save and make small loans to benefit or start a small business; blackboards at 34 primary schools to aid in education; dozens of adults and children receiving medical assistants in the form of medical aid to afford their prescribed medications (under direction of their local doctors in Uganda); patients of Tororo Hospital and Aids Clinic receiving meals to combat malnutrition, also training parents in how to prepare more nutritious meals for their families; Imperial Valley volunteer seamstresses providing over 3,500 handmade pillowcase dresses for girls at the
BBI funded water well villages; and spreading the Gospel in prisons, hospitals, aids clinics “bringing encouragement to hundreds prisoners and patients,” according to a BBiUganda press release.
Rhodes said his homegrown nonprofit has donated about $1.1 million over a 10 year period — funds raised solely by Imperial Valley locals who support BBiUganda’s various projects.
In addition to other smaller fundraisers throughout the year, Rhodes said the upcoming BBI Golf Tournament is shaping up to be one of their biggest annual fundraisers.
“I don’t even play golf,” Rhodes chuckled when asked how good his golf swing is. “We had talked about (this golf fundraiser) forever but no one on our board really had experience in a golfing event for a fundraiser, but Jorden Tucker came on the board about three years ago and had experience running those events with Youth for Christ.”
Tucker, an Imperial resident, said coordinating the golf tournament idea just came naturally to him since he grew up with the sport, “plus I know a lot of people who play golf, so that’s helpful,” he added.
“The biggest thing I just have a passion for what BBI does,” Tucker said. “It’s not hard for me to do what I’m doing for BBI (with the golf fundraiser), it’s just a small way that I can contribute, but I know that when I first heard of BBI that I wanted to be involved in some form and do something.”
“It seems like (those are) the most basic necessities, but the reality is that there are still some places in the world where that’s not readily available,” the golf fundraiser coordinator said.
In the first year of the Burning Bush International Golf Tournament, Rhodes said about 4050 golfers participated. This Saturday, March
18, the 2nd annual BBI Golf Tournament looks to have between 70-80 golfers, he said.
Currently there are 16 teams signed up “but it would be great if we could get to 20 teams,” Rhodes said.
The proceeds from the golf fundraiser will go to BBI’s outreach in Uganda, “mostly the water wells,” Rhodes said. “There’s a lunch provided, a lot of raffle items, and a Hole-in- One contest where you can win a car, so it should be a fun time.”
The Golf Tournament fundraiser will also feature raffle prizes and prizes for first, second, and third places in gross/ net, as well as “Longest Drive” and “Closest to the Pin” contests.
“I hope the weather is nice and the people that play have a fun time where they’re able to go play golf, have lunch, and just get away from life for a second,” Tucker said, “but also when you pair that up with it being a fundraiser that’s making money for such a spectacular purpose, hopefully it makes everyone feel like they’re accomplishing something positive, and I’ve definitely gotten that vibe from people who have gotten involved (with BBI).”
“I think God has called Jim to do something for people that he didn’t even know, and that’s what we should be doing as human beings: try as hard as we can to love our neighbors and provide where others can’t,” Tucker said. “If we can make an impact from our little towns like El Centro or Imperial then I want to help spread this message.”
The Burning Bush International Golf Tournament fundraiser will take place on Saturday, March 18, at Del Rio Country Club in Brawley, with registration beginning at 7 a.m. and tee-off starting at 8 a.m. To register online or learn more about the Imperial Valley-based nonprofit Burning Bush International, visit www. bbiuganda.org. To register for the fundraiser by phone, call Jorden Tucker at (760) 550-1313 or Jim Rhodes at (760) 6046310.