A village in Honduras may receive a major boost thanks in part to the work of a group of Georgetown students.

Students Helping Honduras, an organization founded at the University of Mary Washington last year and now a presence at five universities, including Georgetown, won a $10,000 grant from Razoo, an online community outreach site, last month. The site conducted an online contest from Oct. 2-15 in which members of the site could vote for the groups they thought were most deserving of grants. In addition to the $10,000 first-place prize, one $2,500 and two $1,000 grants were awarded.

According to SHH’s Web site, the money will go toward the construction of an addition for Por Venir Elementary School in El Progreso, Honduras, as well as purchasing seeds for the indigenous people of La Mosquitia, where crops were destroyed by Hurricane Felix in September.

“We were in second place in the voting up until the final few days,” Raymond Borgone (MSB ’08), founder of the Georgetown chapter of SHH, said. “However, thanks to a last-minute surge, we were able to win the contest.”

To win the grant, Borgone, a former HOYA sports columnist, and members of the other SHH chapters launched get-out-to-vote drives at their campuses. Because only Razoo members were eligible to vote, SHH members had to convince people to register with the site.

Borgone said he became interested in Honduras during his first trip there.

“My first trip down to Honduras with the founding chapter of Students Helping Honduras [at the University of Mary Washington] really opened my eyes to the conditions down there,” Borgone said. “I decided that this was an organization that needed to come to Georgetown.”

Borgone said the stark contrast in the living conditions he was used to and those he witnessed in Honduras stirred him to action.

“My first trip down to Honduras changed my views on what true happiness is about,” Borgone said. “It was the kids especially – if we can provide for them a proper place to live and a sound education, then they can hope to succeed in life. I want others to not only see but experience the conditions that really changed how I live in this world.”

Students Helping Honduras seeks to provide educational and economic opportunities to communities throughout impoverished regions of Honduras. Since 2006, the group has succeeded in beginning construction of a multi-purpose educational center in El Progreso as well as the construction of homes in the village of Siete de Abril. Together with local residents, the volunteers build cinderblock homes and schools at minimal cost.

“Every year, [SHH] organize[s] multiple trips down to the region to aid in construction,” Borgone said.

Borgone founded the Georgetown chapter of Students Helping Honduras this year with the help of 10 other Georgetown students. The chapter plans to make its first trip down to Honduras over winter break.

“Since we aren’t officially recognized, I had to arrange for funds and university aid through other organizations,” Borgone said.

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