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Don Martineau is a man with a mission. Through his service on the board of I Love Orphans.com, he has developed a deep passion for humanitarian work in Uganda.
For the past 10 years, Martineau, who retired from a job in the financial industry, has been instrumental in the construction of a much-needed Children's Center in this extremely poor African country, which is not much bigger than the state of Oregon. He helped raise funds for the construction of an orphanage, and is now soliciting funds for an elementary school. A secondary school is scheduled to be completed by the end of 2010 thanks to the generous support of Josh Hamilton of the Texas Rangers.
"You can't help but love the people of Uganda," says Don, who lives just outside Kansas City, Mo. The people there have nothing. No jobs, nothing. The first time I went there, I spent three weeks. I saw two people my age. Nearly all the adults have died due to AIDS or malnutrition."
The work Don is doing today is grounded in his experience at Lakeland and his service in the U.S. Army. Don attended Lakeland during the Vietnam War, and in his last weeks before graduation he learned he would be drafted. Because of his Lakeland business degree, he was selected to serve as a 1st Lieutenant in the Adjutant General Corps. "I was lucky. My business degree helped me receive this particular assignment."
Don fondly remembers Prof. J. Garland Schilcutt as his most important mentor. "Prof taught Business Communication, among so many other things. I learned from day one in his class that if you can't communicate, you are in tough shape." Don recognizes the unique influence of Prof, saying, "Prof really made a difference in my life. He did so much more than a regular professor. Prof was a little more experienced. He took an interest in us personally. He always gave you the straight answer." Don also values the instruction he received from Lakeland in marketing, economics and business principles.
Within just a few days of being discharged from the Army in 1971, Don landed a job at the financial firm of Dun and Bradstreet in Milwaukee, where he remained for 32 years. The combination of his Lakeland degree and his Army experience prepared him nicely for his career. Also in 1971, he and his wife, Sue, were married. They have two sons.
While at Dunn and Bradstreet, Don held numerous positions in St. Louis, Memphis and Kansas City. Don's final position prior to retirement in 2002 was as regional manager for the Risk Management Services Division on the West Coast.
When Don retired at age 56, one of his sons was studying to become a pastor at Baylor University, and he encouraged his dad to join him on a Baylor-sponsored mission trip to Uganda. At first, Don really didn't think he would be of much help, but after much thought and prayer he agreed. "The experience was life changing," Don said. "I saw things that were amazing. I feel like the Lord led us to Uganda to do this work."
The orphanage, completed in 2009, is in Bukaleba on 2,500 acres on the edge of Lake Victoria. There are no towns nearby, no roads, no electricity. And yet there are about 2,500 orphans within walking distance of the property. Most are very young children without any extended families. Now, thanks to Don Martineau and the teams of volunteers he puts together, they have a home at the orphanage.
Along with being on the board of directors of I Love Orphans.com, Don is also engaged closer to home, where he has served as a volunteer the last seven years at the Kansas City Rescue Mission. Don has recently been asked to serve on their board. Don enjoys hobbies like motorcycling, sports cars, playing tennis and extensive travel. As far as what advice he would give recent graduates he states, "Be flexible. Be open to change. Success can often hide within change. If you are not prepared for change, you can miss those opportunities."
Don can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.