Go to any campground in the United States and Canada and you are likely to see a Jayco recreational vehicle in use. The widely popular Jayco recreational vehicle products are made in Middlebury by a company built and owned by the Bontrager family. And now, members of that family have committed to using income from their decades of success to help less fortunate people build success in their own lives.
The community learned Thursday that the Bontrager family has established the Lloyd and Bertha Bontrager Jayco Legacy Fund. The purpose of the fund is to put working capital in the hands of poor people trying to pull themselves up out of poverty in South and Central America and the Caribbean. There’s no charity intended, no hand-out, just a simple movement of seed capital from those who have it to those who are willing to work hard and put it to good use to increase their prosperity. We like that idea.
In announcing the fund, Jayco Chairman Wilbur Bontrager said, “The success of our business work provides us with the opportunity of doing our part to help the less fortunate. Our aim with this ongoing funding is to bring dignity and joy to the working poor throughout the Americas by helping them grow sustainable, locally owned businesses and farms that are not dependent on charity for survival. The difference between poverty and prosperity often hinges on the success of small businesses.”
That statement is a good summary of how America was built into a prosperous country. The formula of hard work, returning capital to the local community through employment and investment in new endeavors, and of not relying on a handout, is a proven recipe for success. The formula works here in Goshen and it will work in the poor neighborhoods in other countries. The Bontragers are certainly on the right track with their new project.
We are thankful that we have people like the Bontrager family in our community who are willing to use the fruits of their success to help others through constructive means. The “Legacy Fund” certainly promises to be just that — a legacy from today’s successful RV entrepreneurs to tomorrow’s small business owners across the Americas.