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Agape Provides Planes and Pilots, Takes Supplies and Volunteers to Hurricane-Ravaged Bahamas

by Caldwell Trust
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Bahamians have been struggling for survival since Hurricane Dorian made landfall on September 1. The Category 5 storm took everything from residents, especially those on the Abaco and Grand Bahama Islands. Now, weeks after the hurricane has passed, their need remains extreme. R. G. “Kelly” Caldwell Jr., CEO/president, said, “How can we turn away?”

Battered, discouraged storm victims may see little reason to hope—but Agape Flights is working to change that. “Your donation to Agape can help tremendously,” said R. G. “Kelly” Caldwell Jr., CEO/president. “I have spoken with Agape CEO Allen Speer, who told me they have been coordinating with other disaster relief organizations and are regularly delivering humanitarian aid to a staging island in the Bahamas.”

 

Residents lost everything, and today thousands of them still have nothing. No water, food, or clothing. No beds, no medicines, no electricity—not even a toilet. With trees and buildings gone, there’s no place to step out of the burning sun or beating rain. No way to find loved ones who are missing. Forget about cell phones, or even a bulb to illuminate the dark night. 

 

“It could have been us in need,” he said. Just a week earlier, the track of Hurricane Dorian had indicated a direct hit on the Tampa Bay area, including Bradenton, Sarasota, and Venice. The Bahamians face years of recovery and rebuilding. “I decided to send a donation to Agape Flights because I know it will have an immediate impact on their lives. If you feel the same way, please donate today towards Agape’s relief efforts for the Bahamian people at http://www.agapeflights.com/hurricane-dorian/. Caldwell Trust Company has supported the work of Agape Flights for years,” he said. 

 

Agape’s planes are on a runway in Venice, loading supplies and cadres of volunteers. Their takeoff on Sept. 12 was the first of an ongoing series of flights. Agape provides the planes, and pilots and others donate their time, but they need contributions to pay for fuel and other operating costs. They also request donations to buy supplies for the stranded Bahamians. 

 

A not-for-profit charitable organization, Agape Flights was founded in 1980 to transport supplies to its affiliated missionaries working in Haiti, the Bahamas, and the Dominican Republic. Their work has touched the lives of over 1.5 million people. The missionaries provide clean water, community health, education, evangelism, medical services, microenterprise, orphan care and vocational training. Founders Keith and Clara Starkey named their organization “Agape,” the Greek word for unconditional love, to describe their mission and ministry. 

 

Keith and Clara Starkey founded Agape Flights on October 24, 1980 and the inaugural flight left the Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport for Cap Haitien, Haiti, on November 15. The Starkeys chose “Agape,” the Greek word for unconditional love, to describe their mission and ministry. “God laid it on our hearts to buy n aircraft to fly supplies into Haiti,” said Clara Starkey. Although Keith Starkey passed away in 2014 at the age of 87, Agape Flights continues to serve as a lifeline from family, friends, and supporters to more than 350 missionary families in Haiti, the Dominican Republic and the Bahamas, an area that is home to nearly 13 million people.

 

Each year, Agape Flights transports supplies to its affiliated missionaries, touching the lives of more than 1.5 million people. The missionaries provide clean water, community health, education, evangelism, medical services, microenterprise, orphan care and vocational training. Agape Flights is a nonprofit aviation ministry transporting continuous and critical supplies to support missionaries, their families and their unique missions in Haiti, the Bahamas and the Dominican Republic. Each year, Agape Flights touches the lives of more than a million men, women, and children through its affiliated missionaries who provide clean water, community health, education, evangelism, medical services, microenterprise, orphan care and vocational training. Amazingly they will be celebrating 40 years of ministry in 2020.

     

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Planes in the Agape fleet carry supplies and cadres of volunteers on humanitarian flights to the Bahamas and other places in need of help.

 

Bahama Islands hold special memories for Caldwell Trust Company co-founders

The hurricane-raked islands in the Bahamas have a special meaning for Roland G. Caldwell and Roland G. “Kelly” Caldwell Jr., co-founders of Caldwell Trust Company. In response to a job offer, Roland moved his family--including his toddler son Kelly--to the Bahamas in 1968. 

While his parents were house-hunting, Kelly and his family lived joyfully for a few months on “The Rye Bread,” their 42-foot Chris Craft cruising boat. 

 

They returned to the United States, to Florida, in 1972, when Kelly was 5. “My father has fond memories of our time there,” said Kelly, now the company’s CEO/president. “I remember the childhood wonders of exploring the beaches, living on the water, and meeting warm, caring people. Our hearts go out to them.” 


(Right) Caldwell CEO/president R. G. “Kelly” Caldwell Jr. at age 4 image6in the Bahamas, where his family lived from 1968 to 1972.

 

 

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