1998—Hurricane Mitch hits northern Central America
- December 1998: Hurricane Mitch hit Nicaragua, Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador. In five days at the end of October, it dumped meters of rain and killed more than 11,000 people. In response, Richard Gladstone organized the Nicaragua/Honduras Rebuilding Fund, raising more than $10,000 from friends from Boston. From that, the fund granted $3,500 to the UNIR project, based at the Pan-American Agriculture University in El Zamorano, Honduras, which purchased the PVC pipes and the cement needed to repair damaged potable water systems in rural areas. The project also repaired roads in five communities in the Yeguare River Valley, south of Tegucigalpa.
- December 1998: the Nicaragua/Honduras Rebuilding Fund granted $1,700 to a group of seventeen farmers in the rural community of Palo Solo, Nicaragua. The small-scale farmers had just organized into a credit cooperative when Hurricane Mitch devastated their full crop. They collectively faced default on loans. The farmers’ cooperative directly approached the Rebuilding Fund, citing the importance of rural credit cooperatives to the economic well being of small-scale rural farmers.
1999—Palo Solo, Nicaragua received high-quality roofs
- The Nicaragua/Honduras Rebuilding Fund decided to continue its work after the initial crisis of Hurricane Mitch and so became the Gladstone Fund for Progress in Rural Central America (aka the Gladstone Fund).
- December 1999: a committee representing all 29 families living in the community of Palo Solo at the time approached the Gladstone Fund for help installing new roofs, and, in some cases, a roof for the first time. During the eight-month rainy season, existing roofs would leak badly. The Gladstone Fund helped by buying high quality and durable fiber-cement roofing material for the families, and it paid for professional installation by a local carpenter. Each beneficiary family was responsible for the wooden support structure for each roof.
2000—Youth baseball program
- In 2000, our first sponsored youth baseball team received uniforms, bats, balls, and gloves. The children on this team were 10-12 year olds living on farms outside the small town of Nindiri, Nicaragua, located near the municipality of Masaya.
2001—Gladstone Fund continued work in memory of Richard Gladstone
- In December 2001, Richard Gladstone, retired senior vice-president of Houghton Mifflin Publishing Company, passed away. To commemorate his long career and service to the company, Houghton Mifflin (now Houghton Mifflin Harcourt) donated and shipped 7,000 elementary Spanish reading books to the Gladstone Fund for distribution in Nicaragua. In recognition of his work promoting reading for children, Scholastic Inc., another big publishing company, donated and shipped several hundred more. The Gladstone Fund distributed the new books among more than a dozen libraries and schools in various rural areas of Nicaragua, including Rio San Juan, Leon, Estelí, San Juan del Sur, and La Concepcion.