World Wide Initiatives
How the Mitchell/Rushing Foundation Supports Grand Circle Foundation
Throughout its history, Grand Circle Foundation has been dedicated to giving back to communities along the paths of Overseas Adventure Travel tours. It is assisted in that effort by the Mitchell/Rushing Foundation, a charitable organization founded by eight-time travelers Quinn Mitchell and Larry Rushing of Temple Terrace, Florida.
Quinn and Larry spent a career in the construction industry, building custom homes and providing mortgages. A portion of the proceeds from each project was invested in their private foundation, which disperses funds every year to organizations such as theater, hospice, Doctors Without Borders—and Grand Circle Foundation.
The couple was attracted to O.A.T. because of its small-group ambiance and the opportunity to delve into local culture. “We appreciate being able to sit down and talk with real people,” says Quinn. “We most enjoy the school visits. We like seeing the kids and their educational process, and the facilities that they have.”
It was during a one such visit in Tanzania that they were moved to sponsor the construction of a cooking facility at the school. The next project they supported was the installation of toilets at a Cambodian school (pictured above).
Then, they turned to the students themselves. They asked Grand Circle Foundation Director Barbara Sirigos how best to channel their giving, and she suggested providing scholarships to young women in Africa who wanted to become teachers. The Mitchell/Rushing Foundation quickly pitched in.
One of the two young women they initially supported, Grace Ndlovunue of Zimbabwe, recently received her certification and is on her way to making a difference in the life of her community. Quinn and Larry wanted to continue their giving, however, so they reached out to Barbara for a new student to support. They were introduced to Rachel Kimama Wambui Wanjiro, a university student in Kenya whose mother recently passed away, leaving her financially distressed. The Mitchell/Rushing Foundation’s support will provide, not only tuition, but also room and board throughout her college career. She is now in her second semester of college, studying computer information science and software engineering.
“The more you travel, the more you’re exposed to different lifestyles and different ways of thinking,” says Quinn, who has been traveling from a young age. “It opens your mind, if you’re willing.” Quinn and Larry are avid adventurers, adding scuba diving, hang-gliding, and sky diving to their passion for travel. But they also know when to be cautious, especially when traveling to a destination whose cultural values are not always sympathetic to gay couples. They appreciate the sense of comfort and reassurance they get from traveling with O.A.T. More than that, however, they “100%” choose O.A.T. because, like their own foundation, Grand Circle Foundation is committed to giving back, with a special focus on education.
“Both Larry and I enjoy growing and becoming better people,” says Quinn. “The most important thing to us is educating people so that hopefully the world becomes a better place.”