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Lanny York admits he quickly gained a lot of knowledge about chickens when he decided to found Project Poultry in February as a way to help improve the quality of life for poor families in Northern Honduras.
“About all I knew about chickens was they were good to eat but I knew nothing about how to raise chickens until we started this program,” the Parker business owner said. “It was a steep learning curve but fortunately the Hondurans who worked with us on the project knew all about raising chickens and were patient in educating me.”
York stressed the program is designed to be a hand up not a hand out.
“Volunteers build the 12-foot-by-8-foot chicken coop and provide 10 hens and a rooster as brood stock,” he said. “That is the helping hand part because the family has to provide all the wood needed for the coop and signs a contract that once they have the chicken, they will work to feed and take care of them so the flock will grow.”
A hen typically lays about an egg a day. About half the eggs are fertilized and the family agrees to not to eat or sell any of the fertilized eggs for the first six months so they will hatch and grow the size of the flock. After six months, the family is in business. They can sell or eat eggs and sell or eat some of the chickens. Also, at the end of six months, the family returns five adult hens to the program.
“I learned a hen can begin laying eggs when it is 4 1/2 months old. The eggs that hatch help grow the flock,” he said. “Most of the 10 families that began the program in February with 11 chickens had 25 to 30 chickens in their flock in September.”
When he decided to start the program in the mountains around the village of San Antonio de Cortes, he enlisted the assistance of local chicken business owner Pedro Sortososa and the local city government.
“Fortunately Pedro was willing to educate me about raising chickens and the mayor and local officials were willing to help me identify the most needy families that would benefit from the program,” he said. “Pedro works with us to set up the project for the family, then he manages the program by visiting families in the program once a week to assist them if they need help and to make sure they are doing all that is needed to keep the chickens healthy and the flock growing.”
York, 62, said he first went to Honduras almost five years ago to work with International Hope Builders, a Christian organization building houses out of Styrofoam blocks for families living in extreme poverty in the northern mountains.
“Providing a house for a family was fine but it didn’t help them shake off the chains of poverty,” he said. “About a year ago, working with local Hondurans, I established Hand Up International. Our first project offered to a helping hand by creating a scholarship program so children and young people could receive a solid education. In February, we started Project Poultry by providing a family with a chicken flock. The idea is for the new chicken owners to work hard at building the size of the flock so they can feed the family or launch a chicken and egg business.”
York was born in Indiana, raised in Southern California and attended Point Loma Nazarene College in San Diego, where he majored in business with a minor in ministry.
“We eventually moved to the Denver area in 1974 to follow my call to the ministry and my passion for missions so I could join the staff at Denver First Church of the Nazarene in Englewood,” he said. “I was on staff until June 1990. I went into business and continued to pursue my passion for ministry and missions as an individual, which led me in 2005 to join International Home Builders. I started my own mission ministry, Operation Hand Up International, in 2014, which is sustained by only by grants and donations. We work with and are affiliated with Christ’s Hands In Action, a non-denominational evangelical outreach organization enabling missions. ”
He and his wife live in Aurora. They have three grown children and nine grandchildren. York is president and senior owner of Mountain States Payment Network in Parker. His firm sells, owns and services automated teller machines for business throughout the metro area.
He said he plans to continue the scholarship project and Project Poultry, plus, in September, he started Project Plant, which helps poor families plant and tend vegetable gardens.
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