Grant Proposal and
Business Plan Copy
November 30, 2004
This document contains confidential and proprietary
Information belonging exclusively to The Caravan Connection
Les Paul Zerbe
Chief Executive Officer
356 Louise Lane
Fairbanks, Alaska 99709
Caravan Connection Grant Proposal June 23, 2004 2
The Caravan Connection Grant Proposal
II. VISION AND MISSION STATEMENT
The Caravan Connection is a faith-based flying service, dedicated to assisting remote peoples.
Our mission is to provide religious, educational, medical, humanitarian, scientific, and social
ministry internationally in areas where transportation systems have remained unchanged for over a
hundred years or where vast distances impose transportation hardships. This mission is
implemented through the use of specialized aircraft, flying personnel into remote areas to provide
services, as well as flying people out from the villages to places where services can be provided.
HISTORY AND NOTEWORTHY ACHIEVEMENTS
In 1973, Les Zerbe began flying for missionaries in Liberia, West Africa, later continuing this
ministry in Alaska. He established and ran Wilderness Skills Youth Camp in 1983-85 teaching
survival skills, weapon usage and safety, mountain climbing, white-water rafting, introduction to
flying, Scripture memorization and Biblical principles training on life choices.
In 1993, Les established The Caravan Connection as a 501-(c)(3) nonprofit corporation EIN 92-
0148898. Since its inception as a transportation service, The Caravan Connection has been
primarily involved in assisting various other non-profits in their efforts to work in very needy regions
of the world. We have flown representatives from various faith-based groups to their ministry
locations in the Caribbean, Mexico, Canada, Alaska and other parts of the United States. We have
flown work teams to rebuild a Christian college damaged by Hurricane Hugo in St. Thomas, Virgin
Islands, built hostels, youth camps, churches and flown a dentist to Siberia for humanitarian
purposes. We have facilitated a shipment of 80,000 pounds of Bibles into Siberia.
In the scientific realm, we have flown a scientific team from ―Answers in Genesis‖, a nonprofit
organization, to a remote Aleutian Island to document and collect samples of a petrified sequoia
forest. We have partnered with that group to plan the logistics of flying a scientific team to remove
a frozen dinosaur discovered in permafrost on a river bluff in Northern Alaska.
To better accomplish our mission of transporting personnel to and from remote work projects both
statewide and internationally, The Caravan Connection has need for specialized aircraft – a Pilatus
12 and a Cessna 185, 206 or Caravan equipped with floats and skis.
To focus on assisting the youth of Alaska, The Caravan Connection is seeking to develop a
nonprofit campground and retreat facility for year round use and a boarding high school on the site.
Each aircraft and the camp facility will require hangar space and a perpetual endowment fund for
ongoing operations providing for shortfalls in annual revenue appeals.
WHY NECESSARY AT THIS TIME
Humanitarian projects to remote peoples without any road systems cannot take place without
adequate transportation. The Caravan Connection has been known since 1993 to many
organizations that now have many projects underway, but cannot get to them because of
transportation needs or lack of funding.
Caravan Connection Grant Proposal June 23, 2004 3
Additionally several agencies have asked us to assist in new areas. Our current airplane, an aging
Cessna 206, is limited in that it carries only five passengers with little baggage at 150 mile per hour.
It does not have de-ice capability and can be limited by bad weather. It is useable only on land. It
requires avgas which is not available in all the locations to which we have been asked to expand
The Pilatus carries 11 passengers with baggage at 330 miles per hour, superior in range and
payload. It has de-ice capability. It burns jet fuel which is available everywhere in the world and
provides turbine powered reliability for safety over water and land. Yet, it is a single engine aircraft
and, therefore, more affordable for a nonprofit organization.
Building a new camp–retreat facility needs to be funded at this time because of the serious
problems facing Alaska’s youth, particularly, but not exclusively from Eskimo and Indian villages,
who are ill prepared for adult life. Substance abuse, addictions, incest, teen pregnancy, abuse, and
suicide trouble Alaska’s youth. The Statewide Suicide Prevention Council, FY 2003 Annual Report,
pp. 2-4 delineates the seriousness of this issue:
Alaska consistently ranks among the highest states in the nation for suicide…. twice
the national rate.
For every completed suicide in Alaska, there are more than 4 attempts serious
enough to require hospitalization.
Suicide is the third leading cause of death in Alaska.
Suicide rates are highest in young Alaskan adults between 15 and 29.
Attempted suicide was the 2 leading cause (13%) of non-fatal injuries for children
Alaska Natives have one of the highest suicide rates in the nation, four times the
Alaska Native teens killed themselves at a rate of 110 per 100,000-nearly six times
greater than the rate of 20 per 100,000 among non-Native teenagers.
At this time a commercial hot springs resort complex complete with lodge, cabins and everything
needed for a camp has become available.
―Arctic Circle Hot Springs is a rustic resort located 137 northeast of Fairbanks, along
the scenic Steese Highway and Circle Hot Springs Road.‖
―The Resort is named for the large (nearly Olympic size) pool which is fed by a
natural hot springs. It is very relaxing and the view is beautiful. The main resort
building has several guestrooms (shared bathrooms "down the hall"), a restaurant,
bar, and sitting room. It has been called "very quaint," and the accommodations are
good. As well as the main lodge building, there are several cabins, which could be
described as "rustic," though serviceable, and are a bit more private than the lodge.‖
The community is northeast of Fairbanks, and 29 miles southwest of Circle, on the
Steese Highway and encompasses [54 acres]. You can either drive to Circle Hot
Springs, or take a airplane ride to Fort Yukon (just north of the resort) so you can
say you have landed north of the Arctic Circle (most airlines will give you a
certificate for it.) You can also make a daylong trip to Point Barrow and Prudhoe
Bay from the resort.
The area is beautiful, and you can use Circle Hot Springs as a base camp for
viewing much of eastern interior Alaska. A reasonably well-maintained, 3500-foot
gravel strip is next to the resort, and if you buzz the resort, they'll come get you in
their van. You will need to bring your own tie-downs, etc….‖
Caravan Connection Grant Proposal June 23, 2004 4
With a new camp facility and specialized aircraft, young people from remote villages can be
transported to a camp program focusing on wholesome decision making, spiritual principles, and
suicide prevention training. Additionally, we would establish a boarding high school at Circle Hot
Springs to emphasize positive character qualities and practical life skills, along with normal school
subjects. There will be an introduction to technical skills such as aviation, carpentry, mechanics,
computers, greenhouse gardening, sewing, and cooking, etc. We will coordinate as needed with
other agencies to ―Inspire and empower young people to prevent suicide and celebrate life!‖ (Ibid.
III. THE PROBLEM STATEMENT --
PURPOSE -- The need for our nation to produce drug-and-alcohol-free young people with no
leanings toward suicide is essential for the survival of the nation. There are undisputed pressing
problems in these areas. We believe that among Alaska’s native peoples, The Caravan
Connection can produce a role model for the nation in a well thought out, funded and executed year
round program. There are other programs that are not faith-based which only scratch the surface
of the problems of our young people. Without a good start in life for our youth, our welfare rolls,
state and privately funded addiction and homeless programs are only exacerbated. Like most
doctors of the day, most programs addressing these issues now try to fix the surface symptom,
rather than focusing on the root problems and root causes. We propose to help young people from
remote villages and other areas, who may be at-risk, to develop Judeo-Christian values and beliefs
and to teach them to apply these values in community life.
THE BENEFICIARIES -- The beneficiaries are people –particularly young people -- who live in
hard to reach areas of the Northern Hemisphere. Various nonprofit organizations and churches
working among these peoples would be benefited by the availability of transportation services. We
believe that instead of just giving people a fish, we need to teach them how to fish.
THE SOCIAL AND ECONOMIC COSTS TO BE AFFECTED.
―Suicide contagion is the exposure to suicide or suicidal behaviors in family, friends, peer
group, or media – and all increase the risk for suicide, particularly adolescents and young
adults. National estimates are that for every person who completes suicide, six individuals
are directly affected. In Alaska’s small villages, these numbers are much higher.‖ (Ibid.
―The Children’s Safety Network Economics and Insurance Resource Center estimates the
cost of alcohol-attributable youth suicide (ages 0-20) in Alaska to be $10,144,300 per year.
This includes $489,800 medical, $2,556,200 in lost work, and $7,098,300 in quality of life.
These figures do not include the economic impact of Alaskan adult lives lost.‖ (Ibid.)
We have been in the non-profit flying business since 1973. The Caravan Connection is located in
the central Alaska, and there are no language barriers in Alaska. We are well known throughout
Alaska as the Caravan Connection to and through other faith based operatives.
We have many more requests for aircraft support than we can provide. All other help in this area is
on a very small scale. We have been working with young people and providing transportation to
several youth camps for 20 years. Working with young people in an educational camp setting
produces results. They are our future.
If we have the facilities and equipment in place, donations and payment of user fees will help defray
costs. The cost of transportation and expense for each camper would be prohibitive for many young
Caravan Connection Grant Proposal June 23, 2004 5
people. We already have over a hundred donor churches and individuals. Once they observe a
good program in place, they will assist in providing funding for scholarships to campers. All
students in the high school will have work scholarships available to aid in the funding of their room
and board. We can obtain some revenue from adult user fees by offering lodging to individuals and
groups for retreats. An endowment fund is necessary to enable us to hire qualified personnel, to
make up budget shortfalls, and to provide additional scholarships to young people who cannot
afford user fees.
Siberia is just over 50 miles off our coast. With the Pilatus we can support several American
missionary workers already in Siberia. On a recent survey trip to Siberia, Les met the mayor of
Petropavlosk Kamchatski, a city of over 350,000 people. He has also flown missions into and
ministered to people in the Caribbean, Mexico, USA, Canada, Africa and Siberia.
Another pressing problem is that of the frozen dinosaur find. It is in permafrost on a river bluff and
might possible melt and fall into the river and be lost forever. The Caravan Connection has been
contacted to do all the logistic work, i.e. transportation for people to and from Fairbanks and the
work site. There are also the needs for facilities to feed and house personnel on a temporary basis
on site and to transport the dinosaur in its frozen condition to Ohio for study. Personnel would
include a geologist, hydrologist, photographer, historian, writer, and clergy. Our existing plane is
not adequate for that job.
There are 1 million Bibles ready for transport to Cuba. We believe that soon we will have
permission to transport them to Cuba. There are many faith-based organizations that would use
our services, if we had the specialized aircraft and an endowment fund to hangar, fuel, insure and
maintain the plane. Each organization would participate in funding their own projects. However, for
the initial purchase of the Pilatus 12 and hangar, for insurance, and for emergency reserve, an
endowment would keep the plane operating to serve the people and agencies with special
transportation needs. Additionally, an endowment would enable the Caravan Connection from time
to time to partially or totally fund an emergency flight or a flight that is part of a project that is in
keeping with our mission.
At this time our personnel consists of several volunteers, but our vision of business expansion
necessitates that we acquire the funding to hire specialized full time and part time staff. We will
always have a place for volunteers to help on all these projects; however, qualified personnel will
assist in the orderly growth and outreach of our organization.
IV. PROJECT DETAILS:
Goals and Objectives
Purchase two aircraft better suited to our needs—
Cessna 185, Cessna 206, or Cessna Caravan on floats and skis.
Obtain property and build a hangar facility to service the Pilatus.
Obtain property and build a hangar facility to service the Cessna floatplane or purchase the Metro
Field Hangar Complex.
Complete the small existing hangar currently under construction.
Create an endowment fund for insurance, maintenance, fuel, and various travel expenses.
Caravan Connection Grant Proposal June 23, 2004 6
Purchase Arctic Circle Hot Springs and Resort for use as a youth camp and high school facility,
which includes an airstrip, lodge, cabins, and outbuildings for a complete camp--totally furnished
Take possession of the facility --Obtain insurance
Publish brochure and camp application.
Hire qualified personnel as listed below.
Plan the first season for the camp and school—calendar, schedule, curriculum, menu,
and activities, etc.
Promote the camp and school among the village youth of Alaska.
Award camper and school scholarships as needed
Target goal capacity for camp and school first season is a maximum of 50 young people with a
combined staff numbering twenty-one.
The clientele are primarily the underprivileged youth of Alaska who live in remote areas. We will be
flying some adults as well to participate in an addictions recovery program. Also we will assist
other agencies involved in various nonprofit humanitarian aid. We will continue support for
scientific research with other non-profits organizations.
OTHER AGENCIES INVOLVED
Various faith based sponsoring agencies have proposed that they would send work teams to assist
in the building of a youth camp and send funding to build a new camp. They will also send
volunteer workers, staff and counselors to assist in the day to day running of the camp
We will be drawing on the wisdom and experience of Reformers Unanimous, a faith-based
addictions program that is currently experiencing a success rate with its clients many times higher
than that of Alcoholics Anonymous. Key personnel from the Caravan Connection will attend the
seminar taught by the founder of that organization to learn how the program works.
At times we will also be flying for a number of ministries and organizations that need transportation
for their own projects and personnel in Alaska, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Siberia. Each agency
will participate in defraying the costs of their flight.
METHODS & MILESTONES
We would be using news releases to local pastors, radio and newspapers, a website, mail to village
school districts, placement by State of Alaska agencies, and the ―mukluk telegram‖, i.e. Eskimo
word of mouth to locate the young people to attend the camp.
Evaluate and set new goals for the next year.
Long range --the State of Alaska should be able to see milestone success as the suicide numbers
Caravan Connection Grant Proposal June 23, 2004 7
V. NEEDED RESOURCES
All of our paid staff will have excellent resumes and experience. Our volunteer staff will be
screened and trained before employing them.
Chief Executive Officer & chief pilot
Associate pilot – A & P mechanic – part time position, as needed
Hangar – shop maintenance person
CAMP PERSONNEL –
The Circle Hot Springs Resort operated with a paid staff of 21 for a guest capacity of 50.
Although the campers will have daily responsibilities not required of guests, providing
adequate supervision of minors will require a well-trained adult staff. While some may be
volunteers, we need to plan funding for a complete staff
8-10 Camp counselors -- based on ratio of 5 to 6 campers per counselor.
2 Camp speakers and teachers
1 Maintenance supervisor and 4 Camp maintenance persons and cleaning staff
4 Camp cooks and 4 dining hall staff.
SCHOOL PERSONNEL consists of a headmaster, three teachers, and a flight instructor.
FACILITIES that will be used for the project.
New hangars and training room for pilot instruction at the airport
Circle Hot Springs Resort Complex
The CHS complex was developed around drinking water quality hot springs, which
produces 400 gallons per minute at a temperature of 139 degrees Fahrenheit. The
buildings include the completely furnished main lodge and cabins, accommodating 200
persons. The facility includes a restaurant, a bar, a souvenir shop, an ice cream parlor, a
small laundromat, an exercise cabin, swimming pool, and a large green house—all heated
by pipes carrying hot springs water. Although the complex has electric service from the
nearby town of Central, two diesel generators stand by on the property in case of
emergency. Equipment includes a large road grader, a rubber-tired backhoe, a 1975 Ford
pickup truck, a Dodge van, Satellite TV and internet.
EXISTING AS IN KIND CONTRIBUTIONS IN FAIRBANKS
Facility --Guesthouse—duplex with 8 bedrooms
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1976 Cessna T206 on wheels
Bobcat model 863
1958 Chevy dump truck
1989 Ford Econoline 14 passenger van
1984 Ford 1 ton truck
1989 Chevy Suburban (Gracie)
1985 GMC school bus -- 66 passenger
VI. ADDITIONAL SUPPORT INFORMATION TO BE PROVIDED PRIOR TO FUNDING
A. Board Members – Officers
At this time the Caravan Connection has three board members. All terms are perpetual or
until removed by resignation or majority vote. For resumes see ―supporting documents‖.
President-- Rev. A. Dale Reimer, aviation mechanic & inspector for US Air, Charlotte, NC;
and former missionary pilot in Central African Republic; elected to office June 2004
Vice President—Mr. R. Dale Wheeler, business owner -- construction company, Houston,
TX; elected to office June, 2004
Secretary/Treasurer-- Mr. Paul Merrifield, Finance Officer/Accountant for the City of North
Pole, Alaska; formerly worked as controller/accountant for Brooks Fuel, Inc. and Alaska
Aerofuel; formerly with First National Bank, Fairbanks, AK; private pilot; elected to office
B. Advisory Board
Rev. Earl Malpass, missionary-pilot-mechanic residing in North Pole, Alaska; former shop
supervisor at Allied Signal in Greenville, SC, in the maintenance of turbine aircraft engines.
Mr. Thomas Murray, former Caravan Connection board member and business owner --
Alaska Aerofuel, Inc., Fairbanks, Alaska.
Rev. Warren Compton –resident missionary, village of Selawik, Alaska, and formerly
working as A&P mechanic for Frontier Flying Service, Fairbanks, Alaska.
C. Financial Support Information –
(1) Current organizational operating budget
(2) Budget for specific project to be funded
Caravan Connection Grant Proposal June 23, 2004 9