June 20, 2018
Firstly, congratulations to the class of 2018 on completing your programs and graduating! It’s been a long journey and you have all worked exceptionally hard!
Another big congratulations goes to Don (Monty) Montgomery on receiving the Honorary Degree Award with the School of HRT. This award is presented to one individual who has made significant contributions to the College or the community and Don has certainly done both. He has been a keynote speaker for hundreds of students, and he has developed and led service trips with active volunteer and recreational programs for HRT students for three years. Don has a Bachelor Degree in Kinesiology from the University of Victoria as well as his teaching certificate, which he utilized for 15 years teaching and coaching high school students in British Columbia before making a drastic lifestyle change.
Don’s background story is not only interesting but inspiring. While vacationing in at a five-star resort in Jamaica, Don had an unexpected encounter that changed his life. During his dinner, he heard a voice from across the fence outside the resort. The voice belonged to a local who was asking for food because he was hungry. Without giving it much thought, Don reached over and gave his plate of food to the man. The man thanked him and left. Later on, he heard the same voice again. To his surprise, it was the man from earlier who returned the plate and gave Don a beautiful shell as a token of his thanks. This encounter made Don wonder why resorts are so often separated from the surrounding community and whether he could bridge that gap.
The trip and that encounter inspired Don to make a big change in his lifestyle and career. He left his job as a high school teacher and purchased a piece of land in Nicaragua. In 2007 he opened Monty’s Beach Lodge in Jiquilillo, Nicaragua on Nicaragua’s Pacific Coast. One of his main business objectives was to give back to the local communities of Jiquilillo, Padre Ramos, and Los Zorroz. In order to help the surrounding communities reduce poverty and making positive change, Don educated himself on the hopes and dreams of the locals and develop projects and initiatives that would benefit the community. He has also launched Housebuilding projects where the government matches the funds raised to build houses. He has built schools, medical clinics and has got the ball rolling on various wildlife conservation projects and much more. His Beach Lodge can hold a capacity of 80-90 guests and now has multiple cabanas and a lodge. Don wants to keep the surrounding community close, so he has no intentions of expanding the resort.
Thank you, Don, for presenting at our convocation, and for all the incredible work you continue to do!