By Coastal Breeze News Staff
With a mission statement that reads “To build a business that blesses others in hopes that our business will be blessed,” it becomes obvious that Dreamlander Tours of Marco Island is not your ordinary for-profit business.
Owners and operators, Steven and Kieu Banks, built this eco-educational tour company with a vision of building a sustainable foundation to be the economic engine to help them change lives all over the world, as well as locally. As Kieu is proud to point out, “We are a small family-owned, philanthropy-based corporation. Our inspiration is not how much money we can make, but how much impact we can have in making our community and our world a better place.”
Dreamlander Tours is famous for its “Dolphin’s and Friend’s” and “Gator’s and Friend’s” tours, and $2 per person per tour — jet ski, boat, kayak, airboat, SUP and fishing — goes directly into the philanthropy fund. These are the funds that allow Steven and Kieu to operate local community programs, as well as give financial support to different families all over the world.
“Although we are very proud that our business is the No. 1 local tour attraction of Marco Island on Trip Advisor and although we are very proud to have become one of the most respected eco-educational tour companies in the world, it is our philanthropy program and the impact on people’s lives that it has made in the last several years that is by far our proudest accomplishment.” states Steven. “I truly believe that the foundation of our success as a business is based solely on our willingness and desire to use it as a tool to give back to others that are in need or less fortunate.”
Among Dreamlander’s philanthropic programs are Global Families, Community Programs and Awareness Programs. Through Global Families, Dreamlander provides financial support to families in need around the world, like the Uriostiugi’s of Cuernavaca, Mexico. The family consists of a blind woman, Leonarda, and her epileptic son, Roberto. Says Steven, “These are two of the most remarkable people I have ever met. She is legally blind and cannot see, and he suffers from multiple epileptic seizures on a daily basis, but somehow the two of them are able to maintain a beautiful home and take care of one another.”
Leonarda’s husband passed away at the age of 33, and left her the responsibility of raising five young children between the ages of 4 and 12. The oldest of the children, Benito, came to Marco Island to find work to support his family in Mexico. Steven met him the first day he arrived. The boy was just 12 years old.
“Through the many years, he worked for my wife and I, and became one of my best friend’s on the face of the earth,” explains Steven. “Four years ago, he was bitten by a mosquito and died of meningitis, leaving behind his own wife and children. It was his dying request that I make sure his mom and brother were taken care of.”
Dreamlander’s Community Programs allow the Dreamlander family to interact and be hands on in helping make “dreams” come true. In the last 12 months, the company has sponsored several local community events for lower income families, including providing back-to-school back packs and school supplies, sponsoring a community fun day in East Naples in October and inviting more than 30 families for free “Dolphin’s and Friend’s” boat tours.
Steven and Kieu are most proud of their community business mentorship program known as “START UP.” Based on the biblical principle “Give a person a fish, and they can eat a meal. Teach a person to fish, and they can eat for life,” the program helps people start their own businesses. Thus far, 13 businesses have been launched through the program. One — Ashley’s Media Consulting — was started by 17-year-old Lely High School student Ashley Rodriguez. Six months ago, she turned her passion for social media into a business. She plans on using the income from her business to put herself through college for a brighter future. Ashley’s Media Consulting is the primary director of Dreamlander’s social media and internet division.
Finally, Dreamlander raises awareness for several international organizations whose work is not only changing lives but saving lives. Among those organizations supported by Dreamlander are Partners in Malawi and Blood Water Missions. Partners in Malawi is the largest and only free HIV medical treatment center in Malawi, Africa, and Blood Water Missions builds hundreds of fresh water wells every year in third world and impoverished countries, including multiple countries in Africa, Haiti, and Guatemala.
These countries have an extremely high death rate due to contaminated top water, but in most cases clean, fresh water can be found underground. Blood Water Missions raises the funds ($15,000) and provides labor and technology to provide fresh water wells to communities in these countries. The average fresh water well provides fresh drinking water for 1000 people for 10 years or 500 people for 20 years. Because of the work Blood Water Missions is responsible for, many children and people throughout the world do not have to drink contaminated and diseased filled water anymore. To learn more information or to make a donation to either of these life changing organizations, go to, www.partnersinmalawi.org or www.bloodwatermissions.org
“To build a business that blesses others, in hopes that our business will be blessed.” That is what life is all about for Steven and Kieu Banks of Dreamlander Tours.