Former University of Michigan athletic director donates $100K for clean water access in Honduras

Donation to help 2,000 people in garbage dump community access clean water

A cup of water is drawn from a faucet at Johnny T's Bistro and Blues, a midtown Jackson, Miss., restaurant and entertainment venue, Thursday, Sept. 1, 2022. Although it is no longer cloudy, owner John Tierre says he has concerns over the city's longstanding water problems. Some business owners report spending anywhere between $300 to $500 per day on ice and bottled water. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis) (Rogelio V. Solis, Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

ANN ARBOR – Former University of Michigan athletic director Bill Martin recently donated $100,000 to International Samaritan to help improve the lives of those living near a garbage dump Honduras’ capital city.

Martin, who served in the role at U-M from 2000-2010, donated the gift in honor of Kenneth Coleman, husband of former U-M President Mary Sue Coleman.

“For people living in the United States, who can typically turn on the faucet and get fresh water, it’s difficult to imagine that 2,000 people live near the garbage dump in Tegucigalpa without access to clean water,” Martin said in a statement. “This gift of water honors Dr. Kenneth Coleman for his commitment to partnership and improving the world.”

International Samaritan was founded in Ann Arbor in 1994. It aims to help people living in developing nations in areas surrounding garbage dumps to break out of poverty.

The entrepreneur, philanthropist and business leader’s gift will support the construction of a 20,000-gallon water tank, which began in 2022. In addition to Martin’s support, numerous donors raised a $150,000 for the project during the recent IntSam Global 5K run.

International Samaritan has been following the people of Tegucigalpa since 2008. The Buen Samaritano community has no access to a clean water supply and instead relies on water collected in rain catchers or transported and kept in unsanitary and used bottles. The people of Buen Samaritano live at the edge of one of the largest dumps in Central America.

During studies of the community’s water, the IntSam team found it contains high levels of feces, parasites, chemicals and other dangerous pollutants. According to the nonprofit, child mortality rates are higher in communities with a lack of basic sanitation and contaminated water.

“Water is life. It is a basic human necessity,” International Samaritan President Mike Tenbusch said in a statement. “On behalf of the Buen Samaritano community, we are deeply grateful for Bill Martin’s generosity and for recognizing Dr. Kenneth Coleman. The water tower’s message, ‘Con gratitud a Dr. Ken Coleman ¡Vamos Azul!’ gives rich meaning to the rallying cry—Go Blue!

“Blue as in crystal clear and life-giving water for the men, women, and children living in Honduras near the dump. Mr. Martin’s gift, in addition to the money raised by donors, students, churches, and runners worldwide, will dramatically transform the health and future of this community.”

The new water tank will supply 400 homes with sanitary water and construction is slated to be finished in early summer.

IntSam’s scholarship program supports students from kindergarten through trade school or college. Scholarships cover tuition, books, clothing, transportation and support for families, including food. IntSam is now providing 55 students from the area surrounding Tegucigalpa’s dumpsite with scholarships.

According to a release, IntSam’s leader in the capital city, Ronia Romero, was pivotal in the project’s success.

“We did not have $250,000 in the budget to get this done,” Tenbusch said in a statemet. “But Ronia was relentless in advocating for her community’s need. Our board made this effort a goal because of the transformation they saw in bringing water to our partner community in Ethiopia in 2021. And because Ronia was such an ardent advocate for doing the same for the Buen Samaritano community.”

To learn more about International Samaritan, visit

About the Author:

Meredith has worked for WDIV since August 2017 and was voted one of Washtenaw County's best journalists in 2019 by eCurrent's readers. She covers the community of Ann Arbor and has a Master's degree in International Broadcast Journalism from City University London, UK.