Photo courtesy of the Lovett family

They say you don’t have any idea what true poverty is until you visit a third-world country and see it in person. This was a lesson Keith Lovett and his family learned firsthand.

Lovett’s friend started Point of Impact, an organization that feeds and schools poverty-stricken Honduran children and provides them medical treatment. The organization was relatively new, so it worked with a few kids at this point, about six years ago. The group brought some of the children to the U.S. to enjoy an American Christmas. Gifts were given from a sleigh made with a trailer pulled by a truck. The children rode horses and played on gym equipment.

Lovett, his wife Mary Helen and daughter Samantha wanted to become more involved. “My family and I just fell in love with these kids and realized what was going on,” says the president of Hawaiian Pools, a building, service and retail firm in Memphis, Tenn. “So we went to Tegucigalpa, Honduras ourselves and saw it.”

Photo courtesy the Lovett Family

That visit was a wakeup call. “It has changed my views dramatically,” Lovett says. “Until you see it yourself, you almost can’t explain it. It’s that bad. It makes me feel a little spoiled.”

Now, POI helps 650 kids. Each child receives medical treatment, instruction through sixth grade, and a meal each day to help process the education. The organization hopes to position these children to graduate high school so they can have a better life as adults in a society where only about 20% see that educational achievement.

For the past few years, Lovett manages a golf tournament in Jacksonville, Tenn., and he helps with another in Memphis. The tournaments bring in approximately $150,000 combined for POI.

Lovett and his family also visit the communities in Honduras about once a year — more for Samantha, who studies nursing and Spanish at University of Kentucky, in part to help with her future doing more missionary work.

The pool industry has been moved by this work. Approximately half of the golf-tournament earnings come from pool/spa companies. The buying group United Aqua Group recently donated $10,000 to POI, one of the organization’s largest single donations.

“We’re very lucky to be in such a great industry and to work with people like Keith, who are willing to give so much back to people in need around the world,” said Craig Goodson, vice president of sales and business development for Las Vegas-based UAG.