Fly In To Serve Others changes lives in the Bahamas


The brainchild of the women of Current Island, The Bahamas, the Zion Children’s Home is a 16-bed residential facility for island children who have been abused and neglected. The recently completed home has two cottages that will house eight boys and eight girls along with house parents. To date, Bahamas Habitat has donated over $100,000 to this project, successfully matching a $50,000 Father’s Table Foundation grant which will pay for the home to officially open its doors and begin operations.

CARY, NC —  “I’ve marked off more things on my bucket list by participating in the Fly-In than anywhere else,” says Katharine Zimmerman of Florida. “The things I enjoy most out of life are spending time with great people, enhancing communities, being near the water and flying. We get to do all of that on the Fly-In.” Katharine is a regular at Fly In to Serve Others, a twice-a-year volunteer experience with Bahamas Habitat, a non-profit organization that partners with pilots, aviation professionals and people who simply love to fly, to provide dignified humanitarian outreach to the Bahamas, Haiti and Mexico. The Fly-In regularly brings together more than 30 people from across the US–pilots and people who just love to fly, like Katharine–to deliver much-needed supplies and support for island projects.

Rev. Gene Zimmerman and daughter, Katharine, helped bring the vision of Current Island, The Bahamas women to life through their work with other volunteers on the Zion Children’s Home for abused and neglected island children.

Rev. Gene Zimmerman and daughter, Katharine, helped bring the vision of Current Island, The Bahamas women to life through their work with other volunteers on the Zion Children’s Home for abused and neglected island children.

Katharine attended her first Fly-In in 2010, but her experience with The Bahamas is more than 50 years in the making. She’s been coming to the islands for decades with her father, well-known United Methodist minister Rev. Gene Zimmerman, who would preach, bring in ministers, set up vacation Bible school and, in recent years, spearheaded the campaign to create a home for at-risk children. Rev. Zimmerman and Katharine worked with a team of Bahamians and Americans, including Bahamas Habitat volunteers, to bring the vision of Current Island women to life by building the Zion Children’s Home for neglected and abused kids.  So, it’s no wonder Katharine’s assignment at the Fly-In event is connecting people.   “I’m in charge of event set-up and hospitality, ” she explains. “I provide the non-flying orientation as to what to expect once we arrive in The Bahamas. I help promote the event, show up with the boxed lunches, make introductions, answer questions, take pictures and keep the excitement going. It’s a pure joy!”

Open to both pilots and passengers with a passion for service, the four-day event begins Thursday, February 20, with lunch in Orlando, FL, the Fly-In “launching pad.” After a check-in, the group takes flight, arriving in time for a beautiful Bahamian sunset.  Friday’s work day has teams doing everything from delivering potable water and roofing a house to sheet-rocking a medical center and reviving an ailing vehicle. Saturday, teams finish up and then take the afternoon off for sightseeing. Participants return to Florida on Sunday. The registration fee covers accommodations at mission base, Bahamas Methodist Habitat’s Camp Symonette, and most meals.

“It’s not just four days that are exciting and interesting and then you go home and back to your same life,” Katharine concludes. “Friendships develop, lives change, people grow. This is not a charity; we’re not fixing people. We’re serving with people to make lives and communities better: the lives of Bahamians as well as volunteers and, by extension, the lives of vacationers–even the environment. People think they’re going down there to help the Bahamians but, more often, it’s the Bahamians that enhance our lives. This experience lifts everybody up.”

Bahamas Habitat is an international service organization that partners with volunteer pilots, aircraft owners and aviation industry professionals to fly their own aircraft to provide dignified humanitarian outreach to the people of The Bahamas, Haiti and Mexico. They serve by delivering disaster relief and basic medical, economic, housing and other services.

To register for Fly In to Serve Others and learn more about Bahamas Habitat, visit

Special Contributor to UMR

Special Contributor

This story was written by a special contributor to The United Methodist Reporter. You may send your article submissions to

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