They are philanthropists at heart; there is no doubt about it. Those who are close to this couple, or even have had the opportunity to spend some time with them, know how genuine, kind-hearted and generous they are. The two of them complement each other and share the same values, ideals and aspirations. It is because of their generous and kind hearts that Ambergris Today has chosen Kelly and Mukul Kanabar as Persons of the Year 2012!
Their generosity goes beyond their family and friends as they have reached out to their community in ways that few have. From moral support, monetary donations, sponsorships and driving the community to step up and assist in various charity and fundraising efforts, both Kelly and Mukul have shown that they have a heart of gold.
“We try to focus our giving on youth education and healthcare because we firmly believe that our happiness and our success are directly related to the health and well being of our community,” commented Mukul to Ambergris Today.
“We want to see Belize prosper and we believe that can only happen if our population is educated and healthy. We also support a number of organizations and community initiatives throughout Belize that focus on education, youth sports, and healthcare,” commented Kelly with a smile.
On the top of their list of charities is that of the Liberty Children’s Home in Ladyville, Belize, which received $30,000 in fundraising efforts from the Kanabars in 2011. Their fundraising efforts continued on through 2012 raising tens of thousands of dollars for the Home.
Another great initiative they have been involved in since 2011 is through their family of businesses providing a full scholarship for four years to San Pedro High School to one child of each employee. They employ 93 employees across all the businesses making it about 79 scholarships over a ten year period.
Kelly and Mukul own and manage three restaurants in San Pedro - Blue Water Grill, Red Ginger and Caliente, wine shop and distributor Wine de Vine and The Phoenix Resort. These successful businesses have aided them in their altruistic endeavors.
Ambergris Today celebrates with Mukul and Kelly Kanabar during anniversary party for Blue Water Grill
Mukul was born and raised in Houston, TX, and obtained a degree in Economics from Haverford College. He had met Kelly in high school and remained good friends through college. Kelly grew up in San Pedro, Ambergris Caye but left for school where she graduated from the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University. She then joined the Peace Corps and was sent to the Dominican Republic; she wanted to work in foreign affairs and be an ambassador, she said.
“I came back to live in San Pedro when I was 23 because I missed home,” commented Kelly. “I missed my family.” This was in 2001.
She opened her restaurant Blue Water Grill which has become one of the most famous on the island (winning BTB’s Restaurant of the Year 2009). Its success has been a blessing and a challenge, says Kelly, but she enjoys it.
Mukul was working for a consulting company in Boston before moving to San Pedro in 2003. He came to San Pedro to visit her and that was when, he says, “swept her off her feet with his romance and she would not let him leave.” The rest is a beautiful seven-year marriage, with the couple raising three and a half year old Mia Josephine Kanabar.
One thing that Kelly and Mukul are not is flamboyant with their personal lives, in particular with all the charity work they do. They are very humble, not wanting to be on the spotlight every time they extend a helping hand. They have helped raise funds and donated to the Dr. Otto Rodriguez Poly Clinic and quickly came to the rescue with $10,000 for the San Pedro High School Baseball team when they needed funds to travel and compete in the Panama Central American Regional Competitions. Furthermore, they keep sponsoring Government Reading Programs, Coral Ed-Ventures Summer Camps and the Tres Pescados Fishing Tournament, to name a few.
Kelly is an island girl; she grew up watching her small island turn into a busy tourism town. Mukul fell in love with an island girl and with everything that came along with her. Both have embraced the community and realized that helping it out and making it prosper it is a great way to bring happiness to people and complement their own happiness.
“There's nowhere else we would rather live,” commented Kelly. Ambergris Today is confident that San Pedro also welcomes their being integral and genuine part of this community. For their integrity, love of San Pedro, humble dispositions, philanthropic deeds, and genuine kind-heartedness, Ambergris today salutes Kelly and Mukul Kanabar and bestows upon them San Pedro’s appreciation with the PERSON OF THE YEAR AWARD 2012.