With only nine dollars and a map, Robert Goodwin co-founded the Marblehead-based nonprofit Stone & Compass in 2014. Since then, the organization has been all the way from Bulgaria to Uganda and Kenya helping people in need.
“Everybody likes to travel … All of us travel and I thought, that’s interesting, what if I built a business, a tour company, and I built all kinds of different types of tours. And then any profit that I made, I would actually donate it to build projects for people in need all over the world. So that was the idea,” said Goodwin, who is also the president of Stone & Compass.
Stone & Compass offers cultural and wellness trips all around the world, including the Harry Potter — Magical Express tour, the Scotland Golf Tour, the Tanzania: Stone & Compass Safari and many more, according to their website, stoneandcompass.com.
In 2022, Stone & Compass grew significantly, tripling in size, Goodwin said.
“We just finished building a brand new hospital in Uganda, and that hospital is a huge 40-bed hospital. It’s going to serve a 50 mile radius community with free health care and health care for children. So that was a huge accomplishment for us,” Goodwin said. “And then we also started another health care clinic in Bulgaria, building a free health care clinic there.”
It also increased its organic farming efforts in Azores, Portugal. For the next year, he expects Stone & Compass to double in size.
“It’s pretty exciting to see, you know, everything really starting to sort of take off,” Goodwin said. “And so this year , we’re really focused on outreach and on getting more use abroad, more students abroad.”
Its intern program works with students from Marblehead High School. Now a few years old, the program has worked with about 200 students, he said.
“They also are part of our high school trips, and our high school trips go abroad and do service trips,” Goodwin said.
In the past, students have worked in Bulgaria, where they met local high school students in Veliko Tarnovo and participated in a “cultural exchange,” according to the Stone & Compass website.
Stone & Compass also has a bee reserve in Bulgaria that produces organic honey.
“Profit from each jar of honey that is sold helps to sustain our youth intern program and also goes towards scholarships for students to travel abroad to our Balkan Retreat center to work on sustainable projects in person,” the website said.
Goodwin said there are already some student trips lined up for 2023.
“This year they’re going to Scotland to do tree planting, going to the Azores to work on an organic milking farm, and they’re going to Italy to work with an orphanage,” Goodwin said.
Stone & Compass wants people to know that everyone can make a difference, he said.
“The more people who take us on … trips, the more people we get to help around the world. And that’s really what we’re trying to get people to understand is, look, if you’re going to take a vacation, you might as well take it with us and have a good time and then also change a life at the same time,” Goodwin said.