Gavin Tarquinio : lüō Co-Founder
Gavin graduated from Georgia Tech with a finance and economics degree. Following graduation, Gavin was signed with the Atlanta Falcons and played in the 2006 season. After an injury in 2006 he felt a call from God to pursue mission work and hang up his athletic career. He and his wife Lindsay live in New York City.
Lindsay Tarquinio : lüō Co-Founder & Executive Director
Lindsay graduated from the University of Georgia with a degree in Speech Communication and through various trips to Africa has developed a deep desire to show the love of Jesus to His people. She and her husband Gavin reside in New York City. You can contact Lindsay at [email protected]
In 2007, Gavin and Lindsay Tarquinio saw a need to help the children of a township in Jeffrey’s Bay, South Africa. “A lot of great organizations were out there, but no one was helping these specific kids,” recalls Gavin.
But what could be done?
Earlier that year Lindsay, a student at the University of Georgia, planned a 6 week trip with her friend Jessica Duncan to Jeffreys Bay, South Africa. A member, Ria Pieters, of the local church in J’Bay who had started a program to teach the women of the township different job skills like knitting, cleaning, and beadwork. She also provided lunch for them and their children as well.
Lindsay and Jessica joined Ria the summer of 2007. By this time word had spread through the township that food was being given out at lunchtime. 21 children came for some light schooling in the morning and 100 kids and counting accumulated at lunchtime. Lindsay noted that 24 rotting apples and 1 loaf of donated bread were not sufficient for 121 children. She met one 4th grader who did not know his ABCs, found out that 60% of the children tested HIV positive, and the majority had rotting teeth and filthy bodies.
Lindsay called and wrote to Gavin about the situation in J’Bay and decided that something had to be done. Lindsay asked the children to paint on 100 t-shirts and brought them back to America. In September 2007 Gavin and Lindsay hosted a house party and invited 100 friends. In twenty minutes all of the shirts were sold and including extra donations they raised $5000! Gavin and Lindsay intended on sending the full $5000 straight to Ithemba (means Hope in Xhosa) school in South Africa, but the God who stirred hearts to donate $5000 had much bigger plans.
Friends told friends and introductions to new people were made. Before Gavin and Lindsay knew what was happening, they were filing for their non-profit, 501c3 with the legal help of Tim Bailey. Gavin and Lindsay named the non-profit Lüō, pronounced Loo-oh, which is Greek for “set free,” and Lüō, Inc. was born.
One night Lindsay met Hannah Joiner at a dinner party. Hannah suggested they meet her father, Reggie Joiner, who founded The reThink Group, a web based ministry that provides Christian curriculum and hosts Orange Conference. In one meeting with Reggie, Gavin and Lindsay were given the guidance and direction for Lüō that was needed. Lüō narrowed its focus to its most important needs. $250 would provide education, nutrition, medical care, and Bible curriculum for one child for one year, and Ithemba school was feeding over 200 children at that point.
Reggie offered to present a video of Lüō at Orange Conference and suggested Lüō sell t-shirts again, but this time, for $250 per shirt. Gavin and Lindsay had their doubts. Who would buy a t-shirt for $250? That night two shirts were sold and hope began to sprout. With two filmmakers signed up to go, Gavin and Lindsay prepared to fly to Jeffreys Bay, South Africa. To commemorate their first trip to Africa together, Lindsay suggested they take a canvas with them to let the kids paint and hang in the Tarquinio home. The thought of having a beautiful painting from the children in her home got the wheels turning in her head. Maybe other people would like to have a painting in their home, too.
The night before their international flight, Gavin and Lindsay bought 45 yards of canvas and cut it into 200 pieces. The children at Ithemba school surprised the adults with their artistic talent. In April 2008 Lüō’s first video was shown at Orange Conference and all 200 paintings were sold with $50,000 raised!
Gavin says the first year of Lüō is a perfect example of, “God equipping the called.” In the first five years Lüō created relationships with the residents of Jeffreys Bay, South Africa to provide the best education, nutrition, and love possible for the children. Due to these improvements parents and children have learned the importance of brushing teeth, 5 year olds know their ABCs, Bible verses are written on the hearts of the children, young women have more confidence, young men know the value of respect, trade skills have been taught, and children who show a scholastic aptitude are now attending the local private school.