Super Supporter of the Month: Medtronic Neurovascular

 Villagers in Parot Aker village in South Sudan where Medtronic Neurovascular's first well was drilled this year.

Villagers in Parot Aker village in South Sudan where Medtronic Neurovascular's first well was drilled this year.

When John Zehren’s wife came home from a school event talking about the book A Long Walk to Water he instantly wanted to read the book. Inspired by Salva’s story, John shared it with one of his trainers, Michelle Malinowski, who had just returned from a medical mission.

John, who is Vice President of Sales at Medtronic Neurovascular, and Michelle, who is a Field Education Consultant, conceived the idea of live streaming Salva into their National Sales meeting. Following Salva’s live stream presentation an astonishing $18,000 was raised in 20 minutes from Medtronic’s field representatives.

Medtronic’s Mission in Motion for global outreach programs sponsors initiatives that support the community and also help to ensure sustainable solutions to key societal challenges.

“Providing a platform where we can do something bigger than us, and with a global perspective, is pretty great. It also aligns with our values as Medtronic employees and our global outreach efforts,” John commented.  

Medtronic Neurovascular sponsored a well that was drilled during the 2018 season in the Parot Aker village in South Sudan, and they are well on their way to funding a second well. To date, Medtronic’s employees have collectively donated more than $28,000. “Everyone should have access to clean water. We are so fortunate here in America,” said John.

“Corporate partnerships are a win-win; they strengthen our overall fundraising program and give employees a meaningful way to make a global impact,” said WFSS Director of Development Cindy DeCarolis. "This partnership with Medtronic has been very fortunate, and has allowed us to do great work in South Sudan."

Water for South Sudan is so grateful to John, Michelle, and the dozens of Medtronic employees and friends who have donated to make clean water a reality for the people of Parot Aker village in South Sudan.

H2O for Life: Long-time WFSS Collaborator and Super Supporter

Water for South Sudan is proud to highlight H2O for Life, an organization that has supported our mission and services since 2008 using an incredibly unique and exceptional approach. 

H2O for Life provides a service-learning opportunity for schools in the United States that helps teachers and students raise awareness about the global water crisis while taking action to provide funds for a water, sanitation, and hygiene education project for a partner school in the developing world. H2O for Life is small, but mighty. Their international office is located in White Bear Lake, MN, where five staff members power their operations. 

Their backstory: Founder of H2O for Life Patty Hall was a teacher at Highview Middle School, MN in 2006 when she received a request from a friend in Kenya to assist them to fund a water project for their village. She introduced the project to her students at the time, who embraced the challenge and raised $13,000. Throughout the project, students learned about the global water crisis and connected with the Kenyan local community. This service-learning success led to additional projects and a relationship with WFSS as an implementing partner.

Over the course of their many years of partnership with WFSS, H2O for Life has facilitated over $250,000 in donations from schools all over the US.

 A well sponsored this year by Stillwater Junior High School through H2O for Life.

A well sponsored this year by Stillwater Junior High School through H2O for Life.

Patty first heard about WFSS through a Rotary Club connection in San Diego, California. One of the Rotarians she met there mentioned that his club was working with Salva Dut in South Sudan. The partnership with WFSS began during the 2008 school year. On that same visit to San Diego, H2O for Life met one of the authors of the book They Poured Fire on us from the Skyanother book about South Sudan. One of the Sudanese authors of the book was scheduled to speak at a local school near H2O for Life’s office in Minnesota. Teacher Sara Damon of that school embedded curriculum into her classroom, and through a collaboration with H2O for Life, donated more than $80,000 over eight years raised by her students for WFSS. She and her students are rock-stars!

Now, teachers and students fundraising through H2O for Life work collaboratively to take actions to raise funds to support implementation of wells by WFSS. WFSS provides photos of completed projects that allow our participating students to see the impact of their fundraising actions. The hope is to provide opportunities for youth to become global citizens who will be future advocates and champions for our global water resources.

"H2O for Life searches for partners that believe in engaging youth to become leaders of change. Our program focuses on providing educational opportunities for youth to learn about the important global issue--WATER. WFSS shares our vision!" -Steve Hall, H2O for Life

Thank you to Patty and Steve Hall, and all the many, many students and teachers who have made this collaboration so successful over the years!


WFSS Super Supporters Ann and Brian

Water for South Sudan (1).png

WFSS is supported by generous donors from all 50 US states and 44 other countries. Our donors contribute in ways large and small to enable our work. We are pleased to shine our donor spotlight this month on Brian and Ann, a couple from New Hampshire who were inspired by Salva’s story and have been moved to become regular donors.

Ann remembers reading one of the first news stories about Salva in the early years of Water for Sudan. “It touched me in so many ways,” she recalls. She said that she and her husband were at a point in their lives where, having finished paying their children’s college tuition, were looking for a way to be more focused in their charitable giving.

“I was immediately taken by Salva’s story and decided that this was something I wanted to become involved with.”

Ann noted the growth of WFSS in the years they have been supporting the organization, and appreciates the personal attachment and involvement they feel towards WFSS. She also appreciates how much impact there can be from a relatively small donation.

“You can help put in a well, and that affects so many people—especially the women who’ve been walking great distances to get water. There is an impact on hygiene, health, and safety for girls and women, who can possibly be educated when they’re no longer walking for water.”

While she respects all the areas in which WFSS works, for her, “it’s all about the water. It’s what the title of the organization suggests. Clean water is such a basic human need.”

Ann shared that she has mentioned Salva a few times, at her church and at work, and several times in response to a favorite icebreaker question, “who would you most like to have dinner with?” she mentions Salva, and is pleased that she was finally able to meet Salva in 2016.

“I admire Salva so much, returning to his country to help. For me, living in the US, with access to education and the ability to earn a living wage, makes me want to share and help others. I can’t imagine the obstacles he has faced. The more I learn about the country and its people, the more I want to help them and this is the way to do it.”

Thank you Ann and Brian, and all of our supporters who continue to help us help the people of South Sudan.

WFSS Fundraising Students Win Philanthropy Award

 Greece Athena principal Jason Fulkerson, teacher Vicki Richardson, students Ellie Dermody, Elliot Honan, Halie Cardon, Audrey Coons with WFSS Executive Director Lynn Malooly and WFSS Board member Laura Hayden at AFP Awards Luncheon.

Greece Athena principal Jason Fulkerson, teacher Vicki Richardson, students Ellie Dermody, Elliot Honan, Halie Cardon, Audrey Coons with WFSS Executive Director Lynn Malooly and WFSS Board member Laura Hayden at AFP Awards Luncheon.

President Ronald Reagan declared November 15th National Philanthropy Day in 1986. Every year since, communities around the world have hosted events to celebrate individuals, foundations, corporations, and others engaged in philanthropy. On November 3rd, the Genesee Valley Chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals held its annual National Philanthropy Day Luncheon, honoring Rochesterians who have made tremendous impact through their philanthropic efforts.

Among the honorees was Greece Athena Cares, nominated by WFSS Executive Director Lynn Malooly for Outstanding Young People in Philanthropy – Group. After reading Linda Sue Park’s A Long Walk to Water (ALWTW), a group of students at Greece Athena Middle School were inspired to get involved. “Athena Cares has raised over $14,000 for WFSS since 2014,” says Lynn Malooly. “Not only have they involved their school, but they’ve reached out to their community, creating a beautiful synergy.”

Greece Athena Cares started five years ago as a charity group dedicated to raising funds for Water for South Sudan. Three years ago the group branched out raise funds for other nonprofits, including Greece Residents Assisting Stray Pets and CURE Childhood Cancer. Greece Athena Cares has about 20 active participants under the supervision of seventh grade ELA teacher Vicki Richardson. “We typically do schoolwide fundraisers,” says Richardson. “We’ve had a couple of walks for water where kids would get donations and they would walk and donate the funds to Water for South Sudan.”

Lynn further noted how inspiring it to see the fundraising efforts of Athena students, and students from around the world. “When I look at these young people, at this stage in their lives, and know they've made such a difference, I know it changes their lives. Then I ask, 'What else can they do?'"

There are schools in all fifty states and many other countries that read ALWTW, inspiring students to help by raising money for WFSS.

“We are grateful to Linda Sue Park for writing this wonderful book and to all of the children around the world who help the children of South Sudan,” says WFSS Founder Salva Dut. 

Watch Inspiring Video about Athena Cares

WFSS Donor Spotlight Shines on Alternative Gifts International

AGI logo.jpg

WFSS is pleased to put the donor spotlight on Wichita, Kansas based Alternative Gifts International (AGI). WFSS and AGI have had a successful partnership for seven years and counting. Since 2005, AGI has contributed $301,994 to WFSS, bringing safe water to thousands of people.

Alternative Gifts International produces the “Gifts Inspiring Change” catalog of unique gifts. They are gifts of peace and justice, gifts that are sustainable and that build security. These alternative gifts multiply and grow, sometimes exponentially, and offer hope and new life to people facing grave crises and need. They challenge the trivia of our modern culture. These are authentic gifts that people really use and cherish. They always fit and are never thrown away. Among these gifts are supplies to install a water well and pumps for WFSS.

AGI Executive Director Surinder Moore shared her reflections on the ongoing collaboration between AGI and WFSS: "Our annual catalog features the “Fresh Water Wells” project on their behalf.  Our donors and gift market hosts have responded to the need to provide clean water:  In the last 5 years alone we have raised over $181,000 for this program. This is through a collective giving from individual donations and gifts purchased at Alternative Gift Markets held at churches and schools across the nation.  

"I think what resonates with donors is that fact that lack of access to clean water is still a problem in 21st century.  In telling Salva Dut’s story to audiences, I think people are also inspired by the fact that change happens with one person decides to do something about an issue. We are proud to partner with WFSS and look forward to offering their program as a way for people to gift alternatively in the coming years."

WFSS cherishes its partnership with AGI and we are grateful to those who support WFSS through the “Gifts Inspiring Change” catalog.