On a crisp fall day in upstate New York, our team at Water for South Sudan hosted a festive fundraising brunch: Inspired by Water: Celebrating 15 years with Salva. Held at La Luna restaurant, this venue boasted beautiful views overlooking High Falls as old friends, longtime supporters, and new acquaintances gathered to meet Salva, browse the marketplace of handmade African items, enjoy brunch, and participate in live and silent auctions. Local volunteers supported our staff as we welcomed over 200 guests to spend the afternoon with us.
Attendees first enjoyed time to mingle, take pictures, and explore the marketplace with African items that WFSS team members bought during this year’s trip to South Sudan. We had beautiful woven baskets, brightly beaded necklaces, and colorful purses. No two products were the same speaking to the fact that all were hand-made! There was no shortage of giraffes in our market as we know from years past these items are a hit. Giraffe scarves, statues, and note cards flew off the tables! Salva even signed the “Greetings from South Sudan” giraffe plaques to give them a special touch. Some of the very few American-made products were metal bracelets donated by Jordan Miner, a teen who created Jammin Hammer Jewelry with his mom. This duo donates proceeds from their sales to non-profits and has supported WFSS since 2015. Jordan graciously donated bracelets boasting the phrases “Keep Walking” and “Water is Life” to our event.
The Mount Hope World Singers gave a beautiful performance of two African-inspired songs to begin the program. To celebrate our 15th anniversary year, emcee Alexis Arnold, Salva, Board President Bob Shea, and Executive Director Lynn Malooly recognized Board members, noted accomplishments since drilling the first well in 2005, and shared what is coming next for the water, hygiene, and sanitation programs.
Our team also recognized local supporters who have made extraordinary contributions to the organization over the years. The third annual Founder’s Award, established to recognize individuals who have been longtime donors, friends, and advocates of WFSS, was presented to St. Paul’s Episcopal Church. From Salva’s first weeks in the United States and continuing today, St. Paul’s has been an unwavering financial and organizational supporter.
Salva then presented Board member Angelique Stevens with the third annual Long Walk Award. Created to recognize individuals who have demonstrated great passion for the work of WFSS and made transformational contributions, this award speaks to Stevens’ dedication during her two trips to South Sudan, and assistance in developing our monitoring and evaluation and well rehab projects.
The program concluded with the marketplace practically empty, each guest having spoken with Salva, and a content staff that everything had run smoothly. A great time was had by all and attendees were generous in their support. We enjoyed a successful celebration of 15 years dedicated to transforming lives! Some of our favorite photos from the event are below. Please feel free to download and share them as you wish, but be sure to tag WFSS in any social media postings!
A final acknowledgement goes out to our sponsors as the event would not be possible without their support. Thank you to the following groups and individuals:
Salva’s Circle: The William and Sheila Konar Foundation
Village Circle: Bond Benefits Consulting
15th Anniversary Circle: Cricket on the Hearth; Holocaust, Genocide, and Human Rights Project at Monroe Community College
Drilling Circle: Alouette Tool Company; Cornerstone Advisory Group; St. Paul’s Episcopal Church
Seeds of Change: Best Times Financial; Sue Coia; Cook Communications; Nancy Curme; Fish and Crown Creative; Nancy and Robert Frank; Global Precision Products; Laura Hayden; Heveron and Company; Christopher and Louise Moore; Penfield Rotary Club; RIT School of Communication; Bob Shea and Kate Weisskopf; Anne Turner and Harry Bohrs; Paula Vargas