Inspired by Water: Fundraising brunch takes place in Rochester, NY

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.

 The room is set for the event to begin!

The room is set for the event to begin!

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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.

 Reverend Rob Picken and Reverend Frederic Reynolds accept the  Founder’s Award  on behalf of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church.

Reverend Rob Picken and Reverend Frederic Reynolds accept the Founder’s Award on behalf of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church.

 Salva presents Angelique Stevens with the  Long Walk Award.

Salva presents Angelique Stevens with the Long Walk Award.

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

Inspired By Water Brunch with Salva Oct. 14 in Rochester

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Join us for brunch with Salva as we celebrate our 15th anniversary on Sunday, Oct. 14 at La Luna Restaurant in Rochester, NY.

Inspired by Water celebrates 15 years of bringing clean, safe water to isolated villages in South Sudan. In a historic building with a terrace and waterfall view, the event features a delicious buffet, handcrafted African pieces and paintings by Rochester artist Steve Roe in the WFSS Marketplace, and live auction prizes including a private brunch with Salva at Mario's Homemade Pasta Kitchen, and a dinner with Salva at La Luna Restaurant.

Salva will visit each table at the event to personally offer his gratitude.

Salva will also present the 3rd annual Founder's Award to St. Paul's Episcopal Church, Rochester, and the 3rd annual Long Walk Award to WFSS Board member Angelique Stevens.

12:00 P.M.  Browse our WFSS Marketplace
1:00 P.M.    Brunch is served
1:30 P.M.    Founder's and Long Walk Awards & Live Auction

 

Water for South Sudan and Alternative Gifts International Continue Partnership

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Water for South Sudan (WFSS) will once again be featured in Alternative Gifts International’s (AGI) annual catalog. This is the eighth year that WFSS has been featured. To date, this alliance has brought WFSS over $300,000 – enough to drill 20 wells. Twenty wells means 1,553,000 liters of water per day serving 13,000 people in isolated villages.

“We love AGI and our partnership. Many, many people who might never have learned about our work are finding us and donating through AGI. There is a great synergy between the two nonprofit organizations,” said WFSS Director of Development Cindy DeCarolis. 

We are grateful to all of the donors who found their way to us through AGI, and to the staff at AGI for continuing this extraordinary partnership.
 

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

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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.

Why We IGC: South Cumberland Elementary School

Eighth graders at South Cumberland Elementary in Crossville, Tennessee kicked off the 2017 school year reading A Long Walk to Water.

While many of the students had never heard of the country of South Sudan, each one quickly was drawn into the doubling narratives of Nya and Salva. The book’s ending made them hungry for more, which led to the school joining hands with WFSS and participating in the Iron Giraffe challenge.

Over the last three months, South Cumberland has had an ongoing race between seven teachers in our school to see which one could earn the most money and, in result, get duct-taped to the wall.

The students enjoyed dumping their money into their favorite teacher’s jar and hearing weekly updates as the competition has been sometimes tight between a few of them.

However, the Vice Principal of South Cumberland, Mrs. Mackzum, raised over $400 alone, making her the lucky winner.

 Mrs. Mackzum was duct-taped to the wall as the result of a fundraising incentive for students.

Mrs. Mackzum was duct-taped to the wall as the result of a fundraising incentive for students.

On the last day of school before Winter Break, the students gathered to watch the celebration of duct-taping and remembering the greater purpose of the fundraiser: to bring fresh, clean water to those in great need.

South Cumberland has raised $1,280 to be used by the Water for South Sudan organization during the 2018 drilling season. Thank you to all the students and staff for your creative and excellent fundraising efforts!

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

Salva Dut on Connections with Evan Dawson on WXXI Rochester, NY

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Water for South Sudan Founder and Senior Advisor Salva Dut, and Executive Director Lynn Malooly, were both featured as guests on Connections with Evan Dawson, on WXXI, Rochester, NY's NPR station. The show aired on Tuesday, October 10, 2017. You can listen to a recording of the live show here.

Salva was invited by Evan to share his story of walking out of Sudan as an 11 year old boy when war broke out in Southern Sudan in 1985. Salva recounts his story as a young boy forced to walk hundreds of miles, and then his subsequent experiences in two different refugee camps. Salva came to the United States after 10 years of living in refugee camps and walking. He was moved to Rochester, NY in 1996.

Here's a sampling of some of the questions in the interview:

Evan: Did you ever think you would talk to family again? Did you have anyone you were close to that you thought you would have contact with?

Salva: First, there were people that I knew when I was in the first camp in Kenya, before they moved us to another camp in Ethiopia. At that time, most people that I knew were grown up people and they went back to fight in Sudan. I left with people I didn't know. The boys I left with were acquaintances, and they became my family.

Evan: So here in Rochester, what did you find?

Salva: When I came to Rochester, it was in February. In refugee camps, we didn't really understand what snow meant--we thought it was just something foggy. . . . So when I saw the powdery stuff coming from the sky, I sat at the window for an hour and just watching this thing falling from the sky. . . . It was really a challenge to see this different climate completely. ... I will never get used to it.

Evan: Once you got into the rhythm of life and you felt more comfortable here, what was it like to see Americans complain about things like this store doesn't have milk today, or I have to drive 5 miles to this store to get this brand?

Salva: It feels really funny--I couldn't believe that you would have such thinking to ignore the rest and look for other things so far away. When I went to Wegmans, I would just want to get whatever I could get. What happened was that my sponsor said, "Salva, don't get that, it's junk food" and I said, "what are you talking about? What do you mean by junk food? I need it," and I grabbed it because I did not understand what the difference was."

Listen to the full interview.

 

Water Works! Celebration Brunch in Rochester, NY

Water for South Sudan hosted Water Works! - a celebration brunch with WFSS Founder Salva Dut on October 8 in Rochester, NY.

Supporters from the Rochester area and beyond came together to celebrate our successes, hear updates from Salva and joined us in honoring long-time WFSS supporters.

Salva presented the Founder's Award to long-time WFSS Board members Glenn M. Balch, Jr., Nancy Curme, Jack McKelvey and Carol Snook. 

Salva presented the Long Walk Award to the Turner Family to honor their long-time and continued involvement and generosity towards WFSS. John Turner was WFSS's first Chief Operating Officer, a position he held until his death in 2011. John and Carol, and their four children, have been enthusiastic and generous supporters of WFSS. Anne Turner, Jennifer Turner Deuel and Charlie Turner attended the brunch to receive their awards. Josh Turner was also honored. Anne currently serves as a Board member, and Charlie surprised all in attendance when he presented a check for $6,000 from Pittsford, NY Rotary Club.

Gross income for the brunch was $55,272.00. Expenses were $10,993.34 for a net income of $44,278.66. Thank you to all who helped make Water Works! a resounding success.

Special thank you to our sponsors!

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WFSS Donor Spotlight Shines on Alternative Gifts International

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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.

Salva's Boston Travels

WFSS Founder Salva Dut presented at TEDxBeaconStreet on Saturday, Nov 19, where he shared his journey as one of the "Lost Boys" of Sudan. Salva's inspiring and moving TEDx talk is available here.

Thanks to Boston-area WFSS Board member Anne Turner, he was also able to visit a number of schools, including three middle schools who had sponsored wells (Pentucket, Rupert Nock, and Concord (Peabody and Sanborn), and attend a teen event in Brookline. 

In addition, WFSS hosted Celebrate with Salva at the Waterworks Museum on Nov. 17. Supporters came from all over the Boston area; a few "super supporters" traveled much farther, including some teachers from Plattsburgh, NY, but the prize went to Gladys Mouton and her son Stephen who drove 26 hours from Louisiana to meet Salva, their hero!

Watch Salva's moving and inspiring TEDx talk.

Watch Salva's inspiring TEDx talk, where he tells of his journey as a "Lost Boy" of Sudan.

School Visits in Boston

Thanks for the warm welcome from Pentucket & Rupert Nock Middle Schools, Mario Umana School, Beacon Academy, and Concord Middle School (Peabody & Sanborn). 

Thanks to all who came out to meet Salva and WFSS! Salva lives in Africa now, and only travels to the US about twice a year. Schools around the world do have the opportunity to win a visit with Salva through our Iron Giraffe Challenge. Each school year WFSS challenges schools to raise at least $1,000 for WFSS. Schools who complete the challenge by the deadline are then entered into a drawing to win a visit from Salva. Details available here. 2017 pledge forms due Feb. 15. All funds are due March 31, 2017.

 

Waterworks Museum Celebration

We had a wonderful time at the lovely Metropolitan Waterworks Museum in Boston. We met many supporters, including a number of teachers and students. Salva shared his story and was able to visit with many attendees, who were also able to visit the impressive displays of early municipal water systems.

TEDxBeaconStreet and Brookline Teen Center

Salva shared his story of hope and perseverance at TEDxBeaconStreet on Nov. 19, 2016. Watch his talk here. Thank you to the Brookline Teen Center for hosting our final event in Boston, where Salva again told of his journey as a "Walking Boy." We enjoyed meeting so many enthusiastic supporters, many of whom had read the New York Times bestseller A Long Walk to Water, by award-winning author Linda Sue Park.

Salva is now back home in Africa, helping the WFSS teams prepare for our upcoming season. Thanks to supporters in Boston, across the US, and around the world, WFSS will continue to transform lives in South Sudan. Stay in touch with WFSS on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. You can also sign up for our email newsletter here. Please share our story and help us do even more.