Faber staff members are consistently looking for worthy causes that need hands-on volunteers to achieve their philanthropic goals. So, when Patricia Wolfe saw a feature story on the not-for-profit organization Wine To Water, she wasted no time bringing the new service idea to the firm.
“My husband and I were having dinner at a restaurant and there was a video on the television monitor about Wine To Water and how they were constructing clean water systems in South America out of clay,” explained Wolfe. “I couldn’t really hear the report, but I looked into the organization later. At Faber, we try to do two or three days of philanthropic service each year. I found out that Wine To Water provides tiny, portable water filters to people in need and they look for companies to sponsor their builds.”
The origin of Wine To Water goes back to 2004. While working as a bartender, Doc Hendley first learned about communities in Africa threatened by their lack of access to clean (potable) water, and decided to do something about it. “When the idea came to me to start Wine To Water the only real job experience I had was tending bar. I dreamed of building an organization that fought water-related death and disease using different methods than anyone else. So, I started raising money to fight this water epidemic the best way I knew how, by pouring wine and playing music...”.
His first fundraiser resulted in a few thousand dollars. Shortly thereafter, he traveled to war-torn Darfur to bring clean water to people in desperate need. Upon returning to the United States, Hendley officially registered Wine To Water as a not-for-profit organization, committed to alleviating the world’s clean water crisis. Since that time, the team has grown to include seven members, ground partners in over 17 countries, and collaborations with over 30 international aid workers. The organization relies on merchandise sales, wine sales, and private contributions to continue their important work.
Each of their projects are undertaken with the following common goals:
For Wolfe, these goals made for an excellent day of service opportunity, which she brought to the Faber Philanthropy Committee for consideration. “They were very interested in finding out about the organization itself and doing something hands on.” The Wine To Water Filter Build allowed them to do just that.
Filter Builds offer individuals, organizations, and/or corporations the opportunity to help with the physical assembly of special water filters. These filters are commonly used to provide clean water to individuals in hard-to-reach locations, like refugee camps and areas affected by natural disaster. The build uses a ten-step process to construct water filters. Working in a team setting, volunteers assemble filters that are then sent to areas of the globe where they are needed.
“We wanted to get our kids involved,” explained Wolfe. “We had children as young as 4 helping to build 100 filters. Each filter was placed in its own baggy and we added personal notes to the people who would receive them on the other side.” Although the Faber team didn’t know on the day of their Filter Build where the filters would go, they learned subsequently that Wine To Water had distributed them to families in Puerto Rico. “Hurricane Maria hit right after our build. They desperately needed water filters and we had just built 100 of them.”
For Faber, this type of hands-on giving demonstrates an extremely important initiative of the firm. “I’ve worked in other law firms and been at Faber for just over 4 years,” said Wolfe. “It is the only firm I’ve been in that makes such a broad stroke effort at philanthropy. We spend 12 months a year trying to find opportunities to benefit the community. We all believe that these small donations of time really make a difference.”
Not only did the Faber staff and family make a difference with the 100 filters that they built, they also inspired young people to continue assisting with this worthy cause. One participant is working to establish a college campus Water To Wine chapter, and another is planning to sponsor a community filter build. “We would definitely think about doing it again,” said Wolfe.
Speaking about the impact that Wine To Water will have on the global community, Hendley said the following: “My efforts are going to be a drop in the bucket, but if I would have never taken that step because it was too big of problem, then we wouldn’t be anywhere right now.”