What started out as a simple idea by a pool industry manufacturer could result in a service technician going to Africa.
In early spring, officials at Orenda Technologies, a maker of water treatments, decided to offer its customers a donation of up to 3 percent of sales in an area to a charity benefiting clean water as a way to give back to its customer, rather than offer rebates.
“[I thought] drinking water was more important than recreational water,” said Harold Evans, owner of Orenda, which is based about 30 miles outside Dallas. “The outcropping of the sale of our products in overseas markets is drinking water.”
Enter Annie Abbate. When she heard Evans speak about the program during a North Phoenix Independent Pool & Spa Service Association chapter meeting, she was immediately inspired.
For nearly a decade, Abbate, who owns Chem-Tech Pool Cleaning in Greater Phoenix, has sponsored an African child through World Vision. One of the charities Evans tapped for the funds also was World Vision, which drills wells for villages in Third World countries. The little girl’s name is Mariama Mballo, and she lives in western Senegal.
“Her village is one of those where the water they’re drinking is worse than what we flush our toilets with,” Abbate said. “This is a little girl I dearly love, and we could help her family. That’s kind of what kicked me to help out the next part.”
World Vision confirmed that the donations received through Orenda could be earmarked to build a well in Mballo’s village. Abbate made a motion at her chapter meeting to donate $1,000 and fund the well along with Orenda’s contribution. Two other Phoenix-area IPSSA chapters also have voted to donate funds for the $7,700 well.
“It was incredible for my chapter,” Abbate said. “There was a long and tough discussion to spend that quantity of money.”
It can take up to a year for a well to be completed after the project is funded, and Evans said he wants Abbate to be there when the well opens and meet Mballo.
“When I went to the meeting and presented this charity and this whole event went on and [Abbate] stood up and said what she said about her child she was sponsoring and how important this was for us to get outside of the reach of our own influence and own industry, my mind instantly thought, ‘This is the poster child for this initiative,’” Evans said.
He and Abbate are working to get more industry involvement in providing clean water wells. To date, other manufacturers and distributors have given Evans verbal commitments to be involved with the initiative.
Not only have more IPSSA chapters in the Phoenix area been getting involved in the initiative, but other associations also want to participate. The United Pool Association is putting a call out to its more than 70 chapters to donate to the clean water initiative, and UPA President Steve Homer will present it to the board.
“I think it’s an awesome cause,” Homer said. “I’m going to be pursuing that with UPA and see if we can pull together some support for it. … I have a real positive feeling about this project.”