Meet Julie Hellmann, a former Water For People board member and committee volunteer, and see how one trip to Bolivia changed her life.
Tell us about your journey to Water For People.
My journey with Water For People began in 1998, shortly after graduating from college. I wanted to join a committee in the NC Section of AWWA (American Water Works Association), and the NC Water For People committee appealed to me as a new college graduate who wanted to change the world.
What drew you to our work?
Helping others motivates me. When I was in 6th grade, I made my first charitable donation after watching a commercial about starving children. In college, I became motivated to safe the environment after reading Silent Spring by Rachel Carson. So I immediately felt at home with Water For People. I am an environmental engineer, with a focus on municipal water and wastewater systems. Water For People was the perfect puzzle piece to unite my profession and my personal passion of providing safe water to all.
Tell us one of your favorite Water For People moments.
I have so many that it is hard to chose. But if I must chose only one, I would say it was when I went to Bolivia and saw first hard what a difference Water For People makes in the lives of those less fortunate. I met amazing Bolivians who were so thankful for Water For People’s programs and projects. Partnerships with the community, government, and university were fostered to build sustainable programs. It was a life changing experience to see how so many people in this world are living without access to safe water and sanitation. This experience was rewarding and positive, and will forever be tattooed on my heart. It made me more passionate about my career in the United States, which is to help people improve their drinking water and wastewater quality, and even more convinced that Water For People is making a much needed difference in the world.
What does Everyone Forever mean to you?
Everyone Forever simply means that all people should have access to clean and safe water and sanitation services now and for all generations to come.
What would you say to the communities we work with?
Thank you! Thank you for recognizing the vital importance of clean and safe water and sanitation. Thank you for asking for help. Thank you for partnering with others to bring about change. Thank you for trusting Water For People to manage the process. Thank you for your time, money, and physical labor that is required. Thank you for reminding me that safe water is not a privilege, it is a basic human right that is not yet available to all.