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A Drop in the Bucket: Wine to Water’s Efforts in Solving the Global Water Epidemic

Wine to Water Headquarters on King Street in Boone

By Savannah R. Watts

Thirsty? Grab a glass and fill it to the rim right from the sink. Satisfying, isn’t it, to have the privilege of drinking a glass of clean water whenever you want? To brush your teeth, bathe, and even cook with the water that comes directly from the tap in your home. Unfortunately, that’s not the case for many global citizens.


In the majority of the United States, most citizens have easy access to clean drinking water. However, not all countries have the ability to obtain clean water from sinks or otherwise. Referred to as the global water crisis, the inability to access clean water in parts of the world is causing an overwhelming amount of illness and death in young children and adults.


Rooted in passion for community and service, Wine to Water was established in 2007 as result of founder Doc Hendley’s dream of fighting the global water crisis His ideology that “water is life” grew from a personal philosophy into the premise of the organization as it continues to grow today. Leaving his job as a bartender, Hendley found himself working as the supervisor of water and sanitation programs with another organization in the community of Darfur in Sudan, Africa. This experience was the catalyst for making Hendley’s dream a reality.


In just ten years, Wine to Water has fought against the global water crisis by partnering with local communities in the Amazon, Asia, Africa, Dominican Republic, and Haiti. In 2017 alone, the organization provided clean water to nearly 90,000 people. But, that’s not their whole story. Wine to Water approaches the global water crisis by investing in the local members of the communities they partner with, defining the focus of their efforts starting with being human and conquering this water crisis together by surrounding everyone involved with hard work and a commitment to integrity.


Eric Huxley, Director of Operations, described their efforts saying, “Our work is not transactional. We want people to be a part of the community and to experience the gravity of the water crisis first hand.” Huxley’s own involvement with Wine to Water came as a result of his experiences with the global water crisis working with other service organizations throughout his life. He describes the focus of Wine to Water is working with the community in order to create intentional, long-term impacts that lead to “a fuller life for all people.”


Wine to Water’s efforts in the individual communities they work with involve partnering with local labor to build wells and ceramic filters, rehabilitate and disinfect wells. But it doesn’t stop there. They also work with community members to identify and empower local leaders for water committees, sanitation education, health promoters, and national staff to manage projects abroad. Huxley says, “It’s about humility in the field… coming [to collaboration with the communities] from a place of brokenness with a lot to learn.”


Last year, the whole Wine to Water team, in conjunction with their field office of Nepali citizens, fought the global water crisis in Nepal. The premier edition of their Annual Magazine detailed Wine to Water’s impact, attributing the success of the project as a result of what it looks like for people to come together, #OnPurpose. Huxley defines #OnPurpose simply: intentionality. Wine to Water’s belief is that solving the global water epidemic can only be achieved through people coming together with powerful intentions of dedicated service to one another. It is this power of community combined with intentionality that has helped Wine to Water continue to reach so many global citizens.


The organization’s dedication to experiencing authentic community has fostered what Huxley describes as a transformational impact for thousands of people every year–and counting. Wine to Water is not solely rooted in creating the feeling of authentic community abroad, but also believes in the engagement of domestic, local communities in order to solve the water crisis. They are continually striving for growth in domestic communities which will lead to growth in communities abroad. Huxley outlines some of the organization’s goals as being more projects, growing communities and inclusivity, but most importantly, more impact.


At the end of the day, Wine to Water’s efforts in solving the water crisis are an example of the power of community and beauty of humanity. On Wine to Water’s website, Doc Hendley says is best: “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 a problem, then we wouldn’t be anywhere right now.”


Head over to Ransom Cafe, where all the proceeds go directly to Wine to Water. Drink their wine from local retail stores such as Harris Teeter or Peabody’s Wine and Beer Merchants. Volunteer or go abroad with them to experience the fight against the global water epidemic first hand. Consider becoming a monthly supporter. Make your drop in the bucket.