Making a Difference

SFSW Will Present at the 2020 Children’s Water Education Festival – March 25-26
The organizers of the 24th annual event, the largest of its kind in the United States, have asked SFSW to help engage, educate and inspire to innovate youth about the world’s water issues and the environment. Our first-time presenters this year will include Matthew Limb, Kevin Kwak, and Dara Santana. Jack Dennis will be returning to teach and inspire the next generation to be stewards to the environment. We can’t wait to participate and are honored at our inclusion in the event.

SFSW – With Paccar Support – Assists Community of Tolinapa and Surrounding Villages – 2020 Completion 

Partnering with El Porvenir and Paccar, the Nicaraguan community of Tolinapa, Camoapa will soon benefit from a drilled well and water system.  Milagro Lily Jaime Sosa is  24-year-old woman who lives with seven other adults and three girls in Tolinapa, Camoapa.  The families in the community, like Milagro, have consumed polluted water their entire lives – drinking from an improvised well that they attempted to hand build on the banks of a contaminated river.  “For more than 20 years, we had to drink water from a well that the women from the community built at the edge of a river – a river where we washed clothes and bathed.”  In the summer, the well ran dry.  In search of a new water source, the community had to deal with contamination, both from animals and garbage in the river.  Milagro was concerned about the health of her family and community. This inspired her to take the initiative and seek out the assistance of El Porvenir – our partner NGO – in constructing a drilled well and water system.   Receiving the support of  Paccar, SFSW was able to commit to helping the hundreds of people of Tolinapa and the hundreds more in surrounding communities. As the project progresses we will keep you updated!


Hauling water

Long trip ahead



Thank you St. John’s for Ingathering Donation – June 2019! RSM, CA 

The students at St. John’s have done it again!  They have helped us to help others through their generosity during chapel ingathering.  This time, they presented a check to Students For Safe Water for $830.13. Every person we have been able to help to date owes the administration and past and current students a huge thank you for their continued support.  Students For Safe Water started over 9 years ago because of the willingness of administrators and teachers to believe in student efforts. With this last donation,  we are nearing the amount needed to break ground on our biggest project -school construction in Madagascar, complete with water and sanitation.  Thank you seems so inadequate –but THANK YOU!

Another Successful Chipotle Dining Event  – Food for Change!
SMCHS’ SFSW Club, led by Grace and Jack Dennis, hosted a third dine in/out event in May 2019.  It was the second held at the RSM Chipotle. The food and generosity of Chipotle (they share 50% of the proceeds!) brought us back.  The simple act of  having a meal out helped to bring clean water to people in need. Thank you to all the students and friends of SFSW that came out to support our work.  Every little bit counts and helps make a difference in the lives of those living without!

2nd Chipotle Event!


Dine in or out!

Food for Change


SM SFSW Club Adds 98 Members – Going Strong! September 2018

Santa Margarita HS Club sign up nearly 100 new members. Thank  you to Grace and Jack Dennis for manning the table. More students means more support!

SM Club Rush

New members

Keep 'em signing

Sign up sheets!


Larger Community-Wide Nyarugunga Clean Water Project Completed, June 2018

Following the BFR-SFSW collaboration to bring 100 BFR families clean water, we received a request for a larger community-wide project. With funds received from SFSW, Students at St. John’s Episcopal in RSM and a matching donation from Somang foundation obtained by Youth Advisory Board Member, Maddy Limb, approximately 1,000 families located in the village now have access to water. The village is composed of vulnerable families, such as veterans with physical and mental disabilities and genocide survivors. Before this project was implemented, the villagers had to pay 150 RWFs for one jerrycan of water. This is a high price for vulnerable people with limited resources. For those who could not pay, the women and children were tasked with fetching unclean water far distances away. Many suffered stomach and skin issues because they were forced to drink and bathe in contaminated water. The community water project has changed life for thousands of men, women and children. One jerrycan of water now only costs 20 RWF, a price they can afford (130 RWF less than they previously paid after walking long distances). Its location in the community enables kids to attend school regularly as they now do not waste hours fetching water. The community is so grateful and wrote “Thank you (to the team) for this greater work of clean water. May Almighty God bless you.” We also thank all our supporters, every student, who thinks of others they may never meet. You are changing lives with every donation, however small. We have been asked to consider funding an additional community project in Gikondo. We hope you will continue to support our efforts. We cannot do anything without students like you!

Ribbon cutting

Access to water

Some of the community

It's here!


Chipotle Dine Event  – Food for Change!
SMCHS’ SFSW Club, led by Grace and Jack Dennis, hosted a second dine in/out event on April 22, 2018 at the Chipotle in RSM. Chipotle generously shared 50% of the proceeds to SFSW. Dinner became an opportunity for a selfless act that truly helps others live healthier. Thanks to all that ate for a cause and  made a difference in people’s lives!

Thank you Chipotle!



Food for a cause


Educating Local Students – October 2017
Youth Advisory Board Members – Grace and Jack Dennis and Maddy Limb welcomed local Elementary and Middle School Students to a youth assembly in Rancho Santa Margarita to educate young people on the global water crisis and how they have the power to contribute to change. Students were shown a short film giving an honest and eye-opening look at the daily life of people without access to clean water before opening up to a question and answer session. It was a wonderful morning of student led discussion were participants were left with tangible ways to get involved and make a difference.

Intro: Maddy Limb

Grace Dennis

Jack Dennis





Students For Safe Water Rwanda Update

It is amazing how the gift of water can change families lives. BFR reached out to let us know about one family who not only gained access to clean water through your efforts, but created a small business as well. Nyiraneza is the mother of 8 children of her own and cares for DieuMerci who was abandoned at her doorstep. She was a member of one of the 100 BFR families that had a water tap installed at her home. Recognizing that many of her neighbors don’t have access to their own water, she started a small business to sell water (affordably). With some capital gifted by BFR, Nyiraneza was able to buy many jerrycans and now helps her neighbors and her self – she is no longer struggling for food or for clothes and school supplies for her children. She thanks God for his faithfulness and for the simple gift of clean water which has changed her life.


St. John’s School Recycling Program Going Strong

Founded by Students for Safe Water Youth Advisory Board members Grace and Jack Dennis in 2012, the St. John’s Episcopal Church and School’s campus-wide aluminum and plastic recycling program is now in its 6th year and going strong. St. John’s students, faculty and staff utilize Students for Safe Water designated bins to dispose of their plastic and aluminum materials year round. On a weekly basis, Grace and Jack Dennis empty, sort and transport the materials to local rePlanet and community redemption centers and then return 100% of the funds to Students for Safe Water. Over $3500.00 has been raised to date to help fund clean water wells, hygiene stations and other SFSW initiatives. Additionally, upwards of 2000 pounds of plastic and aluminum waste has been kept out of our landfills and oceans. This program that seeks to raise awareness and much needed funds for the global water crisis while helping to protect our environment is one that both Grace and Jack Dennis plan to operate through their high school careers while training student volunteers to pass the effort on to the next generation of supporters.

Some of the weekly haul

Recycle for safe water

Grace & Jack Dennis

Thank you St. John's


Students For Safe Water Recognizes Local Heroes

Coto de Caza residents Sydney and Derek Smith have long been supporters of Students for Safe Water. Having participated in a past Walk-for-Water 5K, a student Change-for-Change drive and ongoing recycling efforts in their home, it came as no surprise when Sydney Smith used her Sweet 16 birthday bash to raise awareness and encourage donations for SFSW. Not many teenagers would think to forego birthday presents in favor of monetary donations to a favored nonprofit, but Sydney is no ordinary teenager! Her friends and family responded to her selflessness with contributions of over $500.00 towards the goals of our organization. Sydney’s and the Smith family’s continued support is much appreciated and demonstrates how everyone has the capacity to do amazing and impactful things.


Rubios And SM SFSW Club Partner for Evening of Food and Funds!
Lead by club founder and President Grace Dennis, Santa Margarita High School’s Students for Safe Water Club hosted their inaugural fundraiser at the Rancho Santa Margarita Rubio’s Coastal Grill on February 3, 2017.  Students, friends and family rallied around this community effort to dine on Rubio’s fresh California/Mexican fare where 20% of all pre-tax sales were donated directly to Students for Safe Water. Rubio’s Coastal Grill was selected as the host restaurant because of their commitment to  sustainable seafood and farming and long-term ocean health when designing their menus. The opportunity to drive awareness and the success of this event has SMCHS Students for Safe Water Club excited to plan a similar event for the 2017/2018 school year.

Dine Event



Food for a cause


100 BFR Families Receive Water, December 2016
Construction was completed in record time!  BFR planned, budgeted and built the SFSW funded project – allowing 100 BFR families to access clean water before Christmas! While this project is rudimentary, it is a blessing that will positively impact the lives and health of the recipients.  Best Family Rwanda, the NGO we are working with in Africa, wrote “Thank you Students For Safe Water for letting this happen. Thank you for helping these poor families to get clean water. May God bless you!”  A big thank you to all the students, teachers and community members that support our efforts. We will begin the third and final phase of our Rwanda project in the new year. Below are a few of the faces you have helped. More will be posted soon!

Healthier kids 
 Better school attendance
Easy access water 
Safe water!


New Campus Clubs – Students For Safe Water Continues to Grow!
This year, two more schools gained SFSW Clubs.  Julia Hill started a club at San Clemente High School and Grace Dennis founded a SFSW club at Santa Margarita Catholic High School!  We can’t wait to join with them and their club volunteers to change lives!  We know they will help to make the world a better place for those living without clean water and basic sanitation.  Thank you for taking the initiative and stepping into leadership roles.  We look forward to seeing all you will accomplish!

Julia at Club Rush!


Update on BFR  Water Project, 2016
Construction is underway and some families have already received access to clean water! While the project may seem basic, it is life changing to the people who live in Kinyinya.  Not only will the women and children save 4 hours a day (they make two trips per day for water), but the kids will get to school on time, enjoy improved health, and have more money (one family of five pays 25,000 Rwf for 5 jerry cans of water per day, but will now pay only 2,000 RWF for 10 jerry cans that can be consumed from a faucet outside their homes).   The woman in the second photo was returning from a two-hour journey to fetch water, carrying 20 pounds of water on her head and 20 pounds in her hand.  She arrived home to find the Students For Safe Water system being constructed at her home.  Her first reaction – to stop and praise the Lord!  Additional water systems are being installed and two more villages – Gikondo and Nyarugunga – will be funded by SFSW, bringing easily attainable water to families that need it.  Best Family Rwanda, the NGO in Africa, wrote “This project has been a long time coming and we’re so grateful to Students For Safe Water whom allowed it to happen! Praise the Lord!”  To everyone who supports our outreach, thank you. UPDATE: The Kinyinya project is complete and construction has started on Nyarugunga!

Constructing water system
Woman before
After the water came
Safe water!


Rwanda Water Project, 2016
This year, we funded a very special water project and are in the process of planning a second project and work trip in the summer of 2017. We learned of a village, Gasharu, in the Kinyinya sector in Rwanda, after our friends, Maddie Limb and her mom, Dr. Limb, returned from a medical mission in conjunction with Best Family Rwanda (BFR). Gasharu is one of the villages the Rwandan government formed for widowed and orphaned genocide survivors. BFR has focused its efforts in these communities. As background, in 1994, Rwanda suffered one of history’s greatest genocides. In 100 days, approximately one million people were slaughtered and 300,000 children orphaned and traumatized having witnessed such horror. It was a dark time in the country’s history, but in the darkness, the people found hope. The founders of BFR are orphan survivors of this genocide. They believe God brought them together through shared hardships and called them to families in need. Through their struggles, they learned the benefit and blessing of helping one another to succeed. In 2001, they started by helping three young men in need. Today, BFR provides wholistic care to the children and families in their programs. They assist the villages families, many of which are headed by single moms and grandmothers with HIV.  When we heard about the conditions, we approached BFR about funding a water project. One of the co-founders expressed a desire to bring clean water, as many families were having to walk long distances, drinking contaminated water, and suffering from illnesses and dehydration. Through God’s blessings and your support, we were able to answer their call for help. This project, currently under construction, will be completed by the end of 2016 and bless the lives of 25 families and the lives of those in the neighboring communities!

Existing water supply
BFR Co-founder
Maddie and Dr. Limb
Kids to help


Rio Olympics Bring Attention to the World Water Crisis
The 2016 Rio Olympics brought world-wide attention to the world water crisis, but what will happen when the Games conclude? One of SFSW Health and Hygiene Directors, Jake Hira, posed this very question. Please read his awareness raising article under the “Get Involved” tab.

Flint Water Crisis, Michigan
Students for Safe Water encourages all students who care about the world water crisis to raise awareness about the issue facing the citizens in Flint, Michigan. In 2015, the city of Flint received national attention due to contamination in their tap water. The result has been extensive damage to the health of more than 100,000 people. They face a long road ahead in terms of gaining access to clean water and the health effects that result from lead poisoning. Grace and Jack Dennis, Youth Advisory Board members for SFSW, are asking that all concerned students join them in advocating for the residents of Flint and others living in communities with similar issues. Just because the cameras leave, doesn’t mean the problem is solved. They are encouraging like-minded students to write letters to their local officials to support bills that will provide funding to clean up contaminated water supplies in America, and specifically to help the residents in their recovery. Your letter can be brief, but be passionate and make it personal. You can find government contact information at: You can make a difference.

Speaking to Students, 2016
Youth Advisory Board Members – Bella Zintel, Grace and Jack Dennis, reported to SJES about the impact of their continued support in chapel donations and recycling.  They did a great job raising awareness and inspiring the students to do what they can to help others – in big and small ways!

More to do
Jack, Bella, Grace


Service Trip – Summer 2015, Nicaragua
This summer SFSW again traveled to Nicaragua to help fund and build a school hand wash station and latrine project. We also expanded our outreach to include reforestation by donating $1000 towards the planting of saplings that will help improve the watershed and protect the planet. With the help of students like you, we made a positive impact in the lives of others. THANK YOU!

Ready to serve
Building the project
Help from friends
Making a difference!


Literacy with Solar Lanterns  – We have expanded outreach!
When our volunteers see a problem, they do something!  Last summer, Morgan and Ryan Jenkins met kids living without electricity.  Imagine trying to read or complete homework, or avoid danger at night – especially when you have to use an outdoor latrine – and it is pitch black!  Wondering how they could help, they came upon the idea of solar lanterns.  They raised money, solicited businesses, and brought 150 solar lanterns to Nicaraguan villagers!  One community walked nearly 8 miles simply to get these lanterns.  Morgan and Ryan also co-wrote a children’s book about literacy and lanterns to help raise funds and they distributed the books to the kids in Nicaragua as a gift.  The kids loved them.  Bella Zintel also wrote a book in English and Spanish to help support efforts to teach English to the students SFSW has provided lessons!  Everyone  can do something and use their God-given talents to make someone’s life a little better!

Thrilled to get new books!
Books and lanterns
Excited about solar
Learning English!


Students For Safe Water Presents at 2015 Children’s Water Education Festival 

On March 25-26, Students For Safe Water presented at the 19th annual Children’s Water Education Festival, the largest of its kind in the United States.  Hosted by UCI, the event was made possible by the Orange County Water District, Disneyland Resort, National Water Research Institute, and the Orange County Water District Groundwater Guardian Team.  The Festival presented a unique opportunity to educate third, fourth and fifth grade students about the water crisis and help them to understand how they can protect water supplies and help others.  This was our second year of participation and we were honored to address the 6,961 elementary students that attended from 76 schools and 21 cities in Orange County. Volunteers Jake Hira, Grace Dennis, Jack Dennis, Morgan Jenkins, Ryan Jenkins and Bella Zintel were invaluable in educating these students about the world water crisis.  Speaking to the students and presenting their platform provided an opportunity to not only educate students about conservation and the impact of the crisis around the world, but an opportunity to inspire more kids to help others in need.  To our amazing volunteers: thank you for your hard work and participation in this incredible event!  We couldn’t have done it without you.

Ryan, Grace, Morgan, Jack
With Bella
           Jake Hira


Holiday Card Sales and Gift Wrap For Donations a Huge Success
This holiday season Students For Safe Water volunteers sold recognition holiday cards – enabling people to give the gift of water. We also wrapped gifts for donations. We are incredibly thankful to all those that supported our efforts. Thank you!

Partial front of card
Back – Thanks Crown Hearts Photography!
Anything to help!


Students For Safe Water – in Conjunction with St. John’s Episcopal School – Helps Educate Ugandan Teachers on Hygiene
St. John’s recent donations from students received during chapel, a philanthro-party donation from a generous St. John’s student, and funds collected from the school recycling program, headed up by Grace and Jack Dennis, allowed us to expand our outreach to Africa. Jake Hira has taken a leadership role in health and hygiene via Project Wet. This has enabled us to fund the hygiene education of 30 teachers. We can only imagine how many people these teachers will educate and the number of lives that will be improved through better health. The key is empathy. St. John’s students put themselves into the shoes of others and in so doing they have made the world a little bit better. Thank you!

Students For Safe Water Wins Gloria Barron Prize
The Gloria Barron prize celebrates our service work. It was an incredible honor to have been selected and to have received the $5,000 prize as it will support our work and bring more services to those in the developing world. The prize was founded by author T.A. Barron in 2000 in honor of his mother, Gloria, a quiet hero who believed in the power of every person to make the world a better place. I couldn’t agree more. We are so thankful for the prize as it will help us to help others!

UN World Water Day 2014, SFSW Speaks at Leadership Conference, CA
I was invited to speak at a Youth Leadership Collective roundtable discussion to engage other high school students in conversations surrounding youth leadership and community engagement. I thought this was a great way to honor the day as it would not only bring awareness to the world water crisis, but encourage students to find their passion and to hopefully be inspired to develop their own leadership potential and do something about an issue they care about. I encourage any students interested in youth leadership, the water crisis, or community involvement, to join us for Foundations Student Speaker Seminar at the Santa Ana Zoo Amphitheatre on March 22 from 1-4. If you would like to buy a ticket in advance, send me an email and I will take care of it. Hope to see you there! ** Thank you to JSerra Students Rhys, Yuta, Baxter and Ren and Tesoro Student Jake Hira for helping with the presentation and working at the table.

SFSW volunteers
raising awareness
           Thank you YLC


SFSW Speaks at Nation’s Largest Youth Water Education Festival at UCI
I was invited to speak at the 18th Annual Children’s Water Education Festival on March 26-27, 2014. It is the largest youth water education festival in the nation and it was an incredible opportunity to educate students about the world water crisis and what they can do to help.  Held at UCI, I presented the issue to 7,000 3rd-5th grade elementary students over the course of two days with help from volunteers Max Runkhe and Rhys Spierekel. I am very excited to report that Students For Safe Water was asked back to speak again in 2015.  I look forward to reaching more students with the help of my sisters, Morgan and Ryan and Grace and Jack Dennis who will participate at the event this year.   What an amazing opportunity to educate young students about the issue and raise awareness about this global crisis!

Preparing to Speak
The event
raising awareness
          So proud to be included 


Clean the World Foundation Approves SFSW Request for Hygiene Amenities for Future Project
Having learned about the work Clean the World Foundation is doing, I thought they might be a perfect partner to help me help others. The organization collects soap and shampoo products discarded by hotels every day and recycles and repackages them into quality sanitary products to be distributed to those in need. We were granted 500 bars of soap. This will improved the health and hygiene of those in need and we are grateful for the assistance.

Help Raise Awareness – Safe Water Prize Video Competition 
If you have an interest in or talent for making videos, consider using those skills for good and enter an international video competition that can help save lives. I was asked to help promote the contest – rules can be found at The goal of the initiative is to get students involved in changing the world through addressing the issue of safe drinking water and sanitation. The contest deadline is fast approaching, but you can help change the world and win $1,000. Please check it out!

Newport Beach Sunrise Rotary Club Presentation, CA
I was honored when Mr. Robbins invited me to speak to the Newport Beach Sunrise Rotary Club.  I gladly accepted and on November 26, 2013, I had the opportunity to discuss the world water crisis with my first all-adult audience. I have never met a more encouraging and supportive group of people. The Rotarians live by the motto, “Service Above Self” and it was evident. After my presentation, I learned about some of the work members have done and are currently doing in their local communities and in the world. It was truly inspiring. The outpouring of support has also been incredible, including assistance from Mr. Bender (who founded Doc in a Box — please check the work out at– and has offered support), Mr. Heileson (who offered further introductions to other Rotary Clubs), and Rev. Crist (who has offered to seek Episcopal support).  I hope these new relationships will help Students For Safe Water do even more good and that I will be able to present to even more Rotary Clubs in the future. Thank you Newport Beach Sunrise Rotary Club members!

 I am getting ready to present
Raising awareness 
Sunrise Club breakfast 
           Thank you Rotary


St. John’s Episcopal School Donates Student Ingathering Funds to Students for Safe Water
On September 11, 2013, I returned to St. John’s Episcopal School in Rancho Santa Margarita, along with Max and Paige Ruhnke (also alumni) and Grace and Jack Dennis (current students) to update the student body about the good we accomplished this summer with their help. We entitled out presentation “Being Somebody” and challenged the students to recognize they are each somebody with the potential to change their world. When I was a student at St. John’s the teachers and administrators always told me and my classmates that we could be the change we wanted to see in the world. I didn’t realize it at the time, but the message somehow made its way into my brain. We were honored to be welcomed back to speak to the students and present volunteerism awards to those students who went above and beyond to support our efforts. It was incredible to be able to show our gratitude. It was at this presentation that the St. John’s administration announced to the students that Students For Safe Water would be the recipient of ingathering funds donated by the students at the monthly service. It is an amazing honor to be the charity receiving these funds. We promised the students we would use the funds to make a difference in the lives of others. We hope some of the students will travel with us this summer as we return to fund and help construct projects in the developing world. THANK YOU St. John’s – teachers, administrators and families. I wish every student could have teachers and administrators like those at St. John’s.

Max & I presenting at St. John’s
Jack reminding kids to recycle 
Grace – a safe water advocate
           Paige asks kids to help


Alex And Ani – Charity By Design The incredible jewelry company, Alex and Ani, has an inspiring philosophy and has been generous in its support of Students For Safe Water. This September, the company ordered 300 of our volunteer-authored books. Alex And Ani gave the books away at a charity event benefitting children with heart disease through the American Heart Association. Not only did they donate our books, but 100% of the proceeds from the book sales will go back to building SFSW-funded water and sanitation systems in the developing world. We are so honored that our books were provided to these kids and that we were supported by such an amazing company. If you aren’t familiar with these jewelry designs, check them out. Charity by Design allows organizations to create a unique design that reflects the message of each charity. I encourage you to checkout the Living Water Charm Bangle as it benefits an incredible water charity that SFSW also supports. Check them out at: or see an informational video here on our website. Thank you Alex And Ani!

The Montage: Doing Great Things to Help Those in Need – Laguna Beach, CA The Montage Hotel is not only one of the most beautiful hotels in the world, but its management cares about helping others and making the world a better place. I recently met the general manager, Todd Orlich, and he told me about the work the Montage staff does on site to recycle soap, shampoo and lotions to send to those in need in communities similar to the ones SFSW has served. They are big into sustainability and compost and repurpose their used hygiene items. They work with Clean the World to accomplish their goals. When Mr. Orlich learned about my work building water and handwash stations, he offered me a two night stay and dinner in the Loft restaurant as an award. I wondered if I could use this incredibly generous gift to help raise funds for charity. He instantly agreed. I hope to auction this gift off to help raise funds to help others very soon. If you ever get the chance to visit this hotel, you will be very impressed. Not just by the beauty, but the great people and acts of community service they perform daily. Please support them as they have supported SFSW and many other worthy causes: Thank you Montage!

Students for Safe Water – 2013 trip to Petaquilla, Nicaragua for Water System Inauguration
In July 2013, I returned to Petaquilla with SFSW volunteers Max Ruhnke and my sisters, Morgan and Ryan, for the inauguration of the electric pump water system that SFSW funded.  When I built latrines last summer, the villagers told me that their dream was potable water.  I promised to get the money and return the following summer without fully understanding what I was promising to do.  I came to find out that the project would cost $47,000, as it required bringing electricity to the village, building a water tank, laying an enormous amount of pipe, and engineering a system that used electricity and gravity to bring safe water to 78 homes!  Believe it or not, with your help we accomplished the goal.  At the ceremony, I learned that the villagers had been praying for a potable water system for 20 years.  They could not believe that SFSW had made their dream a reality in one year and that we had returned to Petaquilla as we had promised.  It was so gratifying to be a part of this occasion.  I wish all the students that have helped us could have been there. I even cut the ribbon at the inauguration and turned on the pump that brought safe water to the taps we built outside the homes.  It was amazing and I couldn’t have done it without your help.  Thank you to everyone for your generous support!

Cutting the ribbon 
Water is on!
Recipient of safe water tap
           One of 78 Taps 


Students for Safe Water Constructs Hand Wash Station and 4-Double Pit Latrines in Achuapa
In August 2013, I travelled to Achuapa with Max, Morgan and Ryan to construct a hand wash station and latrines at Los Hornos School. Our project helped restore dignity, as the children now have a clean, private place to relieve themselves at school and a hand wash station to wash their hands. This will help improve the health of the students. We also brought antibacterial soap that we gave to each child.  We provided the teachers extra supplies for their classrooms. It was gratifying to be able to complete funding and construct this project.  We are making a difference!

SFSW Volunteers!
First row of the latrines!
Mixing mortar
Wash station almost done


Students for Safe Water – Kids Publishing For Good, San Juan Capistrano, CA
In 2012, SFSW volunteer Lexi Zintel brought  hand-washing books to distribute in Petaquilla. When I saw how much the kids loved the books, and the good that was accomplished, it inspired me to start Kids Publishing For Good. As a result, I wrote a book about toothbrushing, having  noticed that village kids don’t receive proper dental care. I also asked my sisters and cousin, Grace, to do the same. When we returned to Central America this summer, we brought the books that we wrote, translated into Spanish. The kids loved them! We hope to sell them as well, donating 100% of the proceeds to building additional water and sanitation projects. A huge thank you to Bao at Le’s Printing for providing the printing at an affordable rate and with a quick turn-around time!

Handing out my books!
Ryan & a happy reader!
Morgan with her book in English
Los Hornos Students


Futbol 4 Dreams Donates Soccer Balls & Equipment – for Nicaraguan Villagers
In 2006, Futbol 4 Dreams was started by then 15-year-old Nicolette Iribarne to share her passion for soccer with others. The balls are hand decorated so the recipients know how special they are. Since its inception, with the help of her sister, Gabriela, her parents, and hundreds of student volunteers, the organization has delivered over 3000 balls to kids in the developing world. We were so grateful to receive 40 balls, pumps, jerseys and shoes to take to Nicaragua. It was amazing to see the children smile when they received these gifts. If you attend Laguna Hills or Tesoro High School, see what you can do to help with this incredible club!  Thank you Futbol 4 Dreams for allowing us to be a part of your outreach!

Ready for delivery 
Futbol 4 Dreams founder
Future futbol star?


Max Ruhnke Creates Soccer Manual For Students in Los Hornos
When Max learned that we were delivering soccer balls donated by Futbol 4 Dreams, he volunteered to create a soccer manual to teach the kids how to play. The kids loved the fun, illustrated manual and Max loved playing with the kids during breaks from constructing the wash station and latrines. His soccer games and how-to books were a success and it enabled him to make an even greater connection with the village kids.  Thank you for your contribution Max!

The how-to manuals 
Creating his books
Some happy recipients
           Los Hornos students


Paige Ruhnke Unites Students from Different Countries with Bows
Unable to travel to Nicaragua this summer, Paige still wanted to do “something.”  While Max made soccer manuals about a boy named Kervin, Paige decided to do something special for the girls.  A club soccer player for many years, she thought about the bows girl soccer players wear in the hair to unite the team.  She made a hundred bows and tags that explained the meaning of her gift and her desire that it unify the students from the two countries.  It was a beautiful gesture that was well received!  Paige also helped us pack the bows, toys, soccer gear and hygiene items for the trip.  She is looking forward to working on a project next year. Thank you for all your help Paige!

The bows 
Creating the gifts
Dedicated volunteers
           El Sauce delivery


Zach Peterson Collects New Jerseys For Villagers
When Zach learned that SFSW had received a donation of soccer balls and planned to bring them on our trip, he thought of a friend who had over 60 new jerseys that were not being used. He explained the need, his desire to send the kids something he knew they would love, and asked if he would be willing to help. He secured the donation, packed the jerseys, and made a lot of people happy! A huge thank you to Zach as most of the people who received the jerseys never get new items. They were so thrilled to get something no one else had ever worn before that they even left the tags on while wearing them.

Zach checking out the new stuff
Loading up the car
Happy recipient of a jersey
           Thank you!


Monir Fahri Creates Duct Tape Creations for SFSW, South San Francisco, CA
In 2013, Monir Fahri, a 6th grade student at Westborough Middle School, decided to unite her passion for duct tape creations with her desire to help others. She joined with Students for Safe Water to create custom wallets, coin purses and pens made from duct tape and donates a portion of her sales to the charity to help save lives. She recently donated her first $20 – this will help give a child safe water for life! She also wanted to thank Amanda at the Duct Tape Factory who donated tape for her work. Please help support Monir’s efforts by visiting her Etsy Account at MONIRScrafts. This is a great example of using your interest and talents to help others! Way to go Monir. Thank you for your support!

At Duct Factory in Ohio!
Our SFSW duct taper!
Holding some creations
Buy on Etsy


Hasbro Donates Toys For Villagers
I was honored to be named a Hasbro Community Action Hero 2013.  As a result, I travelled to New York to attend the annual volunteer event in conjunction with generationOn. While there, I met exceptional and generous people. After I mentioned how much the village kids would love Hasbro toys, the “head honchos” at Hasbro wasted no time answering the call. Shortly after I returned home, an enormous amount of toys arrived on my doorstep. I’m talking pallets and a forklift! It was an incredible surprise and the children so appreciated the gifts! As I entered these impoverished villages and communities, I felt like Santa, handing out toys like Mr. Potato Head and Nerf footballs. It was so much fun and the kids’ smiles showed how much it brightened their day. A huge thank you to Hasbro for helping me to help others!

With Chelsea Clinton & fellow recipients
Mrs. & Brian Goldner, Hasbro CEO
Excited kids!
Thank you Hasbro!


Hayden Lamphere Uses Her Talent to Provide Wash Cloths For Villagers on SFSW Projects
Hayden realized that you don’t have to do something big to make a difference, you just have to do something. She used her ability to knit to improve the lives of others.  She bought absorbent “yarn” and created wash cloths and dish cloths for SFSW to bring to the villagers on our projects. This will enable the families to bathe and wash their hands, dishes and other areas with hard to come by cloths. Living on about $1.00 a day, this is a luxury that most cannot afford. Her contribution will make life not only easier, but healthier for these families! She is now teaching others how to knit as well.  She has shown that you don’t have to do something huge to make a tremendous difference. Thank you Hayden and her army of knitters!

SFSW Volunteer, Hayden!

Teaching others!

Two more volunteers
Making a difference!


Students for Safe Water – Kids Run the OC, Costa Mesa, CA
On May 4, 2013, Students for Safe Water participated in the “Kids Run the OC” in Costa Mesa. We had a booth on site to help raise awareness about the world water crisis, including a face painter and volunteers and runners determined to raise funds for the nearly one billion people in the world who walk great distances to find water.  A huge thank you goes out to all our volunteers, especially the St. John’s student runners (Carter Aase, Grace and Jack Dennis, Aubrey Davenport, Isabella and Alexander Elia, Mai Griffith, Devin Hinson, Alex Lansing, Sydney Smith, and Sydni and Natalie Wolder) who manned the booth for much of the day, my fellow JSerra classmates and SMCHS friends that got up early to help with the set-up, and our student volunteers from Los Angeles for getting up before 5 am to make it in time for the first heat! Without your help and participation, it would not have been successful.  Not only did we raise money to help complete our water project, but we signed up 227 new interested volunteers.  THANK YOU! You guys are amazing!

Advertising the run!
Some of our runners!
St. John’s volunteers at work – manning the SFSW booth
Encouraging future SFSW volunteer?


SFSW Receives Disney Friends For Change Grant 
I applied for a Disney Friends For Change Grant and we were honored to receive funding ($1,000) to help with our walk for water! As a result, some of our costs were underwritten and we were able to help out kids with the Boys and Girls Club in Buena Park.  Not only were we able to speak to them about the world water crisis and ask for their support at the walk, but we were able to use a portion of the money (along with a portion of a Hasbro grant) to supply them with club shirts that they would not otherwise have had to unify their group .  Approximately 40 Boys and Girls Clubs participants will be wearing our shirts and helping to raise awareness.  Here are some photos that we took during Global Youth Service Day (week) when we spoke at the club and handed out t-shirts.  Thank you Disney for helping us to reach even more kids!

Raising awareness

Thank you Disney!

Our cause!

 Run T-shirts


SFSW Youth Advisory Board Members, Grace and Jack Dennis – Recycling For a Cause
Since SFSW started the recycling program at St. John’s Episcopal School, Grace and Jack have collected, sorted, weighed and EARNED over $3,000 from plastic and aluminum.   St. John’s students’ commitment to recycling and  Grace and Jack’s dedication to raising funds to help others is incredible!   But their support isn’t limited to recycling, you will also find then at the Kids Run the OC on May 4, walking for SFSW.  In fact, they have rallied the support of 15 of their friends and classmates who will also walk for water.  A HUGE thank you to Grace and Jack for inspiring others to action!

SFSW volunteers, Grace and Jack, sorting bins.
Hard work!
Thank you!!
Making a difference.


UN World Water Day, March 22
Students for Safe Water  encourages all students who care about the world water crisis to do something on March 22 to raise awareness for this issue.  March 22 is the United Nations World Water Day and people all over the world will show their concern about this world health concern. Have a dine out event, host a bake sale, grab some friends and walk with banners or simply make and post flyers.  Let’s get the word out about the 783 million people living without access to clean, safe water!  You can make a difference!

PepsiCo Awards Nearly $20,000 in Matching Gift to Students For Safe Water  
Unbelievable News!  Students For Safe Water received a $19,850 match from PepsiCo!  While Lexi and I were in Nicaragua working on a sanitation project, we couldn’t help but notice Pepsi’s presence.  From curbside stands to empty containers used by the locals to haul water, Pepsi was everywhere.  As we walked down dusty streets in tired villages, Lexi and I discussed how we might seek PepsiCo’s help with future water projects.  We brainstormed ideas about how we might partner with Pepsi to impact lives.  Maybe they could sponsor our events? Match our efforts? The possibilities seemed endless. We were optimistic, perhaps because the need is so great.  Fortunately for us, PepsiCo is a longtime supporter of organizations seeking to improve the world water crisis. “In 2008, the PepsiCo Foundation contributed $4.1 million to resulting, to date, in more than 250,000 people accessing improved water and/or sanitation through initiatives funded by microfinance loans.  Additionally, in 2011, the philanthropic arm of PepsiCo and expanded their partnership to scale WaterCredit, a market-driven model that will provide micro loans to families throughout India. It is estimated that this expansion will help provide approximately 800,000 people access to safe water by March 2016.”  Feeling empowered by their philanthropic history, we got to work.  As soon as we had “connection” at the airport, we jumped on the computer and found out about Pepsi’s amazing matching program. Lexi’s mom is a longtime PepsiCo employee so she grilled her about how to get something done. We are overjoyed by the incredible gift Students For Safe Water recently received!  Lexi and I have become agents for change.  Educating others about the basic needs of those less fortunate has empowered us.  As Nelson Mandela said: “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”  We know this is true now, for we have lived it.

Lexi and I encourage everyone to support PepsiCo, an incredible organization that has supported us and that gives back to the world community!  THANK YOU PepsiCo!!!!

$19,850 PepsiCo check!
At a Pepsi Stand in Nicaragua.
Pespi and water.
Thank you PepsiCo.


Students For Safe Water Provides English Lessons to El Sauce Children
  While building our sanitation project in Nicaragua, I met impoverished children in the village of El Sauce who would visit nightly, after we returned from the worksite.  We would play soccer together, sing and dance, and they would perform shows they had choreographed.  We made a connection. And,  when they said they wanted to learn English to open the doors of opportunity, I knew I had to figure something out.   SFSW reached out to a local interpreter who agreed to teach a Saturday class to a dozen students.  When I got home, I collected English CDs and players, bought workbooks and sent them to “my” students.  They have been taking English classes for a few now and are learning English.  I get updates and videos of their progress and I hope to Skype regularly so that they can practice their English. I wanted to share what SFSW is doing and how we are touching kids beyond our water and sanitation initiatives.

* Update: We correspond through Skype and email to provide encouragement and practice.  We also visited the kids when we returned in August 2013.  They spent two days practicing their English skills and it was incredible to see how excited they still are to learn. All but one child is still attending the classes – and they never miss.  Three more children asked if they could take classes and the answer was ABSOLUTELY!

“My” El Sauce students
Let’s dance
Learning English
Studying hard!


JSerra Supports Students For Safe Water at Fat Tuesday Celebration 
Thank you to the JSerra administration and especially to SFSW club moderator, Erin Watson, for supporting our efforts.   Again this year, Jserra generously sponsored a booth for SFSW during the Fat Tuesday Celebration.  We manned a water booth – a good choice for a warm afternoon.  The proceeds earned from the sale totaled $196.  The funds will benefit clean water initiatives.  It was a great day. Thank you Jserra!

Let’s raise funds!!
Selling fast on warm day.
Another supporter.
Way to go Lions.


Students for Safe Water Sells Holiday Donation Cards CA
Students for Safe Water provided beautiful donation cards this holiday season to support water initiatives. After speaking to St. John’s students,  Headmaster  Jim Lusby inquired about donation cards, as he had decided to give the gift of water in the name of his loved ones at the holiday.  Not only was it incredibly supportive and generous of him to rally behind our organization, but it enabled SFSW to raise money using a new tool. The cards were beautifully designed by Crown Hearts Photography, and we raised nearly $1,000.  Thank you to Mr. Lusby for the idea and to Crown Hearts Photography for the donated design services!

Students for Safe Water Speaks at SJES, Rancho Santa Margarita, CA
I returned to SJES with Lexi to report on the well in Honduras SJES students helped to fund. We also kicked off our $20 Superhero campaign. Headmaster, Mr. Jim Lusby, even donated the first $20 to the cause!  We couldn’t do any of this without the continued support of Mr. Lusby, Mrs. Campbell and Mrs. Barnum. THANK YOU!

SFSW campaign logo!
Lexi and I at SJES
Mr. Lusby encourages student participation!
Who we are helping.


Students for Safe Water Awarded Grant from Hasbro Children’s Fund For GenerationOn Club Service Project
Students for Safe Water received a $300 grant sponsored by Hasbro Children’s Fund to support the upcoming Students For Safe Water generationOn Walk for Water. The selection process was “incredibly competitive, with a high volume of applications for the available grants.”  We are honored that generationOn and Hasbro Children’s Fund have supported our cause, noting Students For Safe Water’s “considerable dedication to service.”   We used a portion of  the funds to supply t-shirts to runners and volunteers so they could show their support. Working together, we CAN end the world water crisis!

Our supporters!
Who it helped!
In memory of Boston on shirts!
Thumbs up for Hasbro!


Students For Safe Water Funds Well in Honduras 
Students, working together, helped fund a well in Saba, Honduras.  The lives of the villagers have been improved because students from Jserra and St. John’s working on behalf of Students For Safe Water, raised funds to build a life-saving well.  The well cost $5,000 and will provide safe drinking water. Recycling, garage and bake sales, change drives and donations were all it took to be someone’s superhero! Please check out the photos below and think about what you might do to help with the next project. (Note: The plaque was inadvertently printed without recognizing St. John’s students. However, it was soon corrected and now stands as a testimony to how kids can help others.)

Preparing to build.
The finished product.
Donation plaque.
SFSW well put to use! 


Students For Safe Water at TEDx Redmond 
In an effort to raise awareness, I spoke at TEDx Redmond.  It was an incredible weekend with 1000 attendees and the media present. The speakers included a nuclear scientist, an inspiring photographer, musicians, entrepreneurs and humanitarians. We got the message out and even earned $500 in the process for “presenter who demonstrates outstanding leadership in a humanitarian cause for good.”  The award was provided by one of the conference sponsors, Dighu (Digital Humanity).  They are an amazing social media site that celebrates good acts.  Please check them out and be inspired!  What good thing have you done today?

Let’s raise awareness!
Speaking at Tedx Redmond.
Receiving the $500 award.
Dighu Award from Event Sponsor.


Lexi Zintel Writes & Illustrates Hygiene Book to be Distributed to Rural Poor in Nicaragua

Having learned that kids in rural villages often become extremely ill and even die because they haven’t learned basic hygiene, Lexi wanted to help teach kids about its importance in a funny way.  Thus, “Raina Regina Ramona Ramos Simply Refused to Lavarse Las Manos” was born.  The poem was a Shel Silverstein-like ditty that featured a very stubborn little girl who refused to wash her hands.  ”She thought she was a sparkling queen/With the cleanest hands anyone had ever seen/But the sad truth was she was so grimy/The worms in her hair were less slimy/When she smiled her teeth were black/She gave ten people a heart attack…”  The kids loved it.  Lexi even illustrated the book at home. She worried it wasn’t going to be any good; but, she couldn’t have been more wrong.  A day or so after arriving home from Nicaragua, we received a phone call.  El Porvenir, the charity on the ground in Nicaragua, wanted permission to copy Lexi’s book.  They wanted to distribute it to every child on every water and sanitation project.  They felt it was a lifesaving tool that the kids understood better than any boring set of rules or instructions. Thousands of Nicaraguan children living in poverty would read her words.  She had become a true advocate for safe water and hygiene.  If Lexi’s story inspires you, consider using your creativity and talents to change someone’s life.

Lexi reading to the students in a Nicaraguan classroom.
So excited to have their own book!
Reading…and learning!
One of two classes in the village. 


 Students For Safe Water Builds Sanitation Project in Petaquilla, Nicaragua
We came handing out lollipops, wanting them to know we were there to help.  They ran barefoot down the dirt road, playing with ripped up old tires, laughing and screaming. Here, the chickens strutted right into the houses, while the pigs wobbled around the tired old homes. We had no idea what we had gotten ourselves into, but we knew we wanted to help. Lexi and I had come to Nicaragua to help alleviate the water and sanitation problem in the rural village of Petaquilla. SFSW funded 22 double-pit latrines, providing villagers a humane and dignified place to use the bathroom.  This project will improve the lives and health of those living in the village.  If you would like to help fund our next project, please donate online (it is tax deductible).  If you are a student who would like to get involved, or join us on our next build, send us an email.  We hope you get involved and help change your world.

Lexi and I constructing a brick and mortar latrine.
In front of an El Porvenir well
Celebrating our last day with kids from the village.
An almost-finished latrine. 


Recycling Efforts – Students For Safe Water School Initiative
We are so fortunate that a drink of water is no further than a bottle in our fridge.  That is not the case for nearly 2/3 of the world’s population.  Wouldn’t it be great if we all did something as small as recycling to help make a difference?  Join Students For Safe Water in recycling plastic and glass bottles and aluminum cans and donating the money to help resolve the world’s water crisis. Follow in Grace and Jack’s footsteps and lead the charge in your own school. You will be surprised by the change  your efforts can make in the lives of those living without clean, safe water.  Be inspired!

SFSW collecting bottles and cans to raise money.
St John’s recycles and Grace & Jack manage SFSW bins.
Sorting the recycled bottles and cans collected at SJES.
Weighing recycled material so we can raise some money!


Students for Safe Water – Garage Sale, Rancho Santa Margarita, CA
It was a time to clean out garages and help clean up water! Kids in support of Students For Safe Water joined me in collecting items and working a garage sale to help raise funds for a well in Honduras. We sold everything from small knick knacks to large pieces of furniture. Most importantly, we spread the word. Some garage sale shoppers even donated to the cause. Consider helping your neighbors clean out their garages and host a garage sale of your own that will help save lives. A huge thank you to all the kids who helped work the sale, the families that donated items and the shoppers who helped to make it a success! THANK YOU!

SFSW supporters host a garage sale to help build wells!
We sold nearly all of our items and raised a lot of money!
We had a lot to sell!
Donuts and water were sold to benefit SFSW.


Students for Safe Water – Kids Run The OC, Costa Mesa, CA
Students for Safe Water will be participating in the “Kids Run the OC” Half Marathon on May 5, 2012. We will have a booth on site to help raise awareness about the world water crisis and will raise funds by offering SFSW t-shirts for donation to the runners. Some of our student participants will carry Jerry cans to remind the community of the nearly one billion people in the world who walk great distances to find water.   Women and children in the developing world walk everyday, sometimes taking up most of their day, to get water – water that is often contaminated and unsafe.  They must carry the cans, strap them on their backs or balance them on their heads.  A standard five-gallon Jerry can weighs about 40 pounds when it is full.  The time spent collecting water is time away from school and work.  This contributes to the cycle of poverty these families are in.  We are really excited to teach other students about this crisis and to ask for their support in finding solutions. If you are interested in participating and walking alongside SFSW volunteers, shoot me an email, or come by our booth at the event. We will give you a T-shirt to walk beside us and show your support. Hope to see you there!

United Nations World Water Day 2012, Students for Safe Water – Panda Express Fundraiser, Ladera Ranch, CA
The UN World Water Day is a time to be grateful for the safe water we drink and to help people who are living without. Almost 1/8 of the world’s population lives without access to clean water, but if we all do something small, we can make big changes. I asked my local Panda Express restaurant if we could have a fundraiser on World Water Day to raise money and awareness about the water crisis. They were happy to help and today the restaurant will donate 20% of the purchases to SFSW. All that is required is people bring in a flyer. Students from four local schools, JSerra (my high school), SMCHS, CVCS and SJES, are all offering their support. Some passed out flyers and others supported by dining out at Panda. A huge thank you to all the students who helped pass out flyers, the families that dined out and the administrators at the various schools for their support! I’m sure we ate our way to a nice donation! THANK YOU!

SJES students supporting UN World Water Day. March 22, 2012!  
I I’m passing out flyers at JSerra. Trying to raise aw