Apr 6, 2015

A Letter from our Events Coordinator

Wine To Water grew organically as an organization through the support of our Events Program. The very first Wine To Water event was hosted in Raleigh, NC by then bartender, Doc Hendley. Wine To Water was founded after an overwhelming response and many great events to follow. Since then, individual, businesses, churches, and corporations have hosted numerous events all over the world.

As the Events Coordinator, I want to invite you to join in the movement of providing clean water to those in need. Hosting an event is an easy, fun, and interactive way to get involved. Our event process is simple, so we encourage you to be creative and take ownership of the event.

Relationships and community are essential to everything we do. The events program is a unique way to connect and engage with likeminded people in your area.

As you take a deeper look in to our events program in the pages to come, please consider how you can get involved and ultimately be the change that makes this world a better place.


 -Whitney Hendley


If you would like to learn more about Wine To Water Events, click here


Mar 23, 2015

A Letter from our Volunteer Coordinator

Let’s face it; the global water crisis is something that Westerners have a hard time fully comprehending.  We do not have to travel miles down a dirt path to pour ourselves a glass of water nor do we have to go to the community well and pump out a bucket of clean water by hand for our family each day. We have clean drinking water served out of the tap, at no cost, in every restaurant and we have the option to take long hot showers everyday. It’s a resource that we take for granted.

This is why the Volunteer Program at Wine To Water was established.  Just over a year ago, in January 2014, we launched the volunteer program to deepen our understanding of what our planet if facing with the precious resource, water. We wanted to invite our supporters to come and see first-hand how the water crisis is affecting the 2.5 billion people worldwide.

Statistics go in one ear and out the other, but experiences can last a lifetime.  I can tell you that every 21 seconds a child dies from a water-borne illness, yet after 42 seconds, you haven’t really grasped that two children are no longer breathing. But when you see some of these statistics with your own eyes, it is inevitable that you will want to do something about it.

As the Volunteer Coordinator for Wine To Water, I want to personally invite you to join us in the field. We are currently offering service-trips to five countries around the globe throughout the year. You can come as an individual or as an organized group. As our founder Doc Hendley says, “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.”  Together, we can fill buckets!  Come join us!

Lisa Merritt


Feb 9, 2015

A Letter from our Chapter Coordinator

Dear WTW supporters,

I’ve had the pleasure of working with Wine To Water for 3 years. I will forever be thankful for this opportunity. I first began volunteering with Wine To Water in 2009 as a student at Appalachian State. I was inspired by the amazing work that Wine To Water was doing all over the world.

In 2010, while in school, my friends and I decided to start a student service club at Appalachian State. Our goal was to unite in support of Wine To Water by providing volunteer service and fundraising. The club eventually became the very first Wine To Water chapter.

Today, we have 7 student chapters and 2 city chapters that are completely run by dedicated volunteers. As we move into the New Year, I want to continue growing this community by connecting Wine To Water supporters to the chapter program. One day, I hope to have Wine To Water chapters all over the world. 

Community is at the heart of everything that we do at Wine To Water. The Wine To Water Chapter Program gives supporters the opportunity to take the next step in service and form a community of people who are passionate about the mission of Wine To Water in their area. Together, we can end the water crisis. Please consider getting involved.


-Josh Elliott

Wine To Water Chapter Coordinator


Jan 19, 2015

Thoughts of a Wine To Water Volunteer

The following is a facebook post from Wine To Water volunteer, Ryan Mahan. Ryan volunteered with a group of students from Keene State College in the Dominican Republic from January 5-15. The follow is his own words. 

Let me tell you about these people. I have been out of the country with this group for the past ten day. After being placed back into American society where the culture and customs are varied, I have had the opportunity to gather my thoughts after a hot shower and a night of sleeping without bugs.

Collectively, we saw and encountered:
-A child vomit from poor health
-Older women act aggressive over deodorant 
-Children not using floss properly, or even know what floss is
-Homes with mud for a floor and rusty sheet metal for walls and a ceiling
-Days where we could not shower because it did not rain
-Days where we went dehydrated because we showered
-People could not afford a water filter that cost less than five US dollars
-Not being able to use the toilet for 3 hours because of flushed toilet paper
-The constant threat of poor health due to living conditions
-A piece of the 2.5 billion people who lack basic sanitation
-A piece of the 800 thousand people who lack access to clean water.

These are some of the mental images that I will not be able to erase. These are also some of the things that people can maybe imagine when they are told that you are going on a service trip. However, it is impossible to fully grasp these situations unless you have lived them. 

Collectively, we also saw and encountered:
- Not being able to walk down the street without being welcomed with conversation, chairs for all and coffee
-Willingness to teach
-Willingness to learn
-A game of high-fives that would go on for hours
-Hugs and kisses because we said "hola"
-Everyone knows everyone, and everyone is family
-The constant desire to put others first
-A smile and a wave from a stranger is the most common occurrence
-Friendships that can be created in only ten days that you know can easily last a lifetime, whether back in the states or with our friends in the Dominican- LisaLisaEnmanuel,RadhyMelissaMaria, and Radhames.

I may not be able to erase the mental images of the unbelievable things that we saw in the first list, but when I look back on this journey, the second list is what I am going to think of. Something we fail to realize is that we are all poor. Some may be poor in material items where others are poor in community. It is up to us to decide what is most important.

We were able to provide 800 people with clean water over the course of the next 5-8 years. We distributed over 300 filters. We saw how saw dust, clay and silver can change and save the lives of many. To be able to see the complete progression of this process is awing. I may never be able to fully describe the experience that I had to people that I did not share this time with, but it is my responsibility to try. 

I could not have asked for a better team to share this experience with. My co-leader had my back through it all and stepped in where I was weak. Our supervisor puts us all in a position to succeed and learn. The thirteen other team members joined us on a journey that had been in place since April, not knowing much about the situation. I can guarantee that this group will be the group that goes forward to serve, and serve some more. I could not be more proud. I love each and every one of you for your personalities and willingness to go into an area unknown by most. Thank you to all that helped make this experience a possibility, and I go on now ready to take on the world.

-Ryan Mahan, Keene State College, New Hampshire



Jan 15, 2015

Philippines Update

In the Philippines, from August 2014 to present, Wine to Water and our ground partners have provided relief to over 7,600 beneficiaries across 32 monitored locations in Cebu and Leyte. Together we have distributed 744 Sawyer water filters, 827 water storage containers, 528 hygiene kits, and successfully constructed four rainwater-harvesting systems.

With our ground partner in Leyte, Volunteers for the Visayans, we support ongoing relief and rehabilitation efforts for victims of Super Typhoon Haiyan/Yolanda, November 2013. To date we have assisted 2,860 people living within 457 bunkhouses spread across six transitional camps outside of Tacloban.  A few of our other distribution sites in Leyte include clinics, elementary schools, and evacuation centers where water filtration, water storage, and rainwater harvesting reaches an additional 1,000 people.

With our ground partner in Cebu, Children of the Coast Foundation, we have provided water filtration and clean water storage containers to over 2,500 children within 75 classrooms across eight elementary schools.  In addition to assisting elementary schools, our Cebu partner continues to assess and respond to areas affected by storms and typhoons that cause heavy flooding and landslides.  Severe weather storms like December’s most recent (Queenie, Ruby, and Seniang) often leave many families stranded or displaced and without access to safe drinking water. In response to recent storms, we’ve provided water filtration units to 190 far-flung and isolated households in hard to reach communities throughout Cebu, reaching 1,150 people.

Currently, in response to Super Typhoon Hagupit/Ruby, December 2014 our Leyte partner is distributing water filtration units and hygiene kits for 180 displaced families in Eastern Samar. Additionally, during January – February, 2015 we anticipate assisting an additional 700 ‘Yolanda’ affected households as they consolidate into yet, another camp.

Moving forward into 2015, our plans include continued relief and rehabilitation in Leyte and Cebu.  We will also begin our monitoring and evaluation phase as we conduct follow-up activities across all of our 2014 distribution sites. Our project focus will prioritize rainwater-harvesting, well repair, and shallow well protection.  We hope to transition from disaster response into a sustainable robust water program with our ground partners in the Philippines.

-Brad Ponack, International Project Coordinator

If you would like to support, click here.


Jan 5, 2015

A Letter from our CEO

David Cuthbert, Wine To Water CEO, is the newest member of the Wine To Water team. David wrote the letter below to thank each supporter who continues to support our clean water work around the world.

My name is David Cuthbert and I have had the honor to be a part of the Wine To Water team for a little over four months. After two and a half years of incredible leadership and service, Allen Peterson stepped down as CEO to take on other projects he is passionate about, and also fill the role as Wine To Water’s Chairman of the Board.  We are blessed to have him in this capacity and continue to benefit from his wisdom and leadership. 

Thank you, Allen, for your faithful service!

As for me, I am humbled and grateful for the responsibility given to me by the Board to help foster the growth of Wine To Water as its CEO.  In this capacity, I wanted to take the opportunity to share some of my observations, perspectives, and thoughts for our future. 

What was easily observed in a short time of hanging around the office is that Wine To Water has been able to provide clean water and sanitation to over 300,000 people, so far, because the organization is rooted and invested in relationships. These relationships extend in many different directions and include our donors and supporters, our team, our volunteers, our ground partners, and of course, our family of beneficiaries. It is truly an amazing network of people and organizations focused on making the world better one day at a time, one person at a time, through the gift of clean water. 

With all that has been done, it is easily understood by looking at reported statistics that more than 800 million people in the world still lack access to clean water, and there is much left to do. And, it goes without saying that the community in and around Wine To Water is committed to the task. Even so, nothing can begin without the support of our donors and partners.  In this regard, I want to extend a personal thank you for all you have done for supporting our efforts and all you will continue to do. You are truly a blessing to so many.

As a result of this continued support, in an effort to provide clean water and sanitation to the next 300,000 we will be focused on expanding and growing the key programs of our organization. This will include an expansion of our volunteer, our church and corporate partnership, our intern, our wine, and our city and student chapter programs.  If you are interested in learning more about any of these programs and how you or your organization can participate in supporting them, please contact us.

Despite all that is going on though, everything we do will have the singular focus of providing as many people as we can reach with clean water and sanitation.  This is our bottom line, and we look forward to growing it.

Thank you for your support, prayer, and friendship.

God bless,

David Cuthbert


Dec 6, 2014


This afternoon I had the opportunity of working with Kone-Kmeng's (WTW ground partner) drill and latrine team.  A few hours into the morning we completed the (above) waste holding cistern. The beneficiary received a well several months ago along with a micro-finance loan for farming which has already been re-payed. He is able to use the well for water access and gardening.  In the next few months he will be a recipient of a ceramic water filter.  With the additional income from the farming seed money he will be able to complete the latrine, continue to grow scalable small crops and have a livelihood.  This is the full-circle model of the 'water is life' concept that we have been discussing. Very thankful to be here in Cambodia.

-Brad Ponack, International Project Coordinator


Oct 8, 2014

Event Testimonial

Event Host Testimonial: Jeff Davidson

The following is a testimonial from an event host named Jeff Davidson. Jeff and his supporters raised over $1000 through a wine tasting, donations, and raffle prizes. Thank you Jeff for your kind words. 

Recent scientific studies suggest that two major contributors to someone being truly happy are gratitude and helping others. Why do I mention this? Because those are the personal dividends I have received in abundance from organizing my small wine tasting fundraisers in support of a wonderful organization, Wine to Water.

While channel surfing I landed on the CNN Hero Awards 2009 and there I found a source of inspiration. The founder of Wine to Water, Doc Hendley, gave a very moving speech and, if I may paraphrase here, said one thing that stuck in my heart and in my brain, "While other humanitarian efforts are worthwhile, nothing can be achieved in the advancement of a people unless they first have adequate access to clean, safe drinking water". Yes! That made perfect sense to me, that's the first step! This coincided with my personal belief that if we want to advance the human race, we have to do it together. I think the key element to surmounting the challenges of successfully organizing any sized event is finding a cause you truly believe in.

Flash forward to Christmas 2013. Wine to Water stayed on my radar and while contemplating a meaningful gift for my young adult niece and nephew, I came up with an idea to make a donation in their name along with a no pressure invitation to assist me in hosting wine tasting fundraisers. This also became a gift I unknowingly gave myself and what transpired was a complete experience filled with highs, lows, frustrations, but most of all an overwhelming sense of immense gratitude towards my family, friends, colleagues, and new acquaintances who rallied with generous hearts to assist the WTW cause. The positive effect of witnessing this and being at the center of it cannot be overstated. From the donations of printed materials to the donations of cool and swanky event spaces to the donations of choice raffle items to the donations of floral arrangements and decorations, but most of all to the donation of people's time, energy and good will inspired a joy in me that I think is not replicable from any other type of venture.

So I began by nervously submitting an events proposal to Wine to Water per the instructions on their website. I had no idea how to go about hosting a fundraiser; the task seemed out of my scope only being armed with a desire to contribute somehow to what I believe in. Turns out that a desire to help is the most important thing. If you have an honest desire, set goals and keep moving then step by step everything falls into place. The WTW events coordinator, Whitney Hendley, quickly put me at ease and gave me confidence that with perseverance it can be done. My exchanges with the WTW staff are one of the many highlights for me. Their advice and pointing out possible pitfalls were invaluable. They were careful in making sure that my events would adhere to WTW's essential guidelines, all the while encouraging me to get creative and make the events my own. What an awesome balance! Above it all what I found as being most helpful and inspiring was a simple statement that honestly I'm not sure if Whitney had said or if I read this in the "hosting events" section of their website or both. That idea is a simple motto of quality over quantity, that the most important thing is raising awareness about the world's water crisis rather than raising gigantic piles of money. Coming to this mindset changed everything for me. Raising funds to continue important work in the field of course remained the goal, but what became of equal importance was the spreading of awareness. I latched onto this concept and suddenly everything became doable, everything became fun. Do not underestimate the importance of making it fun! I realized that gaining support from the general populace and opening their hearts to a cause has a lasting benefit that can equal or even outpace the most generous of cash donations. That I can do, that's where a guy like me can make a difference. And in talking with people about the world's water crisis...I find inspiration.

If I had to choose only one anecdote to exemplify my fundraising experience it would be this: Late into the first wine tasting event an elegant woman with a foreign accent I didn't recognize approached me and asked, "Are you Jeff, are you the host of this event?". I replied, "Why yes, I am". She looked me straight in the eye and said, "Well then I'd like to personally thank you in the name of all the people you are helping and have no idea what is going on here tonight. You see, as a girl in my native country we faced terrible water scarcity. I barely survived while many in my village, including a sibling, did not. And so I know from personal experience how great the need is and how access to clean water quite literally saves lives".  This filled my heart to the brim. She was a living breathing example of what we are working towards in overcoming the world's water crisis. I'm so very grateful that in my own small way I'm helping others and contributing to positive changes. Happiness!

I strongly encourage anyone of any means to find a cause they believe in and work toward its benefit. Whether it be organizing a conference with ten thousand attendees, hands on work in a remote village, hosting a wine tasting fundraiser, holding a car wash to benefit a local school, or just taking an hour out of your busy week to mow an elderly neighbor lady's lawn, the rewards are immeasurable and the positive effect on one's life is long lasting. In closing, I'd like to say to each and every one of you reading this something that we who are involved with Wine to Water like to say to one another



Sep 15, 2014

Canal Fulton Christian Fellowship

Church Program

The VBS kids at Canal Fulton Christian Fellowship Church in Canal Fulton, Ohio raised over $300 for a well in Guatemala. According to Elizabeth Ostergren, the Children’s Ministry Director, the theme of the week was “Jesus is my lifesaver.” She challenged the kids from each age group to see who could raise the most support and the winning group would be able to pie their teacher in the face at the end of the week. We are so encouraged by children like those at Canal Fulton who learn about the water crisis and choose to participate and make a difference in such a fun way. Thank you CanalFulton Christian Fellowship! Because of you, we are able to provide clean water to over 300 men, women, and children in Guatemala. 


Sep 12, 2014

Laying The Groundwork

His weekly commute to work is usually on his Harley motorcycle through the winding, sloping and scenic backroads of Boone, N.C., a place he never thought he would be after graduating from college.

Josh Elliott, who has described himself as a bit of a introverted black sheep, is part of the reason why Wine to Water has accomplished and established what it has through social media, the Internship Program, volunteer trips and -- most importantly -- the Chapter Program.

The Media/Campus Coordinator at Wine to Water not only helped create other avenues of awareness and volunteer opportunities for the organization, but found a place for himself along the way with a group of people he now refers to as the most generous he’s ever met.

Starting out

Josh first heard about Wine to Water during his college days at Appalachian State University, located in walking distance from the nonprot’s main office. After hearing Founder and International President Doc Hendley speak on campus for an event, Josh and a friend decided to start a club at Appalachian connected to Wine to Water, and to do what they could to fight the global water crisis and bring awareness of it to others.

“My first impression was that this is a very genuine organization, and by genuine I mean people who are simply wanting to help people all over the world no matter what,” he said. “I realized right then and there that I wanted to be a part of it.”

While serving as the president of the first ever campus chapter of Wine to Water, Josh was impressed with the amount of attention ASU Wine to Water was receiving. “Luckily, people on campus and around town already knew what Wine to Water was, but honestly we were surprised at how many people were excited to come to the initial meeting and get involved,” he said. “We almost didn’t know what to do with all the people willing to help.”

But all new, and even existing, clubs come with its set of challenges.

“As an individual and a leader of the group, it showed me a lot about what not to do, I made a lot of mistakes at first,” he said. “It was Wine to Water’s first chapter, so we quickly figured out what works and what doesn’t work.” Fortunately, Josh and the early members were able to turn those situations into learning experiences, which would later be just as helpful when he created the Chapter Program.

“As we’ve replicated that initial App State model on other campuses we’ve seen it take a life of its own.” he said, “Other students have improved upon our initial model and made it their own.”

The program today

Josh was hired to the Wine to Water staff as the Media/Campus Coordinator in January 2012 shortly after graduating from Appalachian in December 2011 with a degree in public relations.

While most college students and their Wine to Water chapters don’t have enormous amounts of money to put toward the nonprot’s cause, Josh has noticed during his time at Appalachian an abundant supply of resources that students have plenty of to give: time and service.

“Right away we saw the benefits of organizing students around the idea of clean water, so quickly we thought, ‘this could be replicated at other universities,’” he said. “We already have students supporting it, why not challenge them to support their own campus chapter?” 

Since then, Wine to Water has added 12 college campus chapters and two high school chapters in the United States. Many are located in North Carolina and in the southeast, but others spread out to campuses such as Indiana University- Purdue University Indianapolis and College of the Holy Cross in Massachusetts. 

And like the initial chapter at Appalachian, these chapters raise awareness of the global water crisis through fundraising and awareness events on campus and in the community. 

“We try to give them ownership over their chapter’s service by challenging them to come up with something they can do to benefi Wine to Water, that may be organizing a volunteer service trip, helping us get connected to local businesses in their area or it may be on campus throwing events and making people more aware of Wine to Water and the water crisis.”

Josh has most recently encouraged students at various chapters to get involved with volunteer work. Students at Appalachian and West Texas A&M have already gone into the eld, with students at Florida International University gearing up for a trip next year.

“Whether it’s during their spring break, winter break or over the summer, we want them to begin planning to serve on a volunteer service trip,” he said. “It not only improves them as a person, but also improves their chapter and their school’s credibility and service.” From expanding the number of chapters where Wine to Water is present and encouraging a number students to volunteer in the field, Josh’s efforts have not gone unnoticed by his coworkers.

“You can see his solid character throughout all his work with Wine to Water, but especially the Chapter Program,” Lisa Merritt, Volunteer Coordinator, said. “He wants students to become aware of the water crisis and experience what he did as a student, which motivated him to establish and grow the Chapter Program and the organization as a whole."

Likewise, the students he works with to help start their chapters and keep them in the loop with news from Wine to Water have taken notice of Josh’s work.

“Josh has supported each and every event,” said Dillon Vess, a senior at UNC Chapel Hill and founding member of the university’s chapter. “I can’t say enough good things about Josh. He’s passionate, hard working, smart, and leads by pious example. Josh is instrumental to our chapter at Carolina.”

More than a program

Josh did not help start the rst campus chapter of Wine to Water in 2009 because he knew it would one day lead to a job in the Appalachian Mountains with the benefits of travelling the U.S. for events and the world for field work.

He did it to help him nd his own way.

“When I first started hearing about Wine to Water, I hadn’t found anything that I really felt a part of or that made me feel accepted,” Josh said. “I kind of felt like a black sheep in a way, so for me the effort to start the chapter helped me to begin filling that void that I was feeling.”

And through finding a way for himself and others, Josh found himself among the staff of Wine to Water, who helped restore his faith in others.

“I quickly learned how extraordinary they were and the work that they were doing,” he said. “In a lot of ways, Wine to Water restored my faith in people; it allowed me to grow as man, I truly consider them family.”

And Josh sees others like him at the various college chapters. But just as importantly as seeing students who were like him, Josh sees a diverse mix of students organized around the idea of clean water.

“It doesn’t matter who you are, where you’ve been and what you’re doing,” he said. “You can be a part of Wine to Water, all that matters is that you’re passionate about giving people clean water and you’re passionate about loving people. There are so many students who have that mindset, they’ve been given the opportunity to get involved because of the Chapter Program and to me that makes it all worth it.”

Where it’s going

Aside from the Chapter Program empowering students to raise awareness and work in the eld, Josh sees the potential for it to do more in the sense of service within the educational system.

“Wine to Water gives not only students extracurricularly opportunities to give back but it also gives a business school a good model of how a nonprot or business is run,” he said. “And, it gives a sustainability department the opportunity to see real work being done in the field effectively.”

Josh hopes to see the programs and people involved in them grow to the hundreds across the country that can ultimately contribute back to Wine to Water. But even with those broad goals in mind, he still hopes that the program, or even his story, can help inspire at least one student out there like him while he was in college.

“I’d like to just say to any student who is on the fence about getting involved with Wine to Water or with anything that they are passionate about, don’t think about all that could go wrong, don’t just go through the motions and play it safe,” he said. “Take that first step toward making your goal happen and you’ll be so surprised at how you’re rewarded in the end.”

-Feature Article in the September Issue of Cana


Jul 17, 2014

Finding Another Chance

Finding Another Chance

When Wine to Water’s wine director became part of the organization several years ago, he found more than just a career, a home and a family.

He found a second chance.

It was his job just a few years ago to oversee the distribution of wine for a wholesale company, and all of western North Carolina was his turf.

Jessup Marion’s line of work brought him to Boone in 2007, back when Appalachian State University football was still in its dynasty mode and Doc Watson’s physical presence still graced the stages at local music festivals. But neither of those were the reason Jessup come to the High Country. Jessup was in Boone to sell wine to the good people of Appalachia.

He parked his car on King Street and went to anywhere in the downtown district where he saw the word “wine” on a door or window. He’d do his sales pitch, shake hands and start friendly relationships with potential clients, something he has always been gifted at doing.

On his last day in Boone, Jessup saw the opportunity for one last sale before leaving town. Following his word association strategy, he targeted the sign of a place called Wine to Water and walked inside.

“Let’s go try to make a sale,” he thought to himself before entering.

But this stop seven years ago didn’t result in commission and it didn’t open the possibility of a follow up sale when Jessup would eventually return to Boone at a later date. Instead, the wine wholesaler walked into the organization and lives of two staff members -- Doc Hendley and Annie Clawson, who is now Annie Marion -- that would change his life and give him the second chance he had been searching and asking for.

“Doc gave me a chance where a lot of people didn’t give me a chance,” he said. “I’ve always been sort of a loner to be honest with you. I don’t know if it was because of my own doing or just because of whatever it was. Once I met Wine to Water and Doc and Annie, they believed in me and they gave me a chance to be a part of something that I can’t ever repay. The people I work with now, they’re so close they’re like family -- and I’ve never really had that.”

Now seven years later, Wine to Water has given him charge of the wines as the wine director and he has a home in the mountains of North Carolina with his family.

And Jessup has given Wine to Water a private label and a bright future with the wine program that was unimaginable before he showed up.

Early impressions

Jessup had two impressions when he walked into the door and learned about Wine to Water for the first time. One of them was the sensation he felt when he learned why the nonprofit existed in the first place.

“I don’t even really know what the word is, but I was overwhelmed with just the fact that I didn’t know anything about this water crisis and that there was something out there that’s killing so many people that’s the most elemental thing in the world. I had no idea about it.”

Jessup then realized that this moment, that this opportunity was something he had been searching for in his life. The traveling wine salesman at the time said he was feeling lost as a person and had been looking to be part of something bigger than himself.

“I think we all get to a point in our lives, regardless of what you’re doing or where you are, that you want to try to contribute back to society or feel like you’re a part of something,” he said, “and I was blessed and fortunate to walk into the door that day and find that I could potentially.”

Aside from this impression of a greater worth in one’s self and contributing to others at the same time, Jessup noticed something else -- or rather someone else.

“With Annie, she was glowing from the moment I saw her and that struck me pretty hard when I first walked through the door.”

But the now married couple, who have one young child and another on the way, didn’t exactly make the connection right away -- at least not for Annie, anyway.

“It’s funny looking back at it because Annie thought I was trouble, and quite honestly I was at that time,” Jessup said. “But I just kept hanging out and being around them, trying to show her that I wanted to make a change in my life and that I’m not as bad of a person inside, that I had a good heart and I wanted to show her that and get the opportunity to. I just kept hanging out and bugging her really. She shot me down a lot.”

But eventually, after volunteering and showing his commitment to the organization, the vice president of Wine to Water came around to the new guy and got to know the Jessup not many people know.

“I think as you get to know Jessup, you see that he’s not the kind of person that immediately you see his tender, soft side and the tears in his eyes and things like that,” Annie said, “but that’s the real Jessup that I fell in love with. He has the most tender heart, is very compassionate and is very passionate about the things that he does. I started seeing who he really was and not who he was portraying, or who he was kind of hiding under. I got to see the heart of who he was.”

In 2010, the two Wine to Water staff members were married and later welcomed their first child, Jackson Marion, into the world Jan. 30, 2013. Their second child is expected to be born in December.

Others in the Wine to Water office, including Doc -- who is the founder and international president -- have noticed the kind of husband and father Jessup has become.

“The good Lord gave Jessup many gifts, but the one that I have enjoyed witnessing the most is his gift of being a great dad,” he said. “Watching Annie and Jessup's family life take shape has truly been a blessing for me and everyone else in that office. We're all one big family anyway, and it's been a joy to watch that family grow.”

And for Jessup, both of these impressions he initially had coming in have helped him reach where he is now in his life.

“I have a home here in the mountains and sometimes I can’t even believe where I’m at, to be honest with you.”

Making the commitment

That same day in 2007 when Jessup learned about Wine to Water, he and Doc grabbed a beer at a nearby bar to talk more about the nonprofit, and ultimately Jessup’s involvement.

“He told me more about the organization and right then I knew and I told Doc then that I wanted to be a part of this in any way I can,” he said. “I committed myself at that point to start volunteering in any way I could. I didn’t really know what that meant at the time or what it was going to look like, but Doc and Annie both welcomed me in and gave me an opportunity to contribute whatever I could.”

And volunteering is what he did. At events, Jessup noticed Doc and Annie trying to do everything from socializing to providing drinks, so he stepped in with his talents and connections to take some of the pressure off.

“[Doc] turned it over to me there,” he said. “And for about two years after that point, I went to every event that I could possible go to, volunteering as far as pouring wine and supplying wine and just helping out in any angle I could, really so they could have more time to grow awareness and mingle and do their thing.”

And by 2009, all of the work and time paid off. Jessup became the very first wine director for Wine to Water, a position he continues to serve in and expand to this day.

Given a second chance

To Jessup, Wine to Water is much more than a career mingled with passion and purpose. It is more than a group of coworkers that are also like family. This place is his second chance.

“Before Wine to Water, I was at the point where I went through some really bad times and I was pretty much giving up on life. I was just going through the motions. And I was at the point where I was saying, ‘God if you’re real show me, because I can’t do this alone anymore and I don’t want to,’” he said. “‘Take me home’ is what I used to pray and I would pray for him to take me.”

But knowing Doc and Annie and having them in his life gave Jessup the answers and opportunities he had been asking for.

“I met Doc, Annie and Wine to Water and since I’ve been here I know what God really is to me now and that I’m here for a purpose,” he said.  “And my faith continues to grow and it’s only grown stronger since I met Doc and Annie, especially Annie.”

The future of the wines

Jessup’s time at Wine to Water, from volunteering to a full-time staff position, has helped grow the wine portion of the organization.

Because of Jessup’s efforts, Wine to Water has its own label through Brutocao Cellars and Bliss Family Vineyards in California, which features a Red Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc.

Doc said it is because of Jessup’s work and effort that the organization even has wine to offer.

“He has spearheaded getting our label up and running for the last five years,” he said. “In my mind, our wine label is one of the things that makes us unique as a charity and I see that wine label, and thus Jessup, playing a major role as the organization continues to expand.”

Annie said that if he had not shown up the wine program probably would have been cut altogether.

“He has fought to keep it alive,” she said. “And I think that we, just not knowing what we were doing and getting discouraged, may have easily just nixed the wine program.”

Jessup’s vision for the future of the wine program is still in the works, but one major project is a wine club referred to as an “Ambassadors Club” in order to reflect on the organization’s roots.

“So if you’re a member of this wine club, then you really are an ambassador to Wine to Water and doing these home events where we first started and growing. It’s definitely a work in progress as far as the future of getting to where I envision the wine part of Wine to Water being.”

Faith, family and friendship

Searching in life for answers, coming across Wine to Water and starting a family in Boone is not just some wild, fortunate occurrence to Jessup Marion.

“I don’t believe in coincidence anymore. God puts everything in motion for a reason, he made me walk through that door one day and he’s brought the people that are here into my life now, and I didn’t expect it.”

Through Wine to Water and through the people he has grown close to because of it, Jessup and those around him know he has a greater sense of faith, family and friendship since his wholesale days in 2007.

“I mean, family is everything and family really is everything,” he said. “Your best friends are in your family and your support system is in your family.”

Finding Wine to Water seven years ago gave Jessup more than he could have imagined. Through both his personal and professional interactions, Jessup’s involvement in Wine to Water gave him another chance in life.

“Walking in the door to wine to water that day, I not only found a purpose but I found my life through Annie and through Doc and Wine to Water.”


May 6, 2014

Just One Shift

Andrea Kaji embodies everything you’d expect in a bartender. The Chicagoan has been in the bartending business for nearly a decade, including for a time in college. To Andrea, this is a way of life.

“In Chicago, our industry is a career for many people. As a bartender or server, you have many transactions and you meet a slew of various characters. A bar is almost set up like a stage. Your consumers become the audience. What are they looking for? What can you teach them?

So what does Andrea teach her patrons? Perhaps her work with Wine to Water’s annual campaign directed toward those in bartending is an example.

Andrea participated in last year’s inaugural Just One Shift, a campaign where bartenders and servers alike donate their tips from one shift to WTW. Last year, Andrea with help of some friends in Chicago raised $3,000 -- and they look to outdo themselves this year.

What is Just One Shift?

Just One Shift is WTW’s annual fundraiser that encourages bartenders and servers to donate their tips from one shift, which takes place between May 12 and 18 this year.

“Just One Shift started when world renowned bartender, Gaz Regan, approached us with the idea in early 2013” said Josh Elliott, social media and campus coordinator for WTW. “His passion for the service industry was hard to ignore and is very well respected in the industry.

He pitched the idea to us and we all agreed that it was very in line with our roots as an organization.” Just One Shift was inspired by WTW’s unique approach to fundraising. International President Doc Hendley hosted similar events in 2004 to raise money in the fight to provide clean water to those in need, and the purpose still remains 10 years later.

“Last year we were overwhelmed by the support that came in from around the world,” Josh said. “More than 327 bartenders in 34 countries participated. We raised $40,000. The service industry is a compassionate crowd who move quick and can make a big impact. I doubt they'll let last year out do their efforts this year.”

Andrea first heard about JOS through her sister, who had just learned about Doc’s trip to Syria. “She also mentioned that there was a campaign in which I could get involved in by tapping into the service industry.” Andrea said. “Our mother is from Syria, and we had plans to visit family in Syria right when the war broke out.” Through the efforts of bartenders and servers across the world, WTW was able to raise $40,000 last year. The organization’s goal this year? It’s $100,000.

Why it all matters

WTW isn’t alone in setting the bar high. Andrea plans to make an impact with JOS in Chicago again, this time hoping to raise between $5,000 and $10,000.

“The goal is to get as many bartenders and servers to participate around the world. We plan to challenge bartenders and servers in a little friendly competition. In Chicago, we plan to support as many bartenders involved during the campaign week and have a Just One Shift finale.”

Andrea says she believes this campaign is an incredible way to make a difference in the lives of those affected by the global water crisis.

“Just One Shift is an easy and effective way to truly make a difference and save lives. When you have two bartenders who are devoted and driven to make a dent on an epidemic that affects 2.5 billion people around the world, it’s hard not to pay attention.” And it’s her involvement in the service industry that Andrea says helped lead her to her role with WTW now.

“Quite frankly, service industry employees have always been some of the most hard working and hospitable people I’ve ever really met. They are always actively looking to participate in the greater good. This is a great way to start; its how I started.

Continuing to spread WTW’s mission

Andrea’s work with WTW does not stop at JOS. After last year’s event, she helped organize the Chicago chapter of WTW. “We are branching out from the wine world into all aspects of the service industry. We have had a tremendous amount of support from Allagash, Lagunitas, Sazerac, Wirtz, Vanberg & DeWulf and currently from UN86’d.” Andrea will also help to host Doc in Chicago on June 1 when he will speak at Webster’s Wine Bar.

“If this chapter evolves, we’d love to replicate it in various cities around the country or around the world.” After all, if one bartender was able to spearhead a nonprofit, think what several bartenders and servers across the world could do in just one shift.


Apr 14, 2014

Founder's Vision

Starting an internationally known non-profit is no easy task. It takes hard work, it takes a dedicated team, and a vision. But it all started with a leap of faith. 

Doc Hendley’s story has been told many times over the years.  e son of a preacher who loves to ride his Harley had the idea in a dream years ago of what would one day become Wine to Water. He’s traveled the world to provide clean water and spread his message, started the non-profit with the help of others and he’s started a family in the mountains of North Carolina.

But there’s more to Doc’s 10-year story with Wine to Water.

 “Most people think that when I had the idea for Wine To Water that I never looked back and that I stayed the course and was passionate all the time, but that’s not the complete truth” he said. “ the truth is there have been a lot of hard times along with the great times. When times were hard, I doubted my ability to push forward.”

Every time something difficult confronted Doc, he was forced to rely on an important element to help pull him through: his faith. 

 “Whether it was getting shot at in Darfur, Sudan, or it was worrying about how we would stay open after the financial collapse in 2008, my faith has been tested time and again these last 10 years.”

 But what kept Doc going back then is keeping him looking forward to the future.

 “My faith has been tested time and again these last 10 years. Every single time, God has been faithful and given me the strength I needed to overcome problems I faced.”

Shifting roles

Doc’s involvement with Wine to Water has taken what he says is a positive turn in the last few years. 

 “My roll with WTW has been evolving since the beginning.  The first three years I worked a number of jobs to make ends meet, while volunteering my time to raise funding for WTW and get it started. By 2007, with the help of friends Coy Isaacs and Annie Marion, we became our own 501(c)(3) non-profit. For the next four years, I worked full time as the President/CEO.”

Since 2011, Doc has written a book, and Allen Peterson took over as CEO/President, which has given Doc more time to focus on public speaking, traveling to the field and being able to attend major WTW events around. 

“In 2011 I quit taking a salary from WTW and became International President. My role now is more as visionary leader and fundraiser for the organization. However, the one thing that has stayed consistent has been my involvement in the field.”

In 2013 alone, Doc traveled to Syria, Haiti, Cambodia, Uganda, Colombia and the Philippines. 

 “These last three years have been a dramatic shift for us and a blessing. Our team has grown significantly in numbers and capability, allowing me to move into a much better role.”

Goals, vision and faith

Doc wants to help people in need. After all, that’s why he started Wine to Water in the first place.  The non-profit’s reach is expanding, but Doc wants to see he and his team reach even further. 

“We continue to grow exponentially each year and provide more and more people with clean water. It has taken us 10 years to reach 250,000 people, but by the end of next year (2015) we hope to have reached our 1 millionth person.” 

But there’s more to the future than quantitative figures in Doc’s vision. He sees the faith of himself and the faith of those in the organization to play a vital role in Wine to Water’s mission.

“We are an organization made of people of faith. But instead of using our faith as a way to make everyone believe the same things we believe, we have a different view. I believe that our faith calls us to love and help anyone and everyone. Whether it is an Islamic community in the Middle East or a Buddhist community in Cambodia, we feel it is our mission to help, love and build relationships.”

Doc’s vision was never to place an earmark on Wine to Water’s services that required those he and others helped to accept a specific type faith, but to help and love others unconditionally.

“In the end, I am convinced that true love does not judge or condemn. True love is willing to serve anyone without question or judgment.”

Looking ahead

Doc’s story, or the “Founder’s Story,” will continue to be told. But Doc wants more stories, not just his, to be told through Wine to Water.

“Our team is growing and is full of amazing people. Moving forward, the stories of the people in our organization will be told more to show everyone we are not a one- or two-person show. In fact, if something were to happen to me tomorrow, our organization would move on just fine without me. I want the stories of our great team members to be shared and I also want to share more about the impact our work has had on the families in the countries where we work.”

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Nov 6, 2013

Community Support

Regan Fahey, a 5th grader, chose to raise money for Wine To Water as her school project. She decided to run a 5K and ask friends & family to donate just $1 for each mile she ran. Regan's community united around her passion to give and raised a total of $200! Thank you Regan and the amazing people that surround you.

We are honored to have your support!
-WTW Team


Aug 22, 2013

Give Up a Glass

Tiffany Shatley part owner of Sweet & Savory, an American style restaurant located in downtown West Jefferson, hosted an event at her restaurant to benefit Wine To Water.  After learning about the water crisis and reading Doc Hendley’s Wine To Water: A Bartenders Quest to Bring Clean Water to the World, she decided to use her resources as a vessel for change. 

The event was held once in June and another in August, where they asked their Sweet & Savory customers to “give up a glass” of tea, coffee, or soda and only drink water. They then asked their customers to consider donating a few dollars to help raise money for the 1 billion people around the world who lack access to clean water. All summer, Sweet & Savory displayed information and materials that would inform their customers of the water crisis. They raised over $1500!!!

This is a brilliant idea; we just had to share it!  We are so excited and encouraged by such creative, passionate individuals such as Tiffany and everyone at Sweet & Savory. Thank you for your hard work and for your support of Wine To Water!! Keep up the good work.




Jun 24, 2013

Guatemala: Oscar's Choices

I met Oscar years ago when we worked in a horrible slum outside Guatemala City. Oscar, who is short and stout, moved about that slum like he was Tigger from Winnie the Pooh – smiling, never resting, Over the last decade, he has devoted his life to the poor in Guatemala, feeding and clothing them, providing medicines, building and repairing children’s centers, churches and homes.  He is a magician with any tool.

He has helped establish over 100 churches.  He is Guatemalan and sustains himself, and those around him, on humility, kindness, devotion and energy.  He is in sixth gear always, unless asleep.  He has taught me more about dedicating a life to good than anyone I know. 

Years into our friendship, he described one of his choices in life.  The day he made this choice was over a decade ago.  He had opened his mail to find two job offers.  One was from a Canadian engineering company for a six-figure salary.  The other was to be a full-time missionary in Guatemala, earning far less in a dangerous environment.  He told me he held one letter is his right hand and the other in his left, comparing each.  He chose the job as a missionary.

Recently, Oscar and I were traveling together in Guatemala, checking on Wine To Water projects. Making conversation, I asked him what countries he would like to visit before he died? He has been to very few. Being American, I expected to hear him tell me:  “Italy, or France, or Spain, or Greece.”  These are the places Americans think about, as we see vacations as a gift to ourselves – a chance in a lifetime. 

I waited as Oscar thought, and then he said: “Well Allen, I want to go to Haiti and Ethiopia.” 

Stunned at his answer, I asked him “Why?”

Oscar replied, “I want to go there because that is where the poorest of the poor live.  I want to help them.”

I said nothing, as shame silences me every time.  I compared my choices in life to the ones Oscar has made.   What had I missed in making my decisions, and what he had gained in making his?  I have to think about my choices more, as they mark the chances of a lifetime.



Jun 19, 2013

Cambodia: Sok's Family

We are so proud of our Cambodian partner, Kone Kmeng. The update below was recently shared with us and we couldn't resist spreading the word on the truly life changing work they do!

“A Pump Well+ $25 = Make a family difference”

Sok’s Family Story: Hope of Children Project, Svay Rieng province Cambodia 

Sok's family was very poor. She stayed at home with her older parents and her two children. Her husband had left the family to look for job by the border of Cambodia and Thailand. Even, he got a job there but it turned that he couldn't send enough to support his family at home. In 2011, Sok got a pump well and small loan of $25 to buy vegetable seed from our program. Since then, things started improving in her family regarding health and economic. A year later, Sok asked her husband to come back home. Now, both are working hard on their sugarcane farm and vegetable farm around the house. Sok said "Without a well, we had a poor health and we couldn't do anything to improve our family. But the well and the small loan have helped our family so much. Every month, I can make at least $80 for selling the sugarcanes and vegetable. Now, I am even more happy that my husband is back with us." 


May 20, 2013

Giving the gift of clean water!

Wine to Water would like to specially thank Peggy Moseley and Maria Taylor for hosting a Greek Birthday Celebration in lieu of supporting our cause!

Peggy and Maria decided to host a Greek Night “with lots of wine” in honor of their friends who have birthdays in May.  They told all of their guests to pick up one of our brochures and drop ‘any amount’ into the empty wine bucket.  Because of their selfless act, they ended up raising $485. Maria said that “we had a wonderful time” and that she hopes this idea will catch on. 

Thank you again to everyone who was involved in the support of raising these funds, spreading further awareness of the water crisis, and creating a fun and generous way to celebrate friend’s birthdays. You ladies saved the lives of many and we salute you. 

A special belated happy birthday to Cindy Outz, Rose Wilkins, Virginia Crooks, and Wanda Johns!



May 6, 2013

Uganda Hand Pump Repair

International Projects Mananger, Kyle Lomax, explains the "Block & Tackle" pulley system used by our team in Uganda to repair hand-pump wells. Its great to see our guys having fun!!!


Feb 15, 2013

The Faith of Guatemala

-Photo left to right: Allen Peterson, Oscar Martin, David Rosser, Geraldo, Kyle Lomax, Melissa Sutton, Jeff Holt-

It was late January this year when he introduced himself as “Geraldo.”  I asked for a last name, and he responded: “Just Geraldo, no last name.”  I thought about the absence of a last name, its significance.  Jesus, Adele, Bono, Oprah; so just “Geraldo,” was o.k. with me.

I gauge his age at fifty-five.  He is stoic and confident, because he has seen and experienced more than I have, at a more profound level.  He is used to life with physical hardship, of not enough to survive, of looking at this day only, not tomorrow or next week.  He lives on faith and hope surrounded by tragedy, sickness, and despair.

He is a pastor in Mas Agua, a poor, rural village 100 kilometers south of Guatemala City. His church has about 350 members, 270 of them children.  Pastor Geraldo tells us that 70 % of his congregation is chronically ill from water borne illnesses and that most of the kids live with stomach parasites and diarrhea.  

I briefly met Geraldo in the summer of 2012, when Doc Hendley and I visited Mas Agua to see if Wine To Water could provide clean water to the village.  We were only exploring –seeing if sustainable water projects were possible in this rural region of Guatemala.  We talked to Geraldo for over an hour then, and left telling him we would let him know if we could help.  If we could, his church would have to hand dig a 30-foot deep well before we would return to install a pump, pipe and a filter system.  Our last words to him were not to count on a water project and not to dig the well until we gave him the o.k.

In December 2012 a missionary friend, Roger Briggs, called to say that just Geraldo had not heeded our words of caution. Right after Doc and I left, he and his congregation began to pray, seeking guidance about digging the well.  After months of prayer, the church agreed that they would dig a well.  When I heard the news, I asked if he had understood us.  He had heard us all right, but had listened to a different voice.  On faith alone, the well was completed.  I wondered how often I operated purely on faith, relying solely on God, and not on all the stuff that I have bought to barricade me?

Although the well was in place, the water it brought was contaminated, still poison.  Geraldo knew this, but also knew the first step in faith is obedience.  The second step was ours – we had to provide a filtration system to purify the water.  I talked to Doc, Annie, Jessup, Kyle and Josh.  We all agreed that Mas Agua would get clean water.

When Kyle and I arrived at the church on January 28th this year, just Geraldo had been there for hours.  He had been preparing for the work to be done.  He had brought a watermelon for us to share. As he greeted us, Geraldo’s eyes revealed that he knew this day would come. We all worked together for two days, installing a pump, the filter, and a 350-gallon tank that would hold water drawn from the well and purified by our filtration system.  I watched Geraldo without staring at him.  As we assembled the pump and piping, he took the lead.  Within an hour, it was clear that Geraldo was very skilled at plumbing.  He and Kyle worked well together, bridging a language gap with hand jesters, broken English and Spanish, and laughter.

When the plumbing was done, Geraldo disappeared.  I didn’t see him for a while, as we welded a platform for the tank and glued pipe joints.  When he returned, Geraldo had electric wire, switches, and crude tools.  He began wiring power for the pump and revamping the old wire that lead to it.  He was a gifted electrician as well.

It took our team a couple of days to get the system ready to test.  When Geraldo hit the power switch, everything worked beautifully.  We were soon transforming dirty, coffee colored liquid into pure, drinkable water.  We all drank from the tap, satisfied with what we had done.  But, I wondered what exactly we had done?  We had of course helped a village to eliminate water borne illness. The church will provide water for everyone in the village, regardless of faith. The kids would be healthier without the parasites, they would go to school more often, and would have a better chance at life.  The adults would also have less sickness and more healthy days to work and support their families. 

That’s what we had done, but what had been done to us?  I thought about the fact that Mas Agua means “more water” in Spanish.  The Spanish word for depth of a well is “profundo,” like the English word profound.  We had come to a place to provide more water, and in the process had learned a profound truth.  We had been witnesses to the power of operating on faith.  That is a lesson at least equal to the value of clean water.