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Wine to Water Fund-raiser
The George • 128 S. Water St.
March 26, 3 p.m. – 6 p.m.

AQUA REVIVAL: Every 15 seconds a child dies from lack of clean water or water-related illness. wine to Water helps lessen those numbers. Courtesy photo.

Water-related diseases and deaths cause more problems worldwide than many of us can fathom. Simply put, poor sanitation is a major account for infection among a world population where 884 million people lack access to safe water—that’s one in eight people ( Thus, it’s preposterous to think we live in the 21st century and still have folks dying from cholera when technology can start a car with the push of an iPhone app.

The issue is a hot topic for Dickson Beattie “Doc” Hendley, founder of Wine to Water, a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing safe and clean aqua to people across the world. Hendley founded Water to Wine in 2003 after spending time in Darfur, Sudan, installing water systems for victims of government-supported genocide. The lingering imagery of suffering people in Africa left an indelible imprint on Hendley. Thus, he felt compelled to find a way to start a nonprofit focused on providing clean water to those in need.

Having most experience in bartending and playing music, Hendley decided he would combine the two and throw fund-raisers where wine and music would help generate funds for water system pumps to be installed in geographically barren places. To date he has worked in Sri Lanka, Ethiopia, Haiti, Peru, Cambodia and India, among others. His efforts have been recognized not only globally but on his own soil. He was selected as a CNN Hero in 2009, featuring ordinary people making extraordinary impacts on the world.

Named after the Biblical story of how Jesus turned water into wine at a wedding ceremony, Wine to Water fund-raisers began in Raleigh, North Carolina, but quickly expanded as folks became more than willing to help. Today, the initiative helps empower global communities by solving their water and sanitation needs, which includes teaching the people how to construct and maintain the resources, as well as learn about appropriate hygiene.

“I was introduced to Wine to Water last year at the Blockade Runner by one of my wine distributors,” Douglas Saunders, general manager of The George, says. “I was fascinated by the concept of selling wine that could produce funds to help others have clean drinking water.”

After hosting the successful event, Saunders decided to bring it to his new workplace, The George, on March 26. “My goal for fund-raising is rather high,” he admits without apology. “If 500 people attend the event, it would be wonderful [to see] every person donate $10, which would equal $5000.”

Attendees will receive free appetizers and partake in a wine tasting. Wines by the glass will be sold for $5. All sales from wine purchases also get donated to Wine to Water. “Hopefully there will be some generous donors that day as well,” Douglas says.

Wine distributors donating to the event include Empire, Tryon and Mutual. Also a winemaker, Water to Wine will have their personal stash for sale, including their 2007 Old Vine Zinfandel and 2008 Estate Chardonnay, which will be shipped to the buyers’ homes upon purchase. Sysco foods has provided complimentary food for 300 guests, but Douglas notes, “In the event we get crazy, of course, The George will put out more food of our choice.”

Already the guest list includes invites to Senator Thom Goolsby, Representative Susi Hamilton and Mayor Bill Saffo. As of press time, Douglas confirms 100 attendees from the Facebook event post.

“The most important thing to remember is that all it takes is $500 to provide a well for a village of 500 people, which would provide them clean drinking water for 10 years,” Douglas reminds. “The best part: They do not have to travel two or three miles to find the clean water; it would be right out their door.”

The Wine to Water fund-raiser takes place Saturday, March 26, from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. at The George downtown, 128 South Water Street. To send donations to the organization directly, mail checks to Wine to Water, PO Box 2567, Boone, NC 28607.

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