Access to clean water has the ability to transform the lives of the most vulnerable in Rwanda, but it can also transform the lives of our advocates living in the U.S. who share their passion for clean water with their family, friends and community to make a difference in the lives of families they may never meet.
Amy Townley, who lives in West Michigan with her husband and two daughters, was moved by the 20 Liters stories she was hearing at church, and wanted to become more involved. She began by attending a Walk for Water and making family donations. Realizing the importance of our work in Rwanda, and seeing the effect that a helping hand can provide for those in need through her work as a social worker, Amy decided to do something more.
At about this same time in 2012, Amy began training to run a marathon, which is no small feat in itself! The work she was putting into her training convinced her to try to raise money for 20 Liters at the same time in the form of marathon pledges. She successfully completed her first marathon and raised some money for 20 Liters, but she was also struck by a feeling she wasn’t expecting.
“Raising the money for my marathon just wasn’t for me,” she said. “I’m uncomfortable going out and asking people straight up for money.” As she continued to train for and compete in marathons, she decided after that first year that she wasn’t going to use them as a way to earn money for 20 Liters.
“I thought long and hard about it and thought there’s got to be a way to raise money that doesn’t involve just asking for it.” And that’s when inspiration struck. “I love to cook!” Just like that, a new idea was born.
Amy decided to use her love of cooking and baking and turn them into a money-making opportunity for 20 Liters. Through her contacts with friends, family, and neighbors, and using the power of social media, she put out the word: Amy was starting a bake sale, with all the proceeds going to 20 Liters.
Amy’s bake sale started out small, but in just a few years has exploded into a major event. During the already busy time of year between Thanksgiving and Christmas, Amy takes in orders for baked goods; almost any kind of baked goods! Cookies, cakes, candy…anything that is baked, Amy would take orders for it. If she got a request for something she’d never made before, she would learn how to do it! “I learned how to make seafoam one year for a customer. And now I know how to make seafoam!” she proudly told me. Another item she had no idea how to make was baklava…until somebody ordered it. Now she can make that, too. Her latest brand-new creation came last year, when she learned about, then learned to make, pizzelles, which are traditional Italian waffle cookies covered with intricate patterns.
With her annual bake sale, Amy’s passion for helping others is on full display. Along the way, Amy has discovered that all of the hard work of baking, packing, shipping and hand-delivering baked goods, all during the holidays, is not only raising money for 20 Liters, but it’s also bringing her closer to her children and husband who work closely with her in the endeavor.
“I feel like it’s a higher calling,” Amy says. “It’s hard work, but it’s important work, and it helps others who need it so much.”
Amy’s annual bake sales raise thousands of dollars each year, bringing in over $5,000 in 2016. The entire operation, from planning to execution, rivals that of a small business. But still, Amy wanted to do more.
This year, Amy decided to tackle another project in order to help 20 Liters. She was thinking about the importance of clean water, our easy access to it, and the fact that others around the world aren’t so lucky. She decided to create a personal water project for herself for Lent. She is fasting from all beverages other than water, and any time she would normally buy a drink other than water, she donates what she would have spent to 20 Liters. As you can imagine, this is adding up fast. So far, Amy has saved/donated enough money to provide clean water for 8 people in Rwanda for more than 10 years!
Through her highly successful annual bake sales and her newly-created Lent water challenge, Amy Townley is a shining example of the impact a person can make in the lives of others.
“Everybody has a gift,” Amy says. “Everybody has something that they can do, and like to do. It’s a matter of taking that gift and using it to help others.”
What’s YOUR gift? There are many ways to help us make dirty water clean for those who so desperately need it. Hold a social fundraiser doing something you love to do. It doesn’t have to be anything big; every little bit adds up to something big. You can participate in a Walk for Water or plan one of your own in your community. Hold a bake sale or yard sale for 20 Liters. Find out more about upcoming Walk for Water events planned near you or get more ideas of ways you could plan your own event by visiting us at 20liters.org/get-involved.