Greenville Laker Key Club funding well water in Africa

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GREENVILLE — The Greenville Laker Key Club has been a vibrant and active member of the Moosehead community for over 50 years and this past August they were recognized at the Thirst Project International Convention in Chicago for funding well water in Swaziland, Africa.

According to the Key Club website, the first club was formed in 1925 in Sacramento, California by two Kiwanians. The gentlemen decided it would resemble the Kiwanis Club in structure, but have its own classifications based on high school interests and, under the guidance of a high school teacher acting as advisor, they would hold regular meetings.

The 1925 club was comprised of the “key” boys in the school, who were willing to serve the school in any way possible and create a better school spirit. Thus, the club was dubbed Key Club. Soon this became a complete service organization for the whole school and now it is the oldest and largest service program for high school students in the world. Greenville’s Key Club, first organized in 1964, has made significant contributions to the community and society at large ever since.

Greenville Key Club Thirst Project

Contributed photo
GREENVILLE KEY CLUB — The Greenville Laker Key Club, from left, Camden Harmon, Grade 11; Delanie Boone, Grade 12; Sam Lane, Grade 11; advisor Isaac Crabtree; Chris Caiazzo, Grade 11; Matt Snyder, Grade 10; Darcy from the Thirst Project; Nick Caiazzo, Grade 12; Emily Vraux, Grade 12; Noah Bilodeau, Grade 11; and Robert from the Thirst Project.

Isaac Crabtree, advisor, brought this writer up to date on the latest happenings for the Laker Key Club. At Halloween, club members dressed up and trick-or-treated with UNICEF boxes to collect change for the Thirst Project, according to Crabtree, “The Thirst Project was founded 10 years ago by a group of college kids out in California,” he said. “They learned about the water crisis in Africa and were determined to do something about it. They raised $14,000 and went to Africa and built a well. And, they’ve been doing that ever since.”

The Thirst Project has narrowed its mission focus since that first well was dug, and is now concentrating on Swaziland, a small country with the highest AIDS rate in Africa. “This is a doable project — ending the water crisis in Swaziland”, Crabtree remarked. “It’s a small enough country and if these people have access to clean water they can take their medications, keep themselves clean, and kids who ordinarily spend hours fetching water can use that time to go to school.”

“Two years ago I took a small group of kids to Dover (Foxcroft Academy) to see a presentation on the Thirst Project,” Crabtree said. “We found out that a well costs $12,000 and initially we couldn’t really take that amount on – so we helped the Dover group achieve that. This past year was different. Thanks to the amazing generosity of the Greenville community we were able to raise the money for a well all by ourselves.”

When asked what his role was as advisor, Crabtree laughed. “I pretty much just yell at the kids – ‘hey, don’t forget to do this or go there’ and so forth. They run the meetings themselves while I facilitate with reminders. The Key Club is all about learning leadership through community services of all kinds. Anytime you need a lot of hands we can be there for you.”

Teacher Ben Beverly concurred. “Here’s one example — my family was in a bind about moving and we had to do it quickly. Five strong young men from the Laker Key Club were really helpful! We had to move all kinds of furniture out before we could move ours in and we couldn’t have done it without them.”

In the next few weeks, members of the Laker Key Club will be heading to Boston. They will visit the Kiwanis Pediatric Trauma Institute (KPTI), which is housed at Tufts Medical Center. “We go down every year for their Open House,” Crabtree explained. “There’s a different lecture every year; we’ve had speakers from the Boston bombings and we’ve had speakers talk about traumatic brain injuries. There are all sorts of different subjects. Then we get a tour of the hospital and after that, since we’re in Bean Town, we eat and shop – the kids pick a place – Faneuil Hall is a very popular stop for the kids. They can get some early Christmas shopping taken care of,” he chuckled.

Greenville School is front and center in the Thirst Project’s presentations. “Our club and our school are featured in this presentation,” Crabtree said. “Because when you think about it, we’re a teeny tiny school in rural Maine and last year we put all our fundraising efforts into this well project ultimately coming up with enough to provide a well. The efforts of our students and the generosity of the town made all this possible.”

If you need help from Laker Key Club members, contact Crabtree via email at, or call the school at 695-2666.

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