Passion for others motivates Dexter Key Club well-drilling project

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DEXTER — Lilah McCormack, a sophomore at Dexter Regional High School, is an eager member of that school’s Key Club and chairs its “Thirst Project” which aims to provide clean water via a deep well to an impoverished area of Swaziland in Africa. Aino Rudloff-Eastman, a DRHS senior and Key Club veteran, recently helped McCormack present the well-drilling project to an attentive audience at Dexter Dover Area Towns in Transition’s monthly public discussion meeting at the Abbott Memorial Library.

The Thirst Project’s mission is to install a long-term source of high quality drinking water for a small village in an area of the globe where potable water is in short supply. Daily fetching five-gallon Jerry cans of water from distant and frequently polluted sources forces village people, mostly women and children, to not only spend many hours but often affects their health as well. Hefting 40-some pounds of water in an awkward plastic jug up onto one’s head is enough of a challenge for muscles and coordination, not to mention the damage to one’s spine from carrying that load for miles and miles. Add in the likelihood of disease lurking in that questionable water, and it’s obvious that a clean, local, and plentiful source would be a godsend to such an afflicted village. Once the club members learned of the situation and the solution, their empathy drove them to action.

Dexter Regional High School Dexter Dover Area Towns in Transition Abbott Memorial LIbrary

Photo courtesy of Sam Brown
BRINGING CLEAN WATER TO THE WORLD — Dexter Regional High School senior Aino Rudloff-Eastman, left, sophomore Lilah McCormack, and Adviser Rick Whitney present to the Nov. 2 Dexter Dover Area Towns in Transition First Friday public discussion at the Abbott Memorial Library in Dexter. The three spoke on the “Thirst Project” which aims to provide clean water via a deep well to an impoverished area of Swaziland in southern Africa.

Quietly supporting the students, Rick Whitney, Dexter’s long-time Key Club adviser and champion, briefly explained the history of the club and its activities, and how this particular undertaking has been different from the scores of previous projects over the years. Last year, when the club decided to take on the challenge of raising $12,000 from one of the lowest per-capita income areas in the state, he had his doubts, but the enthusiasm and passion with which the Club members have pursued their goal, and the successes they have enjoyed, has changed that doubt to confidence. “Once in a while, a big project will push you to a higher level,” he remarked. “You just need a good nucleus of leaders, let’em take the ball, and it’ll go.”

McCormack and Rudloff-Eastman both expressed pleasure and gratitude for Whitney’s guiding hand on this and other club projects, and hope to have the fundraising completed by June, when he’s due to retire from 20 years of service. The students, in answer to a question from the audience, responded that the club has helped each personally develop confidence in leadership and public speaking, as well as absorbing an immense amount of geology, hydrology, philanthropy, and global politics. They are much more aware of the bounty of living in a place such as Maine, where clean water is almost recklessly abundant, but not to be taken for granted anymore.

The club is deep into the fundraising process, aiming to find many small donations instead of shooting for a few large ones. All donations are fully tax-deductible. Anyone interested in helping should contact the Club via DRHS, 12 Abbott Hill Road, Dexter, 04930.

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