Why I Volunteer: To Improve Health and Change Lives
Patrick Jenkins is a member of Bethlehem Lutheran Church in Hickory, NC. He attended Clean Water U training in April 2010 and has been serving on his church's water team since then. Patrick talks with us below about his why - why he chose Living Waters for the World and why he continues to serve.
Patrick Jenkins (second from the right) with several partners who worked together to install the water purification system in Guasistagua, Honduras
Q: How did you first get involved with Living Waters for the World (LWW)?
A: In the fall of 2009, my boss at the time, Jim Bramlett, said he would like to come and talk to my church, Bethlehem Lutheran Church, about Living Waters for the World. After Jim made a short presentation to the Church Council, I thought to myself, this is a great idea, but this church will never go for it! Imagine my surprise when the Council members looked around the table and said, “When do we get started?” “What is the next step? “Where do we go from here?”
Shortly after, I attended Clean Water U and befriended Dave Parks (who was my 103 course instructor). With Dave’s guidance and support, my church and I were able to start our clean water mission. I am forever grateful for Dave and the time and energy he has spent mentoring me.
Q: Why have you stayed involved?
A: My why statement was revealed through our first LWW partnership. On our initial site visit to El Tigre, Honduras, we were told that the health clinic was seeing between 30-40 children per month for water-related illness. One year later, after the water system had been installed, that same health clinic was seeing 3-5 children per month due to water-related illness. It amazes me that we can spend a couple thousand dollars on a water purification system and change the lives and improve the health of hundreds of children and adults.
Guasistagua community members and Bethlehem Lutheran Church water team volunteers celebrate the installation of their water purification system
Q: How has your involvement with LWW impacted your life? A: Every time I come back from Honduras, I realize how much I take for granted every day of my life. LWW has introduced me to people that I never thought I would meet - people that I now consider dear friends. I have grown up in my church, and we had never done any type of mission work like LWW until seven years ago. Bethlehem Lutheran has now partnered with four communities to install an LWW system. We look forward to working with a fifth community on an installation in the next couple of years. Q: What’s an experience or story from your time with LWW that stands out as one of the most affecting? A: August 5-11, 2018 we were in Guasistagua, Honduras. I met a gentleman in the community that was 94 years old. He said their community had always had issues with water-related illnesses, and he never thought he would see the day that his community had clean, safe water to drink. He was so excited and appreciative for their LWW water system. This most recent trip was also the first trip for my 16 year old daughter Caroline. I am so thankful she was able to experience a LWW mission trip, and I am thankful that I was able to share it with her. What a wonderful experience this was for both of us.
A child takes a drink of water at the system celebration in Guasistagua, Honduras
Q: In what roles do you volunteer and why did you choose to take on these responsibilities? A: I love working with my hands, building things, or putting something together. I was immediately drawn to working with the system installation. I am passionate about putting a system together that is not only functional, but aesthetically pleasing. I want the community to be proud of their water system. Four years ago I began the process of becoming a 103 Clean Water U Instructor. It is truly an honor and privilege to come back and teach at Clean Water U. I love to see the moment that it all comes together for the students, and they understand the how and why of the system. Q: When you’re not volunteering for LWW, where are we likely to find you and what would we find you doing? A: I have been blessed with a beautiful wife and three amazing daughters. I can be found at the high school watching my oldest daughter cheer, or the middle school watching my middle daughter play volleyball or basketball. All three of my daughters dance competitively, so you may find me on stage dancing with them! My wife and I enjoy traveling, and spending time with our girls. I also enjoy hunting and fishing.