Why I Volunteer: To have a long-lasting impact
Tamara Hayden is a member of the Living Waters for the World (LWW) water team at First Presbyterian Church (FPC) in Ambler, PA. The church's water team has installed three systems in Haiti and is proud of their work and partnership with communities in Haiti.
Tamara Hayden gets a double escort to the latrine by two wonderful little boys near Titanyen, north of Port au Prince
Q: How did you first get involved with LWW?
My church, the First Presbyterian Church of Ambler, PA, had been sending mission teams to Haiti for two years when one of our members, Scott French, became aware of the critical need for clean water, and the work that LWW was doing toward that effort in Haiti. As a team, we decided to send three people to train at Clean Water U (CWU).
Q: Why have you stayed involved?
Working with a community in partnership to provide clean water is a long lasting, sustainable effort that has a direct impact on health and hygiene, especially for children. I admire the LWW model and after nearly 3 installations, FPC Ambler is proud of the work we have done in partnership with the organization, and with our communities in Haiti.
Q: In what roles do you volunteer and why did you choose to take on these responsibilities?
I first trained as a 101 (project manager), and then a few years later as a 102 (health educator), given the needs of our team at the time. I enjoy both functions but am grateful that our team has grown enough to include others who are trained as well. I am very fortunate in that our pastor, Ryan Balsan, has been an excellent resource when I talk with community leadership about the covenant and other LWW documentation. Sometimes he has just the right answer at just the right time!
Q: How has your involvement with LWW impacted your life?
That’s a huge question to answer. The simple response is “immeasurably”. From teaching me how to lead, align, and motivate a team, negotiate with community leadership on what we will do and what they can do, to helping me understand how to “help without hurting” when working with under-served populations, the involvement with LWW and the work FPC Ambler has done in Haiti has had a huge impact. Whenever I land back on U.S. soil, I am always amazed at everything we are blessed with in this country, and the corresponding responsibility we bear to help others in need. LWW has enabled me to give back, through a strong, sustainable model of clean water, and excellent training and guidance along the way. Their model has also allowed me to get to know an amazing and talented group of people from our church who bring their very best to every installation.
The LWW water team from Ambler, Pa., is with water committee members from Eglise de Dieu de la Prophetie, outside their just-built water building. (Tamara is front row, far right)
Q: What's an experience or story from your time with LWW that stands out as one of the most meaningful? When we did our first installation, it was the longest we had stayed with the community. Being with them over that time, I noticed that there was not just poverty, but levels of poverty. You could say that the entire community was impoverished, yes, but when I saw a boy wearing only a heavily soiled Philadelphia Eagles training jersey, I saw a deeper level, and felt that what we were doing would make a difference for that child, and every child, in that community. It was a difficult moment, and it would have been easy to feel despair without a good strong team surrounding me. Proverbs 3:5-6: “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” Q: When you're not volunteering for LWW where are we likely to find you and what would we find you doing? My day job is doing digital marketing and analytics for a pharmaceutical firm. In my off hours, I am working on a master’s degree in Organizational Development and Change Management through Pennsylvania State University. My husband, Jamie, works at a cancer institute in Philadelphia, and we enjoy hiking, biking, and bird-watching. My son works in digital advertising for the Washington Post, and my daughter is a Ph.D. candidate at Penn State, working on water quality. We are many miles apart, but love getting together as much as we can.