Why I Volunteer: Clean Water and Relationships
Bob McCoy is a member of the Holy Spirit Haiti Mission water team in Huntsville, Alabama. His team has installed multiple systems in Haiti. Bob also serves as the Network Moderator for the LWW Haiti Network.
The Haiti Network Team with Bob McCoy, the Haiti Network Moderator (left to right): Ancy - In-Country Coordinator, Sonie - Warehouse, Reginald - In-Country Technician (ICT), Bertone - ICT, Dr. Yanne - Educator, Lucson - ICT, Bob, Watelin - ICT, and Francois - ICT.
Q: How did you first get involved with Living Waters for the World (LWW)?
In Spring 2005 Mitzi Bradford, a Presbyterian who had gone on a couple of our mission trips as a nurse, learned Wil Howie and Steve Young were doing a road show in Birmingham, AL at Highland Presbyterian Church. So Mitzi, Lee, and Kathy and I attended. It was a great pre CWU day and an answer to solving the 15% of the patients coming to the PAV clinic with stomach/diarrhea problems. It has been a match made in heaven for me in so many ways. Q: Why have you stayed involved?
Two reasons. 1) LWW had a product that we needed and was not only fun to build, but not terribly complex to maintain. Our earlier install is still going since 2006. 2) The people in LWW beginning with Wil and everyone else have been such genuinely interesting people that I wanted to be part of the operation in some way. This is what St. Francis meant when he said “Preach the gospel always and when necessary use words.” While the Holy Spirit Haiti Mission (HSHM) team members are the token Catholics of LWW (Wil’s words), I have felt love between our two faiths that this relationship at several levels is clearly part of God’s plan. Q: In what roles do you volunteer and why did you choose to take on these responsibilities?
Until 2007, I was just a LWW initiating partner (IP). In September 2007, Wil invited me to a LWW meeting and asked Chris McRae and myself to lead the new Haiti Network. Part of this dual leadership request was because both of us were responsible for or very involved with installing many of the systems in Haiti, but there was a fairly distinct line between Protestant and Catholic systems. It wasn’t antagonistic, we just saw our mission a little differently. In addition, HSHM was involved in a number of other activities beside water purification. Chris and I went into Haiti 10 days after the earthquake to assess the water systems and see what was needed on different levels. It was an interesting trip with the ground still shaking, the airport closed and neither of us knew how we would get home. Over the next years I eventually took over as moderator of the network and then turned it over Bill Mendenhall. I also managed the finances for the network which included setting up numerous bank accounts and ways to get money into Haiti. The past four years I have once again taken over the moderator job, but today it is much more like running a business with 8 employees and one of the greatest teams one could ever ask for. My assessment is LWW is definitely a faith based driven operation. You won’t see it necessarily in their balance sheet, but you will see it in everyone you deal with.
Q: How has your involvement with LWW impacted your life?
LWW is one of the greatest gifts God has given me. It is a unique organization that permeates through all its volunteers and staff and onto the end customer, the Operating Partner. At the core of LWW are relationships and all stems from this philosophy. My challenge today as the Haiti Moderator is how do we maintain these critical relationships with the U.S. IPs who can not travel to their OPs. While the telecon technology is great, it is not what I call relationship building from one human to another.
Q: What’s an experience or story from your time with LWW that stands out as one of the more meaningful?
There are many. The look on Wil’s face when I met him in Nashville in a Porsche Targa. Or the spiritual sessions at CWU listening to Carie sing. But my aha moment that bonded me to LWW forever was in 2006 when we installed the first standard ozone system at the PAV Clinic belonging to the Petit Freres St. Therese. A week after we installed it and the brothers had 7 days drinking the water, all of their diarrhea and stomach conditions went away. Fre Olizard who was yet to become the superior had particular problems and praised the gift God had sent. A week later I got requests from 4 PFST monasteries to install systems, one of which was the mother house in Rivere Froide above Carrefour. Two months later when we got our monthly report from the clinic all of the patient intestinal problems had gone away for those that drank the water.
Q: When you’re not volunteering for LWW, where are we likely to find you and what would we find you doing?
I divide my time between LWW, St. Vincent de Paul, Holy Spirit Haiti Mission, mass, and several other activities at church, being president of STG-our family business automation operation, my family, and on occasion in my workshop where I do woodworking, welding, plumbing, and auto mechanic stuff. Two years ago we built the home we live in now. My wife, Kathy of 53 years, and I like to travel to see our remote families in Boston and Seattle when we can.