Why I Volunteer: Health and Clean Water
Rick Lee is a member of First Presbyterian Church in Madisonville, KY. Rick is a Clean Water U graduate in Water System Installation Standard (103) and Reverse Osmosis (103 ROS). He is currently a Clean Water U 103 ROS instructor and serves on the Yucatan Network Coordinating Team.
Rick with an RO machine to use at Camp Hopewell for Clean Water U
Q: How did you first get involved with Living Waters for the World?
I began twisting the arms of several of the members of our congregation to join me in the ministry of Living Waters for the World (LWW) back in 2013. My wife, Susanna, and I attend the First Presbyterian Church (FPC) in Madisonville, KY. In 2013 and 2014, we ran a shuttle service to Camp Hopewell for training. Once we had enough of our team trained, we began praying to find a partner. At one of our mission team meetings, we invited Jerry and Kathy Vaughan and Ralph and Stephanie Young to come and offer some guidance as to where we should go. They convinced us that we should partner with a Presbyterian church in the small village of Xoy, Yucatan, Mexico. In late 2014, four of our team members headed to Xoy for a development visit. When we arrived, we found nearly all of their congregation sitting outside their church building waiting for us. We also found that they had already begun a building on their church property that they hoped would someday house a water plant, and they probably would have gotten it under roof if they hadn’t run out of money for cement. From that point on, I was hooked. If the faith of this small congregation was great enough to begin a building that might never house a water plant, then my faith should allow me to trust that God will provide the resources for us to be their partners. The Xoy plant was installed in 2015 and is still going strong.
Q: Why have you stayed involved? My undergraduate degree is in Mechanical Engineering which I practiced for 13 years before I felt a tug to go into Medicine. My training is in Family Medicine, but my love is Public Health. I have been semi-retired from my medical practice for over 5 years, but I continue to serve as the Medical Director for our Hopkins County Health Department. It is this love for Public Health and my first-hand knowledge of how LWW can affect the health of folks in villages like Xoy, and even much larger cities, that keep me involved with LWW. When we visited with the provider in the state-run health department for Xoy during installation, we learned that missed school days due to diarrhea from enteric diseases were common. When we returned a year later, we learned that the same diseases had essentially been eliminated.
Installation team at the water building in Xoy, Yucatan, Mexico
Q: In what roles do you volunteer and why did you choose to take on these responsibilities? Our team from Madisonville FPC has now partnered with three churches in the Yucatan Peninsula for installation of reverse osmosis and softening plants. We have also partnered with one congregation for rehabilitation of their existing plant. Our team is “chomping at the bit” to get back to the Yucatan to check on our partners and to covenant with a new one. I am currently one of the 103-ROS instructors at Clean Water U and serve on the Yucatan Network Coordinating Team. Through LWW, God continues to show me why I needed training in both engineering and medicine/public health.
Q: When you’re not volunteering for LWW, where are we likely to find you and what would we find you doing? Susanna and I have three grown children and eight wonderful grandchildren (aren’t they all?). I spend my spare time tinkering in my shop, restoring an old house and a couple of old cars, and doing projects for kids, grandkids, and the church. We also spend a lot of time at grandkid soccer games, and after about 10 years now I think I know most of the rules.