By Paula Osborn for The Island Connection
On April 24, Shirley Salvo, founder of the Sea Island Hunger Awareness Foundation, and Bill Britton, Coordinator of the Water Wellness Project, were invited to address the WITS at the Meeting House in I’On. The WITS (Women Inspired Through Stories) was formed to provide philanthropic aid to different organizations “that empower and support women and children through self-sufficiency and education” in the Charleston area. Over 40 members were in attendance to hear a presentation on the Water Wellness Project that addresses the water needs of residents on Wadmalaw.
Shirley Salvo spoke to the group about the history of the SIHAF and about her discovery that the residents of these Sea Islands need not only food but clean running water to prepare it. She expressed her appreciation to the WITS for designating the Foundation’s Water Wellness Project as the recipient of their gifts this year.
Then Salvo invited Bill Britton to share his firsthand stories about the families the Water Wellness Project has helped.
He noted that the majority of households served on Wadmalaw are headed by mothers and grandmothers. Since many wells were overwhelmed by the Thousand Year Flood of 2015 and Hurricane Matthew, residents were spending a disproportionate amount of their income to buy bottled water for drinking and cooking. Fortunately, Britton’s team was able to identify local families in need by reaching out to community contacts.
Each family’s situation was assessed, and then a team with a contractor, a plumber, and an electrician was able to work on providing wells and water filtration systems to families in need.
Recently, a local volunteer team of environmental engineers has been testing those wells where the water was unsafe for drinking or cooking. The WWP has installed seven wells so far at a cost of $6500 each, and they will be providing additional families with new water filtration systems that will insure they have clean, safe water for the first time in years.
At the end of their presentation, Salvo and Britton answered questions from members of WITS. This warm and generous group of women worked tirelessly to pull this event together and raised an amazing total for one evening– $8900 and counting. Their program was a wonderful success for the real winners— those in need on Wadmalaw.
To donate to the Water Wellness Project, please go to the website of the Sea Island Hunger Awareness Foundation: fightislandhunger.com.