A national program to bring clean water to the developing world has finally reached California — and La Cañada Flintridge is its first outpost in the state. The Wash Away Thirst campaign, started by Georgia-based carwash owner Jim Dudley, has now enlisted more than 100 carwashes across the country to fund clean water projects across the globe, and La Cañada’s Foothill Car Wash is, so far, the only California carwash to participate.
Lauren Locher, a spokesperson for Wash Away Thirst, said that after Dudley had returned to the states from a church mission trip to Guatemala, he asked himself the question, “If I died and the only thing I had done for myself was owned a car wash would I be happy with my life, is that what I want to be known for?”
“So he had this idea where he was going to start it at his own carwash, saying that for every carwash someone gets done at the Wash Me Fast carwashes a day of clean water will be provided to Guatemala,” said Locher.
Individual car-washing businesses can choose what percentage of proceeds they choose to donate, but the standard is one wash provides one day’s worth of clean water for one person.
Steve Berkman, owner of Foothill Car Wash, said that he was excited to bring the program to California when he started participating two months ago.
“I read about Wash Away Thirst in one of the professional car washing magazines and I thought it was a great idea, and the only problem is it was all on the East Coast, there was nobody on the West Coast doing it,” said Berkman. “So I called them up and asked if I could get involved.”
Berkman said the idea behind Wash Away Thirst gelled with his overall approach to his business.
“It was a very neat thing to get involved, because we’ve always been very green, and one of things we do is we reclaim our water,” said Berkman. “I thought it was neat tie-in to be able to donate clean drinking water.”
Berkman said Foothill Car Wash will be continuing its donations indefinitely, and that donations from Foothill Car Wash have already provided 10,000 days of clean water.
The donations, through Rotary International’s Water and Sanitation Rotarian Action Group, are directed to projects in India, Kenya and Guatemala. Each project varies, said Lochler, but generally the funds go to building wells, pumps and purification systems.
The importance of clean water was something that should not be overlooked, said Ellsworth Havens, Wasrag Development chair in a statement.
“Nearly 1 billion people lack access to clean drinking water and every day, 5,000 children under the age of five will die as a result,” stated Havens. “One of our organization’s greatest assets is the ability to raise funds that…will ultimately save lives.”