Community is one of Blood:Water’s core missional values. In many ways, this refers to the community we are privileged to help bolster and uplift through our support of African partners. But before we were able to even begin the enormous task of empowering other communities, we had to build our own community – a community of invested, dedicated, and passionate supporters. This support has come from all areas of the United States, as well as internationally over the years.
THE HOLLAND, WEST MICHIGAN GROUP
We wish we could name each and every person who makes up this beautiful, diverse community of supporters, but today we want to recognize and honor a specific group that has offered a space of encouragement for Blood:Water and its founders from the very beginning: the West Michigan group in Holland, MI.
“To Jars of Clay, Holland, MI has long felt like a second home. With each concert played [there], our community of friends grew and deepened. Meeting Steve Garber at Hope College was key to the development and formation of Blood:Water.
Over the years, the support for Blood:Water from our friends in Holland was huge. From the initial sharing of our vision to the first house concert fundraisers, Holland was fertile ground to plant the seed of a new way to serve people in Africa.
Our support network was significant, and the idea of coming together as a community was very organic. “What if the Blood:Water supporters could know each other and work toward a common goal?” It was a vision that didn’t take long to catch on.
With Jane Clark at the helm, the group began to grow and events started happening. A leadership team developed, and Blood:Water staff offered logistical support. One event turned into two, and multiplied exponentially from there with the goal of welcoming offerings and creativity from anyone who wanted to jump in, giving way to an accumulation of funds and support that I could never have dreamed possible.”
– Dan Haseltine, Jars of Clay & Blood:Water
MAKING CHANGE IN BIG WAYS
For years, Blood:Water has been honored to have a consistent relationship and partnership with the generous donors and organizers in Holland, but they took on a particularly ambitious project in late 2018. Starting in October, the West Michigan group pledged to raise $150,000 by the end of 2020 for one specific Blood:Water partner: COPRED in Malawi. Although they had the network and the determination to pull this off, it still took a considerable amount of creativity, perseverance, and intentionality from many wonderful people in the Holland community.
To reach more people, group members chose to facilitate a variety of events over the course of the next year. Here are a few highlights from the events they hosted:
The campaign kicked off with a House Concert featuring Jars of Clay, a podcast interview, and Hope College class led by Blood:Water co-founder, Dan Haseltine. A total of $42,867 was raised for COPRED in 2018!
The group welcomed the new year by facilitating a month-long reading challenge featuring Lulu & the Long Walk, a children’s book co-written by Dan Haseltine!
Summer was in full swing so it was the perfect time to get kids involved in fundraising by running their own Lemon:Aid Stands!
September & October 2019
Gearing up for colder weather and the holiday season, the group hosted two events at a local brewery, The Brew Merchant, with Jars of Clay and Christopher Williams!
Appealing to the art connoisseurs in the area, they put on the Joel Schoon-Tanis Art Show!
By the end of the year, they had raised $89,448 for COPRED!
Even in the midst of the global pandemic, this passionate and committed group still found creative ways to raise awareness and funds. In the fall, the Klok family graciously hosted a yard sale, bake sale, and book sale at their home. You can see our blog from around this time on how the community pivoted their annual Tulip Talk festival and how some very compassionate kids got together to color pictures of improvement for our partners.
The group ended the unprecedented year with COVID-friendly online FB and year-end email campaigns with a generous donor agreeing to match funds! They reached, no… they EXCEEDED their goal with a total of $165,167 raised!
THE REAL IMPACT
West Michigan’s Blood:Water COPRED Project raised $165,167 from October 2018 to December 2020. With these resources, our partner, COPRED, achieved the following:
2,968 People reached with access to clean water
20,433 People reached with hygiene training
8,543 Hygiene facilities constructed (incl. hand-washing stations, bathing facilities, drying racks, & garbage pits
4,006 People reached with access to improved sanitation facilities (such as functional toilets)
COPRED was able to install a borehole well in Chikalema, a village in the Neno district of Malawi. You can read more about the individual lives changed in our blogs for World Toilet Day 2020 and how our partners measure the success of water projects!
Along with water, proper hygiene practices are an essential part of a holistic approach to improving community health. One of COPRED’s beneficiaries, Mercy, was provided with a hand-washing station, soap, and sanitizer. She was ecstatic and grateful for the positive impact she knew it would have on her family:
“I had no bucket or soap to use for hand washing at my house as per the hygiene recommendations for COVID prevention. …COPRED has honored me with this gift to practice hygiene in my home on a daily basis for the protection of myself and my grandchildren who live with me. Thank you!”
All of the West Michigan group’s commitment and resourcefulness paid off. Even with having to pivot and readjust their plans after the start of the pandemic, they were still able to raise a significant amount of money that reached thousands of Malawians through COPRED’s programs.
The power of working together to create change for others through fundraising is tremendous. It is the ultimate example of one community equipping another community (from opposite sides of the globe!), and that has been Blood:Water’s heart and model from day one.
So to everyone who is a part of the West Michigan group:
“On behalf of both Blood:Water and COPRED, thank you, thank you, thank you!” – Jake Smith, Executive Director & the Blood:Water team