People across the country come together throughout the year to Walk for Water. They re-enact the daily reality for millions by walking miles to fetch a bucket of water. Their fundraising efforts help to transform lives around the world. Dr. Linda Karges-Bone is one of the biggest supporters of the Charleston Walk for Water. In honor of her efforts, we asked her to share with you why she Walks.
Turning 50 was a “watershed” experience for me. Forgive the obvious pun Water Missions friends, but it was. I know they say that 50 is the “new 30,” and I certainly posted that pithy phrase on my Facebook page, but I still felt a certain pull at my own mortality. It was a good kind of pang, not depression, but rather an exhilaration. Gary and I (married 33 years) have raised two healthy daughters, now busy professionals. I have written 29 books and achieved tenure at the university. Some of you may hear my “Prayerful Parenting” messages on Christian radio. Clearly, life both personally and professionally has been fruitful.
Yet, four years ago, upon turning 50, I felt the Lord’s leading to use my talents for talking, writing, and encouraging, for that is truly what a professor and consultant does, for His glory and to create something of substance. I had always been involved in charity and service, especially to projects that involve women and children, but this involvement, though consistent, was not focused. I knew one thing clearly: I was to find my “signature charity”. I looked around and, the more I looked, the more signs were given that Water Missions International was to be Dr. Linda Karges-Bone’s “signature charity”.
What signs? Some were literal. I kept seeing posters, mailings, Facebook postings for Water Missions International. It was like they were everywhere. Who knows? I am just telling you that I saw signs.
Then, there was “The Walk”. I walk every day with my rescue dog Ellie. I love to walk, finding it invigorating and reflective. For me, the annual “Walk for Water” speaks of taking action as a community of believers. It makes a public statement. And it offered an opportunity to involve my students at Charleston Southern University. We could all walk together. It made sense.
So, four years ago, I decided to make a gift to the “Walk” in order to start my team off right. I would make it a good gift, bringing to life my decision to start my 50’s with a strong statement about what I valued…..life, hope, and compassion.
I realized, as my husband and I talked, that his company, General Electric, offered a “matching gift” feature through its Foundation. Our gift could double with a few strokes of the keyboard. Again, another sign for me. Water Missions was one of the featured charities that qualified for this matching gift.
It was on. With our gift and the GE match, the number made me happy and when I am happy, I talk. So, I talked to my friends, students, family members, and social network community. I took the number that our gift with the match totaled and decided to double it as a goal. I was affirmed, as I spoke to groups and individuals about the goal and the work of Water Missions that that 1) people want something to believe in and 2) water is something so fundamental, so symbolic of hope, that everyone wants to be involved. I simply talked about the numbers and the need: 1 billion people without clean drinking water; over one third of the world’s population lacking sanitation; and thousands of deaths each day attributed to water borne illnesses.
And, as a teacher of teachers and an advocate for women and children, I shared the back story of the global water crisis with this logic model:
For my future teachers, most of them girls and my friends in the teaching and non-profit sectors, again many women, and their husbands, fathers, and friends, this became a critical rallying cry. Water helps women and women change family dynamics. Interestingly, a number of my friends who are not Christians have written generous checks or pressed $100 into my hand for the “Walk”. Other Christian organizations have “turned them off” over the years said one, but “This is different.” Clearly, the Spirit speaks when we cannot.
So, for three years in a row, I have been the most successful individual fundraiser for the Walk for Water. Over four years, I have helped to raise over $20,000 as best I can tell. It is not a million, but that is my goal. I want to help to raise a million dollars for Water Missions International, if not personally, then through social media, writing projects, grants, and public speaking.
In addition to fund-raising, I have become involved with Water Mission’s Educational arm, helping to train teachers to infuse curriculum about the global water crisis into their schools. My own students enrolled in the Children’s Literature course that I teach now share children’s books and accompanying lessons about poverty, water crisis, and social justice as part of their clinical teaching in high poverty schools. In a fascinating twist, one of these schools, Malcolm Hursey Elementary, with a high population of families living in poverty, became engaged with the work and raised over $1000. Children helping children. The poor reaching out to the destitute. Only God can speak to hearts that way.
You to can form your own fundraising team like Dr. Karges-Bone! Register for the 2014 Charleston Walk for Water by clicking here. We look forward to seeing you at Cannon Park on March 22nd!