The Teamsters Union Local 315 in Northern California recently donated $1,200 to Kathy Grogan's GoFundMe project for water in Uganda. Kathy is Tuthill Pump Group's Regional Sales Manager based in California. Kathy presented the Teamsters with a WOW Award to commend their donation.
In 2015, Kathy began the Uganda-based project with her sister Patty Pullen who is the Director of Good Samaritan Ministries Int'l Uganda Support Team. The organization is a Christian Mission that helps the homeless, impoverished, orphans and others across the world. This project aimed to help a school of 1,600 Ugandan students receive running water, 300 of which are orphans that live in dorms at the school. Orphans receive two meals per day of beans and cornmeal mush and collected their water by hand from a nearby well.
Kathy worked with Folsom Associates, a Tuthill distributor based in Salt Lake City, to select a water pump that they could use for this project. Folsom provided four submersible pumps at cost for the school. Ralph Varner and his team were integral to making this project possible. In April 2017, Kathy and Danny Sanders visited Folsom for a distributor sales call, but surprised Ralph with a WOW Award for his efforts.
The pumps arrived in Uganda in January of 2017. Since then, a water collection system has been put in place and water is pumped to a storage tank, eliminating the need for the students to climb ladders for water. The storage tank will pump water to a new girls bathroom at the dorm for bathing and laundry. They are in the process of getting water to the new boys bathroom. Future plans include pumping water to a five-acre garden where they are growing their own corn and beans for school meals.
Kathy presented the outcome of the project at the Teamsters' steward meeting, and gave Don Garcia, the secretary treasurer, a WOW Award for the donation.
"We get several requests for donations and you never really know if your donation is truly going where they say. We knew from Kathy's story that this donation would have a direct impact on families lives and it was the right thing to do," Don Garcia said. "We don't realize how much we take for granted like turning on the water in the sink or shower or putting a load of clothes in the washing machine."
Kathy recalled Don addressing the Teamster's stewards meeting about the donation. "I want you all to know we donate money to politicians for fundraisers and dinners... This $1,200 is the best money we've ever spent," she recalled Garcia's words.
Don as well was very appreciative of Kathy's work. "It's rare to find people with such a big heart. Though I know Kathy doesn't like the attention or accolades, she more than deserves it," Don said.
Kathy reasserted that none of this good work could be done without a strong network of people. "The support of the people around me who helped make it possible is just amazing. I couldn't have done it without everyone behind me including Ruth [Nelson, Tuthill Pump's president] and Danny [Sanders] who were a huge support," Kathy said. Tuthill Pump was able to pay the freight costs to ship the pumps to Uganda. Tuthill was also able to match Kathy's donation of $2,500 to the project.
The WOW award is a recognition at Tuthill Pump that has traditionally been given amongst employees. Kathy was excited to be able to take the first two WOW Awards outside of Tuthill.
Of course, Kathy gave the main recognition to her sister Patty, who has made it her life work to help the children. "I couldn't have done it without her," Kathy said. The Uganda support team also runs a thrift store in Portaland, Oregon called Sam’s Attic, where all of the proceeds go to help pay the teachers at the Ugandan school. Their next goal is for each student to receive one meal per day while at school.
While the school has a bulk food fund, the support team has plans to raise funds to purchase another seven-acre garden to increase the food supply. With the addition of pumping water to the garden, and not depending on rains for the harvest, the goal is to have enough food to feed each of the 1,600 students one meal per school day.