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Project brings water where it is needed

Date: 8/4/2010

Aug. 4, 2010

By Lori Szepelak

Correspondent

HOLYOKE -- Turning wine into water was an appropriate theme for the Holyoke Rotary Club as their recently successful fundraiser proved.

A wine tasting and silent auction benefit in early June at Loomis Village in South Hadley exceeded its goal of raising $10,000, which will assist with providing needed water filters and latrines in Honduras.

Close to 150 area residents attended the festive affair, which featured a wide selection of wines provided by Brennan's Place, as well as several brews and Hadley's own V-One Vodka.

During a recent wrap-up meeting at Brennan's Place on High Street, committee members were elated that the community once again supported its efforts to raise funds to purchase lifetime bio sand water purification filters and latrines for families in remote villages including Trojes in Honduras.

Committee members will now meet with representatives from Pure Water for the World (PWW), based in Rutland, Vt., on June 28 to discuss strategies for the distribution of funds raised at the wine tasting.

"Pure Water for the World are the experts for determining the greatest need," Ed McCarron said. McCarron served on the wine tasting committee, along with Jan Soja, Gail Pisacane, Lasca Hoey, Maureen Ross O'Connell, Danielle Labelle-Boucher, Bob Goshea and Karen Blanchard.

For Hoey and McCarron, they know first hand how villages can thrive after receiving an improved water system.

"We met people, visited clinics and saw how we were making a difference," McCarron said, reflecting on their 2007 trip to Honduras. "We came back inspired to do more."

During that fact-finding trip, they saw the process of manufacturing, delivery and setup of the filters that were funded.

For the past three years, Holyoke Rotarians have raised money for the purchase of water purification filters for families in remote villages in Honduras, according to Hoey.

"The water they manage to find is usually contaminated with parasites that can cause devastating illness and death to the most vulnerable populations children and the elderly," she said.

Hoey noted that the children who do survive tend to lose "precious time" in school.

In 2006 the local club adopted the village of Yuscaran and provided filters to more than 100 families. Because extended families tend to live together, more than 1,000 people were served, according to Hoey.

In 2008, the Rotarians partnered with six clubs and with the aid of district and foundation grants supported a $78,000 project designed to benefit another 35,000 persons in Honduras through the installation of 512 bio filters and 130 water collection centers.

For their latest project, they are partnering with PWW and UNICEF to provide 210 water filters and 113 latrines in Trojes.

"We know we are making an impact but so much more needs to be done in areas of the world that do not have the access to safe, potable water that we are fortunate enough to take for granted every day," Hoey said.

The club wishes to thank PeoplesBank, the major sponsor of the event, as well as Pat Brennan of Brennan's Place, Brunault, Proulx & McGuinness, Valley Opportunity Council, Holyoke Medical Center, and the Loomis Communities for their support in ensuring the fundraiser was a success.