SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – One Springfield woman is finishing what she started in hopes of helping an entire community. Two months ago, OzarksFirst learned about the effort to help the homeless stay hydrated.
This November, charity founder and CEO of the ARA Water Foundation, Krystal Wuller, hasn’t reached her fundraising goal of $20,500 yet. But, ARA and the Community Partnership of the Ozarks (CPO) have raised enough money to start making an impact: $16,084. These funds allowed distribution efforts to begin.
CPO helped give out around 100 64-ounce water bottles to homeless people at the Veterans Coming Home Center to start the month.
“This launching and taking place during Homelessness Awareness Month couldn’t be more serendipitous,” Wuller said. “It’s beautiful. It makes me want to tear up. It’s incredible. It’s perfect timing. It really allows us to have a platform to educate the general public of this overlooked issue.”
OzarksFirst spoke with Brenda Holt, who says she has been homeless since mid-July. She was among the bunch who received a water bottle.
“[I plan on using this] probably forever,” Holt said. “I’m going to take it with me everywhere I go. It’s an amazing gift because I can drink a lot of water from here.”
Through this project, at least 400 more bottles will be given out. There’s a possibility for more to meet the needs of Springfield’s homeless community.
Kevin Holcomb says he appreciates the gesture after being on and off the streets for the past four years.
“After a certain time when you’re out, you don’t have access to water,” Holcomb said. “There are a lot of times where I need a drink of water, but I just don’t have it. I take medicine for my blood pressure and heart. I also have stroke medication and blood thinners. Now I don’t have to try to swallow pills dry and get them stuck in my esophagus somewhere. All the support we can get right now means a lot.”
CPO’s director of homeless services, Adam Bodendieck, says looking out for others is why his non-profit got involved.
“Water is just so critical,” Bodendieck said. “Having access to clean water is a basic human need. So, to be able to have an opportunity to help meet that need is something that we were very excited to partner with ARA and with [Wuller] on.”
Wuller says the project is making great progress so far, but she hopes to raise more than $4,000 to hit her fundraising goal of $20,500.
“We need to step up as a society and support clean water initiatives,” Wuller said. “We need to support more public access to water.”