SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – Every year, hundreds of people experiencing homelessness in the U.S. die from dehydration, and 72 percent of homeless people are also almost always thirsty, according to the ARA Water Foundation.
ARA founder, Krystal Wuller, says she is trying to put a stop to this in the Queen City.
Wuller is raising thousands of dollars, so more homeless people in town can have access to cold, safe drinking water. To Wuller, this isn’t a random project. She left her full-time public teaching job in May of 2021 to help unsheltered individuals full-time. It turns out, one day at a gas station inspired her to pursue this mission.
“I tried to fill a plastic water bottle, and I was denied and told I needed a reusable bottle,” Wuller said. “This started a trickle effect in my life of, ‘If I’m having the challenge to get water, what is it like for those experiencing homelessness in our community that don’t have a house to go and fill up their water bottles at?’ That’s when I learned that so many businesses and gas stations will work with you and fill reusable bottles. It’s how [my] whole Foundation started.”
Wuller founded the ARA Water Foundation in Tempe, Arizona. She has been donating reusable water bottles in the Phoenix metro area. The Foundation has donated 475 bottles to date. Now, Wuller hopes to do the same in Springfield.
“Springfield is my hometown,” Wuller said. “It holds a huge place in my heart. It’s where I grew up. It’s where I graduated college. It’s where I found the love and passion for being an advocate for the homeless community and ensuring that their basic human needs are met. I used to work with The Gathering Tree and other organizations here. This is the first city that I wanted to come back and make a difference in.”
Her Foundation is partnering with the Community Partnership of the Ozarks (CPO) to raise $20,500. Together, they have already raised more than $14,000. CPO chipped in $5,000. President and CEO Janet Dankert says the donation was made possible by several anonymous donors.
“CPO coordinates the local Continuum of Care which is the Ozarks Alliance to End Homelessness,” Dankert said. “That Alliance involves all of the partners who serve our homeless community in Springfield and surrounding communities. It just made sense for us to be involved in this project because all of our partners serve that community. It helps us meet our mission of building resilient children, healthy families and strong neighborhoods and communities.”
Wuller is trying to fundraise for water bottles using Cause Momentum and The Ara Foundation’s website.
“As numbers change in the homeless community, we are working on meeting the exact need of everyone in the community needing a bottle,” Wuller said.
The bottles are 64-ounces of double-walled, stainless steel. This means the water can stay cold for a full day.
“So as long as a person is able to find the means to have one of our refill sites, every time they have a refill daily, their water will be cold,” Wuller said.
Refill sites are another part of this project. CPO has already put a “Safe Fill Site” sticker on the entrance doors of its downtown Springfield location.
“Also, we’re going to lead the distribution part of that,” Dankert said. “We’ll be working with partner agencies and advocacy groups like Gathering Friends to help us get the bottles out to that community.”
Wuller says her goal is to donate 500 bottles by November 1, 2021.
“November is Homeless Awareness Month,” Wuller said. “This would be a huge campaign to get our community aware of the need for water for the most vulnerable in our community.”
Wuller says a $30 donation can give one person experiencing homelessness a water bottle. A $100 contribution would give three people a bottle.
If you would like to donate, you can do so by clicking either link: