An Oklahoma City-based nonprofit plans to highlight the state's compassionate and adventurous nature at a fundraiser event featuring actor Jennie Garth and Grammy Award-winning Gospel recording artist Sandi Patty.
The Water4 Foundation will host its inaugural Pioneering Spirit Gala on Sept. 27 in Oklahoma City. The event will include a silent auction, remarks by Garth, who is a Water4 ambassador, and a performance by Patty.
Terri Greenly, who co-founded the Water4 Foundation with her husband Dick, said former Congressman J.C. Watts, the event's chairman, will speak at the gala, and other congressional leaders are expected to attend as well.
Greenly said she and her husband are pleased that the foundation's first Pioneering Spirit Gala is sold out.
She said it means that many other individuals and groups believe in the foundation's mission.
“If you look at the definition of ‘pioneering' it can either be someone who came first or someone who's blazing a new trail,” Greenly said.
“We kind of think Oklahomans have done a good job of doing things in the past that were really neat and noteworthy and then there are a lot of Oklahomans now that are doing some really neat things to help solve the world water crisis in a different way and with a different approach than anybody's done before.”
The Greenlys, co-owners of Pumps of Oklahoma, founded the Water4 Foundation in 2009 to provide water to at-risk impoverished areas and to teach and provide employment opportunities through their inexpensive pumps and drilling methods. Since the foundation's inception, it has provided access to clean drinking water to more than 100,000 people in countries including Haiti, Sierra Leone, Rwanda and Uganda.
Terri Greenly said she and her husband, through their business, started out donating water pumps to other groups that were conducting clean water projects.
She said Dick Greenly eventually ended up traveling to China and helping to create the first solar water pump project in mainland China.
Terri Greenly said individuals began coming forward to donate money to see these types of projects reproduced in other areas, and the Water4 Foundation as a nonprofit organization was born.
“We wanted to be able to allow more people to get involved and to take it to the next level besides our business,” she said.
Greenly said gala attendees will be the first to see a new documentary about Water4's work in the global community.
“It presents the problem and it also presents the solution,” she said.
“We're approaching solving the water crisis in a different way than has been done in the past, so we want to introduce people to the method that we believe is a more effective, more hopeful solution.”
Greenly said several artists have donated “spectacular artwork” for a silent auction. She said most of it in some way represents the people whose lives were changed when they received clean water. Other auction items include Dallas Cowboys NFL tickets and Oklahoma City Thunder NBA tickets, Greenly said.