June 17, 2014
Voss Foundation held our first event of the summer, the fourth annual Women Helping Women Boston event, on June 12, 2014, at Legal Harborside – our most successful Boston event ever! Thank you to the sponsors and attendees who came to support our cause, and made our luncheon the perfect opening to our summer calendar!
Overlooking the beautiful Boston Wharf, the luncheon began with our African Bazaar. Here, Voss Foundation sold artisanal products from Swaziland, Liberia, Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Kenya, just a few of the countries where the organization has implemented clean water projects. Guests enjoyed shopping for scarves, tote bags, jewelry and home goods while eating delicious hors d’oeuvres and drinking champagne. If you were unable to attend our Boston event, you can shop our African Bazaar online!
After the short shopping spree, the nearly 50 guests in attendance sat down and were welcomed by Amy Donahue, VOSS Water’s On-Premise Eastern Division Manager. Amy reflected on her experience visiting a Voss Foundation clean water project Swaziland just a year ago. She told guests how she was shaken to learn that the women often walk 1km or farther to retrieve water, saying, “it gave a whole new meaning to the term, ‘working mother.’” After playing the moving “Water is Life” video, Amy introduced our Executive Director, and new mother herself, Kara Gerson.
Kara addressed two common questions she receives: Why Sub-Saharan Africa, and why Voss Foundation? She explained that Voss Foundation focuses on communities within sub-Saharan Africa because the UN has found that Sub-Saharan Africa lags furthest behind in the Millennium Development Goal for clean water and sanitation. As a result, this region is in that most in need of attention. Kara further explained that what makes Voss Foundation unique is that the organization does not merely install infrastructure such as hand-pumps or a latrines and consider the job finished. Rather, Voss Foundation works closely with our partners and the communities to follow each water access point or sanitation facility that we install to ensure the sustainability our projects. By continuing to follow up regularly, Voss Foundation is able to see the larger “ripple effect” of the organization’s efforts, such as on women and children, that cannot be understated. Kara recalled a particularly moving message from a headmaster in Latakwen, the site of Voss Foundation’s first clean water project, “Our kids no longer carry jerry cans… they now carry school books.” Read the five-year follow up report to learn more about the ripple effect clean water has had on Latakwen.
Following Kara, we were especially honored to have Nana Meriwether speak. Nana was crowned Miss USA 2012 and is co-founder of the Meriwether Foundation, a US-based 501(c)(3) charity that operates programs in health, education, nutrition, and empowerment in rural and impoverished communities in Southern Africa. She spoke on the importance of Voss Foundation’s ripple effect. Born in South Africa, to a South African mother and an American father who met doing philanthropic aid work, Nana has a personal connection with Women Helping Women’s initiative. She underscored the immense burden placed upon women and young girls, remarking how “women and children can spend up to 8 hours per day transporting water” and how many other activities these 8 hours could be devoted to if more convenient water and sanitation access points existed. Our guest of honor wrapped up the speeches by attesting to the value in supporting Voss Foundation’s Women Helping Women campaign.
Voss Foundation would like to thank Legal Harborside for a fabulous venue, Tangerine Creations for beautiful table arrangements, and Benefit Cosmetics for providing the gift bags. Wine and water were donated thanks to Martignetti Companies, Chandon, Rutherford Ranch Winery, and VOSS Water. A big thanks to Wayne E. Chinnock for the stunning photography. Also, a special thanks to designer and Women Helping Women Boston committee member, Nara Paz, who outfitted Nana in one of her spectacular dresses for the event.
To view more photos of the event, click here!