Water appeal makes splash - Your West Valley News: Topstory

Water appeal makes splash

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Posted: Tuesday, August 9, 2011 11:52 am

For most, water is a given — turn on the faucet or open the refrigerator and grab a bottle.

For some, though, the availability of water is a constant concern, and it is with that in mind that Banner Del E. Webb Medical Center’s Unity for Our Community program conducted its second Water Wednesday campaign.

“We set out as our goal this time to bring in 200 cases of water,” said Joanne Karas, founder of Unity for Our Community. “I was a little worried there for a bit. We got off to a slow start, but we ended up accepting 203 cases on the final day.”

In all, the campaign saw the donation of 400 cases of water, all to benefit the Banner Olive Branch Senior Center and Eve’s Place. Representatives from each organization were on hand at Banner Del E. Webb Monday morning to accept the donations.

Ivy Wixson, executive director at Olive Branch, said the water bottles will make a tremendous difference.

“Unity for Our Community has been amazing,” she said. “Every drive they’ve done has been very significant for us.”

Laura Horsley, executive director of Eve’s Place, said for her organization, having a large store of water means one less thing to worry about.

“This water will last us up to eight months, and maybe longer,” she said. “It is an amazing benefit to us to have this.”

In addition to their primary role as a support system for victims of domestic violence, Horsley said Eve’s Place also devotes much of its efforts to public outreach.

“We work out in the community,” she said. “We work with homeless women and children. Just having water bottles will help us a lot in those efforts.”

Unity for Our Community is an employee-based charity that champions a drive each quarter. Karas, who serves as an information specialist at Banner Del E. Webb, created the charity nearly two years ago with nurse Rhonda Farr-Dvorak. Karas was in the middle of treatment for breast cancer when she was inspired to act.

“We meet once a quarter and discuss the most pressing needs of these organizations,” Karas said. “We’ve collected water, non-perishable foods, personal hygiene items — we’ve done it all.”

John Harrington, Banner Del E. Webb’s CEO, attended Monday’s ceremony to offer congratulations. He said he is proud of the effort his staff put in.

“We’ve always considered ourselves part of the community and so I’m happy to see us giving back,” he said. “On the one hand you think, well, it’s only water. But it’s a need, and an important one.”

Harrington added he was impressed at how far the goal was surpassed.

“For the first Water Wednesday I believe we brought in a little less than 200 cases,” he said. “So this time we set our goal at 200 thinking it would be great if we could reach that number. The employees were able to do so much more, and I’m very proud.”

Karas said Unity for Our Community’s drives continue to be more successful, and she is looking forward to the next effort.

“I’m just happy we’re able to do something like this to help.”

Jeff Dempsey may be reached at 623-876-2531 or jdempsey@yourwestvalley.com.

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