Ithaca College SafeWater
Liz Getman and Aaron King, seniors at Ithaca College in Ithaca, New York, launched a campus organization, called IC SafeWater, in their junior year (2007) with the aim of raising awareness of world water issues around campus and $10,000 for WaterAid.
Liz first became aware of the global water crisis when she was in Guatemala in the summer of 2007 as a member of a medical volunteer team. In addition to providing medical supplies to those in need of healthcare, the group donated small water filters to families, communities and churches.
“It was then that I began to realize the severity of our world’s water crisis and the problems facing those who have little or no access to clean water and sanitation. I told Aaron of my experience and we decided to learn more. We searched online for international charities and organizations for which we could raise money to donate to water and sanitation projects.
“WaterAid struck us instantly and we spent many hours on the website learning and figuring out a game plan. We contacted WaterAid America and after an encouraging discussion, Aaron and I decided WaterAid was the way to go.”
Ithaca College—like most colleges and universities in general—is a hotbed of activism. Students are very involved in clubs and organizations dedicated to activist causes.
Liz said, “Since we did not know much about the lack of water and sanitation coverage in the world prior to my time in Guatemala, we figured not many other students would either. So we wanted to increase awareness of the problem on campus, hoping to inspire students to take action. We hoped many would want to get involved, and fortunately, we were right.
“I think college is the perfect place to open up your eyes and mind to other worlds and other problems outside of one’s own or those in one’s own country. We have had enormous success so far and have had a great time doing it!”
For college students, fun activities and events draw their attention. For example, on World Toilet Day, IC SafeWater set up a game in the middle of the campus center (where most students eat, socialize and spend time in between classes). They put a toilet seat on the wall with the idea that it would act as a sort of basketball hoop. People tossed a roll of toilet paper into the hoop. This attracted a lot of attention and many people became interested in the cause.
The university group was also featured in the college newspaper a few times, which is the best way for any group on campus to raise awareness of their activities and causes.
In addition the benefit concert, which was their biggest success to date, IC SafeWater has also raised funds in others ways.
“We’ve had three sales with a popular store in Ithaca called Ten Thousand Villages. It is a fair trade store with products made in developing countries all over the world. By providing the store with a place to set up and sell its goods, we receive 15% of the profits made from the sale. Individual and group donations are also a huge help.
“The group sent out a Christmas letter/card of sorts to our family members explaining our cause and requesting a small donation. We’ve also received money from Rotary clubs, churches and other community groups. Just meeting with different people and organizations in and around the community seems to be the best way to get donations.”
Liz and Aaron are convinced that they couldn’t have managed this campus organization without the support of our group members, the IC community, and the Ithaca community at large.
“We are very fortunate to have so many people interested in what we are doing. Fundraising can be difficult and disheartening at times when no money is rolling in. But SafeWater supporters keep us going!”
Inspired by IC SafeWater? Why not set up your own online fundraising community with FirstGiving?
I think college is the perfect place to open up your eyes and mind to other worlds and other problems outside of one’s own or those in one’s own country.
Liz Getman, Ithaca College senior, founder of