By Perla Arellano and Amanda Castro-Crist
Almost 800 million people in the world do not have access to clean water. According to figures from the U.N., 3.5 million people die each year as a result.
This week, Amarillo College students and staff and members of the local community had a chance to hear how one person took it upon himself to change those numbers.
Doc Hendley, the 2013 AC Common Reader author of Wine to Water, spoke at multiple events Tuesday, first at AC and then at the Globe-News Center for the Performing Arts. Hendley discussed his book, which details his mission to bring clean water to parts of the world that need it most.
“Maybe for the first time in my life, I’m doing what I’m supposed to be doing,” he said.
Students were able to interact with Hendley at the taping of a Panhandle PBS segment and at a reception at the Amarillo Museum of Art. At each, they were able to ask questions about his experiences and how they could get involved at local and international levels.
People don’t have to join the Peace Corps and go across the world, Hendley said. It’s about the common relationships one makes throughout life.
“There’s going to come times when life sucks,” he said. “On those days surround yourself with people who believe in you more than you believe in yourself so that one day you can look back and smile.”
For video coverage of Doc Hendley’s presentation, click here.
Hendley also spoke of getting his start, like many of those in attendance, as a student at a community college.
“The best grades I ever made were at a community college,” said Hendley, adding that he thrived off atmosphere of smaller classes and additional engagement. “The teachers that I met, they loved that particular setting just as much as I did.”
Selena Mendoza, an education major, said the Hendley lecture was touching and that she enjoyed that he wasn’t afraid to show his feelings.
“You can tell he was speaking from his heart,” she said.
Sandra Apodaca, a psychology major, said she liked how he made the lecture humorous and said she was even able to get a lesson out of it.
“Not just to be passionate about what he’s passionate about, but to find your own passion,” she said.
Local high school students also attended the lecture. Sam Auvermann and Connor Gray, both from Amarillo High School, attended the lecture to hear Hendley and also support other AHS students from the International Baccalaureate program. The IB students will host the first Wine to Water 5K Run and Walk to raise funds for the nonprofit organization.
Auvermann said he liked that he was able to put a face to the name and that he plans on participating in the 5K.
AC Presidential Scholars were in attendance at the events and took donations for their trip to Cambodia this summer. While in Cambodia, they will assist Hendley’s team with the installation and repair of water wells. Hendley said he’s excited to work with the students.
Many asked Hendley the same question throughout the day: students, with limited resources and time, sometimes feel like they can’t make a difference or that what little they do is not enough – how can they help? Hendley had a simple answer for them.
“Don’t worry if you can’t save the world tomorrow. It’s not about how big or how small, it’s ‘What can I do?’”