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Friendly Water for the World: ‘It’s the Water’ – Sharing safe drinking water worldwide

Ginny Stern-SBOH and David Albert-SBOH; Ret., have spent many hours working for the state to ensure you and I don’t have to worry about the water we drink. In fact, it’s something we don’t even think about. But they are pro-active worldwide.

Ginny Stern-SBOH and David Albert-SBOH; Ret., have spent many hours working for the state to ensure you and I don’t have to worry about the water we drink. In fact, it’s something we don’t even think about. But they are pro-active worldwide.

By Dick Pust
FTE News Magazine

Safe water is their passion. Both David Albert and Ginny Stern have spent many hours working for the state to ensure you and I don’t have to worry about the water we drink. In fact, it’s something we don’t even think about. Stern, a hydro geologist with the State Board of Health said, “When we do our job right, they don’t notice us.” Albert, a retired senior health planner with the same agency adds, “That’s how public health is supposed to work.” But, while safe drinking water is taken for granted here in Washington State, that’s not the case in many parts of the world.
Albert retired from his job with the state in 2012 so he could devote full time to an organization called “Friendly Water for the World”, of which he is chairman of the board. Its mission is to help people in impoverished countries have clean water to drink. Albert says his passion comes from his Quaker background and his interest in social justice. He recruited Stern, a co-worker at the state, to be a part of the group. Stern is now the organization’s treasurer. Friendly Water for the World is a small organization with only nine members on the board of directors, but its impact is being felt worldwide, with current projects in Burundi and India.

Albert says, “We are an anti-charity charity. We don’t believe in doing for others what they can do for themselves – with training.” As Albert, Stern, and I enjoyed coffee at Barns and Noble on Olympia’s west side, a miniature model of a water filtration system sat on our table. Albert showed how the easily constructed device would filter impure water and make it drinkable. It can be built for about $50 and will supply clean water for a family of twelve for as long as thirty years.

Volunteers with Friendly Water – often with help from a local service club such as Rotary – find areas in the world where their help is needed. Recipients go through a 5-day training program. They have to pay for the equipment and supplies. Albert says people are more likely to be committed if it costs them something. In fact, he says, “Friendly Water for the World”, encourages the development of local business to build and sell the devices. Albert says that not only helps provide clean water, but also creates jobs. Once established Friendly Water leaves and moves on to another project.

Albert has a Master’s degree from the University of Chicago in “Committee on Social Thought.” He also has a degree in medieval studies from Oxford University in England and a degree in English and Comparative Literature from Williams College in Massachusetts. Albert, who owned his own publishing company for a while, describes himself as a writer and a quick study, which he attributes to his landing a job with the State Department of Health. He said they needed someone who could turn out public health reports for the governor. His job required him to stay on top of public health issues including the importance of clean water. Albert has a special love for India, a country he tries to visit at least once a year. In his view, water conditions there are worse now than they were 40 years ago, and he intends to do something about that through “Friendly Water for the World”.

Stern, meanwhile, has a BA in environmental science from Western Washington University. In 1987 she was among the first to receive a Master’s degree from The Evergreen State College in their Environmental science program. Stern and her little cocker spaniel live on a 300 square foot houseboat at West Bay Marina. “No garage and no lawn to mow,” Stern says, “and I wake up every morning to the sight of the Olympic Mountains and the best view in Olympia of the state capital.”

Even though Albert and Stern are compassionate for the people in impoverished areas of the world, they love living in our capitol city. Albert sums it up this way. “The people of Olympia are just amazing. It’s full of caring, compassionate and active people. I’ve lived all over the world and I don’t know any other place like this. Olympians don’t realize the extraordinary place in which they live. It’s the people.”

Yes, it’s the people – people like David Albert and Ginny Stern – who make the community and the world a better place in which to live.

You can help “Friendly Water for the World” by donating through the Combined Fund Drive (CFD) Charity Code # 1480794 or go to www.freindlywaterfortheworld.com, an International Relief and Development charity.

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