I Am Waters Foundation From the Runway to the Streets: Elena Davis gives Houston’s homeless a message in a bottle
Rags to riches
Elena Davis has graced the pages of Cosmopolitan and Harper’s Bazaar, but life wasn’t always so glamorous for the founder of I Am Waters. One of four siblings, Davis was raised in California by a single mother who struggled to make ends meet. “We led a very transient lifestyle. I went to a dozen different schools. Food was an issue because we relied on food stamps. My mother was often at work or school, so my older brother Doane always made sure we got something to eat, even if it was just sharing a can of soup.”
At age 16, Davis moved to Paris. On her second day, she scored a photo shoot with GermanVogue. “I never stopped working after that,” she says. Avoiding the pitfalls of the supermodel lifestyle, she built a solid career. “I never went to parties. I was afraid to go out at night because of the terrible neighborhoods I grew up in,” she recalls. Eventually, she returned to the US and was able to help her siblings pursue their own dreams.
In 2009, Davis founded I Am Waters, a nonprofit foundation that provides safe, transportable water to homeless individuals and shelters. During the summer of 2011, I Am Water delivered 300,000 bottles of water throughout Houston, Ft. Worth and Austin.