I Am Waters Foundation

Today is 09.26.2016

Stories from Houston, Austin, and Ft. Worth | I Am Waters 2011

2011 I Am Waters Foundation | Houston, Austin, and Ft. Worth

I Am Waters has come to the end of our summer 2011 delivery. I would like to take a moment to look back at the interactions, stories and treasures that summer 2011 held. Providing water to the homeless is a privilege that we on the IAW team hold sacred. Being allowed into the lives and hearts of the homeless we serve, to photograph and spend time with them, has been transformative. As with any good relationship, the benefit is mutual. Not only are the homeless deeply impacted, we, too, are better people from the shared and cherished experiences on this journey with our fellow Americans. We’ve learned that all involved are affected by the words on the water bottles, from the homeless individuals who receive our water, and the hardworking staff at partner organizations, to the volunteers, media, and friends who play a role in our program.

We started summer 2011 by filming the steps of water production and distribution, from label making, to bottle manufacturing, photo shoots, interviews, academic research through surveys and, delivery of 300,000 bottles of water to 15 partnering organizations that serve the homeless in three Texas cities.

It is our desire to share the process of thought, creativity and planning that goes into every bottle of water and into photos taken by the gifted people that comprise IAW team. We know now, through our research data, that when a homeless individual learns the bottle of water we deliver isn’t a cast off or expired sports drink that didn’t sell in a grocery store, the individual is greatly impacted, even stunned.

Made beautifully and expressly for a group of individuals that, by and large, are invisible and valueless within our society, I have witnessed the bottles having a profound impact and engendering an attitudinal shift. Upon learning the bottles of water and message were designed expressly for those without a place to call home, was empowering to the recipient. It made the person receiving our water feel cared for, eradicating feelings of being forgotten and forsaken. The bottle and word, combined, served as proof that someone from the “outside” knew they were there and cared for them. The impact of which can be seen in the videos and images displayed as content within the pages of this website.

One of the changes that we witnessed from IAW summer 2010 delivery to IAW summer 2011 were behavioral, conveyed by my firsthand experience or connection to stories related to me by shelter staff. The progression from homelessness to housing and the role IAW bottles played in those moves was a pattern that played out consistently through Houston, Austin and Ft. Worth.

Caresha Baker; Dorleta Johnson, and her children; Rosia Williams, and her four children; Maso Mason Jr., and son all reported the words of inspiration on the bottles serving as a reminder to have HOPE, LOVE, PEACE and to hold onto their DREAMS by keeping the bottles of water close to them. In fact, they and their children saved the bottles, taking them to their new residences to use them as decoration and a talisman for their new lives. Whether we are homeless or not, it was one of the children on these videos who told me, “Everyone needs to remember to hang onto the good things in their hearts, because that is what God wants us to do”.

My hope is that you will be moved to a new level of understanding, about who the homeless are, as you navigate your way through the stories, images, and the voices of people that you just wouldn’t otherwise have an opportunity to know. And that you will remember that they are not just people, they are Americans.