According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, the definition of the “Ripple Effect” is: a situation in which one event causes a series of other events to happen. Following this train of logic, one can surmise that if you do a good deed, many other good deeds can come of it.
That’s what Allovus employee, Pat DeLapp and his good friend, Michael Ewens have been focusing on for the past several years—and the results are phenomenal.
Pat DeLapp works for Allovus as an Administrative Assistant, but does a variety of interesting jobs for our company: Gatekeeper, Handyman, and Roadie. (Roadie because he worked in the entertainment business for 25 years.) As you know, Allovus employees like to give back—and Pat is a prime example of this. He acts as Treasurer for his friend Michael’s non-profit charity, The Ripple Effect, which helps poverty-stricken people in Guatemala attain clean water and food.
Pat outlined the reason Michael Ewens began his charity. “Several years ago, Michael had four sons in Iraq and Afghanistan. When one of his sons, Lt. Forrest Ewens, was killed in an ambush, Michael decided to take his son’s military insurance and find a way to honor his memory. After much research, he started a charity called The Ripple Effect (TRE) and decided to go to the mountains of Guatemala and help the thousands of people who were driven out of their homes and villages by war and violence. These people live in unbelievable poverty. Many live in crude huts with dirt floors and live on the most primitive of foods. In seven short years, Michael has gotten water to seven villages and has been the driving force for setting up over 400 gardens.”
The very next project will be life-saving for the people who live in these villages. “We’re currently in the process of raising money to purchase a 10 acre ranch which is located near the villages to set up a learning center to teach the people about gardening, sanitation, and many other areas that affect the quality of life for these beautiful hard working people,” Pat said. “We eventually plan on turning this site over to the Ixil people we’re helping there. I would very much appreciate it if you would check out our blog and our website. We truly believe it’s better to offer a ‘hand up’ than a ‘hand out.’ We help with materials but the Guatemalans provide all the labor.”
Why is The Ripple Effect such an important organization? “It is relational and puts the seeds of social change in the hands of the people who need it most,” founder Michael Ewens said. “When we do a water project, we require total village participation. After the completion of the project, we can walk away and life returns to normal, albeit with clean water where there once was none. Gardening is different. It requires constant problem-solving and planning for the next steps and seasons. This aspect has pushed our organization and the Ixil people into a vibrant dialog. ‘How do we organize ourselves to solve the problem of food security?’ This has introduced a movement that realizes that even though they live in extreme poverty (less than a dollar a day per person) they have the power to organize, problem solve, and change their future for the better. The technical side of garden training we share is valuable but the side result of self-improvement is incredible. We are excited to watch this project spread through the region.”
Current projects include:
- Water Project: During the second part of August, we are starting a water project sponsored by the Gig harbor Rotary Club. It will serve 270 families in two villages. In one village, Los Encuentros, we will build 70 rain water collection tanks. Presently, the villagers collect water in open pits lined with plastic. The second village Jua’ is a project that will develop a mountain spring to bring water to 200 families through a gravity feed system.
- Stoves: We have a small stove building project that builds 10 to 15 stoves a month. By building stoves, we reduce wood consumption, eliminate a severe health risk from the smoke of open fire pits, and provide added safety to protect small children from burns.
- Gardens: We manage a garden program for 400 families and are purchasing 10 acres for our center.
- This year we have provided small animals for compasino families to raise, have delivered 200 water filters, 400 school backpacks, 600 blankets, and are selling solar lights. We keep busy and operate on less than 2% overhead.
Watch the ripple grow… How can you help?
Donating is an excellent way to help. “Why not?” Michael says. “If we have the power to make the world better why don’t we do it? Our donors have the opportunity to invest in a better future for a people who have been oppressed for generations. The Ixil people will double the value of the donation through their effort and work. T.R.E. believes it is a sacred trust to manage these gifts, and that is why we are able to operate on such a small overhead. This is a chance to have a direct positive effect on people who struggle daily with the basics of life. When a family lives on five or six hundred dollars a year and a donor can step in and assist them to climb out of that poverty for so little, why not share and create the tomorrow our hearts dream of?”