When I was a little girl in elementary school I loved playing dress-up and having tea parties with my friends. I also loved helping my mom and going with her to deliver food to people who were sick or in need. These “deliveries” made me feel good, and then I would run right back to playing dress-up or hosting tea parties. I guess this was typical of a young girl…but not for my young friends, the Adams sisters
Meet Isabelle and Katherine who began their journey as Co-CEO’s of their nonprofit, Paper for Water, when they were just five and eight! Yes, as one reporter once wrote, “their collective ages would not even be old enough to get a driver’s license,” but they would soon become the drivers behind thousands of volunteers around the globe for a life-saving cause.
It all began with a small fundraising project making and selling origami ornaments to fund a camp for the burn unit of Dallas’ Parkland Hospital. Isabelle and Katherine’s dad, Ken Adams, whose mother was Japanese, taught the girls to make the beautiful ornaments as a part of bringing something from his culture to his young daughters. They all agreed these ornaments might sell well for the project. The goal was to raise $500 and they would sell the ornaments at a neighborhood Starbucks. Expecting the sale to go for a week, the Adams were shocked when the entire goal was raised in one night. More were made and sold and funds gifted, the girls had become philanthropists.
A short time later, they learned in school that many young girls in developing countries do not attend school because they have to walk great distances to get water. The girls were heartbroken to learn that every 15 seconds a child dies from drinking unclean water. Unlike me when I was their age, they didn’t just go back to playing …they began a movement! Paper for Water was born, volunteers recruited all over the United States, and school children and corporate CEO’s all joined in, making origami to sell. By the end of 2016, the goal of $1,000,000 dollars had been met, 300+ wells were dug around the globe, several of the new wells located in the US on a Navajo reservation. In 2017, Isabelle and Katherine, now 13 and 11, recruited their younger sister Trinity, only six years old, to join the team as Director of Marketing…don’t laugh, she can operate and repair a broken well!
So, what do you do when you have raised so much money, provided water to thirsty children around the globe, recruited thousands of volunteers all over the U.S.? You go abroad and visit the children whose lives you have impacted of course! Mom and Dad (Deb and Ken) are taking the girls on an 8 month journey of “School on the Road” to enrich not only their children, but also the children they will meet from Latin America, Africa and Asia. And yes, the girls are recruiting along the way, teaching origami in villages and schools. If only the entire world could learn from these young entrepreneurs that yes, we should be our brother’s keeper and they in turn for us. They give because they want all children to not only have clean water but also to enjoy opportunities such as education and simply to witness caring hearts. Where will Isabelle, Katherine, and Trinity Adams be in 15 or 20 years? I can only imagine…but I know they will be doing amazing things to make the world a better place for all.
Fantastic article Tricia! Thank you for sharing the PaperForWater message with all your readers