Monday, January 28th, during a regular meeting at the Beekman Arms, the Rhinebeck Rotary featured a presentation by Meghan de Vries from Gravity Water, a not for profit organization whose mission is to bring 100% energy-free drinking water to communities in developing countries. Ms. de Vries is the company’s Youth Initiative East Coast Coordinator and graduated from Roger Williams University with a degree in Environmental Sciences. She was also a Peace Corps volunteer and is a graduate of Rhinebeck High School where she was an active participant and leader in the Interact Club.
Ms. de Vries began her presentation with an overview of the world water crisis, citing two major challenges: physical water scarcity and economic water scarcity. According to reliable data, two billion people drink contaminated water each year, resulting in five hundred thousand deaths; therefore, the United Nations has declared 2018 to 2028 the “Water Action Decade.” Gravity Water’sapproach to dealing with the crisis is to build water tanks large enough to supply potable water to students at local schools year round. Gravity Water has completed projects in Nepal, Vietnam, and in Puerto Rico in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria. Gravity Water plans to expand its initiatives into Paraguay, Uruguay, and Brazil. These initiatives are facilitated by partnerships with other organizations which help to identify and connect with schools in each area.
As Youth Initiative East Coast Coordinator, Ms. de Vriesdescribed her job as “empowering students to become leaders in environmental innovation.” She works with high schools in the United States, which are then paired with sister schools in the affected overseas areas, and students then design water systems to be built by community members. Rhinebeck High School is the latest school to join this initiative. She described her own career trajectory as a testament to the effect of her experiences with the Interact Club in Rhinebeck High School. For more information on Gravity Water, one may visit the organization’s website: http://www.gravitywater.org.
The Rhinebeck Rotary Club meets on Mondays at 12:15 pm at the Beekman Arms throughout the year. The Rotary is a humanitarian organization dedicated to enhancing the lives of others through local, national, and international service projects. Weekly meetings typically feature speakers covering a variety of human-interest topics. Interested guests are welcome to attend. For information on becoming a member, to reserve a speaker’s spot at an upcoming meeting, or to attend a meeting to hear a specific speaker, contact Lou Trapani at 845-876-3088, ext. 14.