Hydration campaign helps those in desperate need - East Valley Tribune: Columnists

Hydration campaign helps those in desperate need

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John R. Goodie is a Gilbert resident and a Mesa MLK committee member.

Posted: Tuesday, June 14, 2011 1:33 pm | Updated: 9:58 am, Wed Jun 15, 2011.

On June 1, the city of Mesa began its fifth annual Mesa Hydration Donation Campaign, working along with several nonprofit agencies to provide supplies of water to the homeless and unsheltered.

So far, we’re off to a slow start.

Water donations received at some drop-off stations are the lowest in the five years of the program, and at a few stations no water has been received yet.

Last year, 109,125 bottles of water were donated during the campaign, far exceeding the previous year’s total of approximately 60,000. This is a call to all who would like to assist with this donation campaign as temperatures will soon hit triple digits on a regular basis.

If the thought hits you the next time you’re at the grocery store to pick up a couple extra cases of water, you will be God sent to many seeking relief this summer. If your sons need an Eagle Scout project and/or daughters’ Girl Scout troops are looking for ways to help with meaningful projects in the community, this could be the ticket. I can’t think of a better humane project.

I can personally speak to what cold bottles of water mean to those in need with temperatures sweltering over 110 degrees in July. Mesa Park Rangers is in its third year of participation with the hydration donation campaign. The Rangers reach those who can’t get to the designated water drop-off locations to pick up water due to lack of transportation or if they’re just simply too weak and dehydrated to travel.

Last summer, Park Rangers handed out 72 cases of water — 1,728 bottles — in Mesa city parks to people who were in desperate need. Rangers carry iced coolers in their vehicles filled with donated water while performing normal daily duties patrolling city parks, and will hand out two bottles of cold water to those in distress, etc.

Last summer we encountered two emergency situations in which cold bottles of water proved to be somewhat of a life line for two men who required immediate medical assistance from Mesa Fire Department paramedics; one gentleman had to be transported to the hospital.

We’ve been told by many homeless people as we’re giving out water that we’re timely angels handing out nectar from the gods. I tell them we’re no angels and the water is donated by citizens. But witnessing a person chugging down a cold bottle of water and seeing the short relief it brings... All I can say is “Wow!”

I don’t know if other East Valley cities have hydration campaigns but if they do, I’ll issue a challenge to my fellow park rangers since you’re out patrolling your city parks daily: If at all possible, reach out and touch someone who has no means to get a cold bottle of water.

For more information about the program, contact Mesa Housing and Community Development Assistant Mischelle Durkovic at (480) 644-3983 or mischelle.durkovic@mesaaz.gov.

• John R. Goodie is a Mesa park ranger

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