Entrepreneur, Change and Motivational
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Doc Hendley is the epitome of the idea that one person can make a difference. Tens of thousands of people around the world have clean drinking water they did not have before an idea popped into the head of this “tattooed keg-tapper”/musician’s head. Hendley realized that his ability to tend bar and create relationships with people could also allow him to do good for others. So Hendley started to raise money to fight this water epidemic the best way he knew how—by pouring wine and playing music at the bars where he worked.
Hendley has taken personal risks to do the hard work of providing clean water and clean water education in far-flung locations around the globe. He worked in dozens of refugee camps installing water systems for those affected by Darfur’s government-supported genocide. He often worked inside the United Nations' dangerous "no-go" zones to distribute water or chlorine tablets to people had only plastic sheeting for shelter.
Hendley was named one of the Top 10 CNN Heroes for 2009 (chosen from over 9,000 applicants by a panel of judges including Gen. Colin Powell, Whoopi Goldberg, Ted Turner and Sir Elton John).
Today Hendley’s Wine to Water foundation aims to help the 1.1 billion people worldwide who lack access to clean water. By using wine events to raise money and awareness about the lack of clean drinking water in the developing world, Hendley has harnessed a powerful social force and multiplied the generosity of many. He is, in essence, turning wine to water for some of the neediest people on the planet for three simple reasons: First, at least one in six people worldwide lack access to adequate amounts of safe water for drinking and hygiene, according to the UN. Second, water-borne illnesses kill far more children than HIV/AIDS and malaria combined. And, third, unclean water contributes to diarrhea, the leading cause of illness and death, and accounts for 1.5 million preventable deaths each year.
Hendley did not dream of dedicating his life to humanitarian efforts in developing countries. He graduated from North Carolina State University with a Communications degree that he wasn’t sure how to use. While bartending to pay the bills, Hendley noticed that the men and women sitting on the stools seemed to want to be part of something bigger. The 30-year-old became inspired behind the bar, and today his nonprofit group has dug, repaired, and sanitized drinking wells for 25,000 people in five Third World countries. It's an idea that started with wine tastings and a humble donation jar. Hendley calls himself proof that anyone, even a “tattooed keg-tapper,” can cure what ails the world. He recently published his first book, Wine to Water: A Bartender's Quest for Clean Water in the World, to share his transformative story.