Interns get the job done, help bring wells to Uganda

As well as getting the valuable, out-of-the-classroom experience they were supposed to get out of their internships, Grove City College students Annabelle Rutledge ’17 and Hannah Vaccaro ’18 can also say they changed thousands of lives for the better.

The women spent the summer of 2016 working as interns on fundraising for the Wexford, Pa.,-based Christian and East African Equatorial Development (CEED) Trust, an international nonprofit aid organization focused on improving living and economic conditions in poverty-stricken areas of the world.

Their job was to find the money that fuels CEED’s mission to drill hundreds of wells in Uganda, a country facing a debilitating water crisis. They ended up forging a partnership that will magnify the impact of CEED’s efforts.

Annabelle, a history major from Carmichael, Calif., and Hannah, an entrepreneurship major from Merrimack, N.H., brainstormed and worked the internet and the phones, spending hours on research to create portfolio materials and make presentations and cold calling dozens of water-oriented organizations to garner support. 

“I have never had to cold call so many organizations and I learned how to pitch the organization’s mission to save lives in two minutes or 30 minutes,” Hannah said. “Understanding the fine details of CEED in order to prove to donors why this organization was valuable to Uganda and worth the investment is tangible learning I normally could not get in the classroom.”

The fruit of that labor was a call Annabelle made to Wells of Life, an organization dedicated to bringing clean, safe drinking water to millions of Ugandans. 

“In the moment it seemed like a last-ditch effort, but in hindsight I can see that it was a divine appointment,” she said. “It was nearing the end of our time with CEED and I felt like we must have called every organization that was remotely connected with wells, water and Uganda.”

Instead of a receptionist or executive assistant – or even another intern – Annabelle’s cold call reached Nick Jordan, the organization’s founder. The match was perfect. CEED was looking for funds to build wells and Wells of Life was looking for ways to continue their mission. Annabelle connected Jordan to CEED’s board of directors and a partnership was forged. A contract between the two non-profits was recently inked.

Graham Hodgetts, president of CEED, said the women were relentless.

“As Annabelle and Hannah continued to make so many cold calls we could hear vestiges of desperation in their voices, but their determination prevailed. They would not take ‘no’ for an answer and just doggedly kept calling until they found Nick at Wells of Life. We are very impressed and grateful for them really sticking with it – and to Grove City College for producing two such winners,” Hodgetts said.

"We expanded our strategic plan in November of 2015 to include seeking resources to directly fund drilling water wells. These two young ladies and their tenacity have contributed significantly to the fulfillment of that plan," Worth Helms, CEED board member, said.

“The day I learned that Wells of Life would sponsor 500 wells over five years because of that phone call which uncovered the harmonious missions of these two amazing organizations, I cried,” Annabelle said. “God blessed the work we did.”

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Interns get the job done, help bring wells to Uganda

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