"For of those to whom much is given, much is required"
- John F. Kennedy
Just like flowers, water nurtures growth in people and communities. Over the years, Madeleine and I have found ourselves the fortunate recipients of opportunity. While neither of us grew up in tremendous wealth, our lives were not fraught with the worry brought on by turning the tap in the kitchen and seeing it fail to run. Both of us worked for the City of Baltimore Department of Public Works where we saw an infrastructure faced with nearly five decades of pipe disrepair and a city with a 24% poverty rate looking for explanations: How can the poorest among us pay the greatest price for clean water?
This is not just happening in Baltimore - city after city across the United States is faced with the sobering reality that the sheer lack of priority placed on infrastructure maintenance has led to water rates doubling and tripling in a matter of years. With no federal assistance support structure in place like its energy cousin, individuals have faced water shut-off, property liens, and even evictions due to water debt that they just cannot pay.
This problem became our mission. Madeleine, as a professional engineer, saw water as a scarcity through her time in the Peace Corp. We do not want any family in the United States to face water shut-off due to hardship - the repercussions are too great. Investing in families, giving them support and some relief from the enormous weight of water debt, means investing in the future of our communities.
The story of my family started in Pacentro, Italy and it is only through the sacrifices of Carlo, Maria, Bruno, Alberina, Carlo, Anna Maria, David, and Rita that any successes of mine were possible. It is time to pay it forward and give all our communities a chance to do more than to survive - they should thrive.