CH2M HILL’s Katie Chamberlain is the New England Water Works Association Water For People Committee Chair and an avid volunteer with WFP. She delivered the keynote address at the Kenneth J. Miller Founders’ Awards Luncheon today to recognize WFP sponsors and volunteers, as part of AWWA’s ACE conference in Boston.

By: Katie Chamberlain, CH2M HILL professional engineer and New England Water Works Association Water For People Committee Chair and Volunteer

Katie Chamberlain delivered the keynote address at Water For People’s Kenneth J. Miller Founders’ Awards Luncheon to recognize volunteers on Monday, June 9 during the American Water Works Association Annual Conference and Exposition (ACE14).

Water For People (WFP) has made it their mission to support Everyone, Forever. This mission is something I have connected with on a personal level, along with the thousands of other volunteers and sponsors who have subscribed to the idea of working towards a world where everyone has access to safe drinking water and improved sanitation facilities forever.

Katie Chamberlain on her World Water Corp volunteer trip with Water For Pople.

I first learned about WFP through my involvement with AWWA many years ago, and since, I have been volunteering with WFP in varying capacities. When I began working at CH2M HILL, I learned more about WFP through our firm’s annual workplace giving campaign, in which our employees raise money to support WFP’s mission. About 7 years ago, I started volunteering as a committee member, and over the years have helped organize WFP fundraisers, such as softball tournaments to galas and more, for both the Rocky Mountain and New England sections of AWWA. Currently, I am the New England Water Works Association WFP Committee Chair, which afforded me the opportunity to take part in the World Water Corps volunteer trip to India last April, where a group of volunteers visited dozens of communities as part of the “India Forever Study.” The study was initiated to gather data on the strengths, weaknesses, and gaps of projects implemented in different communities throughout India.

I have found through my volunteer work with WFP that I am able to use my technical skills to help others in a way that is not easily achievable as a dorky engineer working out of my ergonomic office in downtown Boston. Being able to say that I have helped to provide safe drinking water to individuals in less privileged parts of the world, where they may have never had reliable access to water or sanitation before provides a feeling of satisfaction that simply cannot be achieved in my day-to-day job. I value what WFP stands for and particularly liked their strategies for supporting communities in a sustainable way and how they encourage stakeholder commitment is critical to the successful outcome of the project. I appreciate that WFP does not rely solely upon outsiders to design and build complex technical solutions to seemingly simple problems, but instead, they ensure that sustainable long-term solutions are implemented in such a way that they can be maintained by the local communities themselves.

Despite the demands of balancing work and home activities, I find that volunteering is exceptionally rewarding. Just like many of the volunteers recognized at the luncheon today, I keep coming back for more. When I start to feel burned out or ask myself if I really have any more time to give, I remind myself and reevaluate why I volunteer in the first place. It’s not just about supporting a good cause, but more importantly, we volunteer and give our gift of time because it’s something personally important to us that fulfills our lives.

I would like to congratulate all of the volunteers being recognized at today’s luncheon and hope to see a good turnout for the WFP Change the Game Bash tonight being held at The Whiskey Priest Bar and Grill. (Tickets can be purchased at the door, which opens at 8 p.m.)

Katie Chamberlain is a professional engineer at CH2M HILL. She is located in the firm’s Boston, Massachusetts office.