Real People: Clean water ministry is Johns Creek man’s mission

As a member of his church’s mission outreach for 10 years, Dan Blevins has brought clothes, food and supplies to 16 impoverished areas in Kenya, Nigeria and Lebanon. It also made the Johns Creek resident realize that there’s one thing those communities need above everything else: clean water.

“The trips I took with Mt. Pisgah church made me aware of all the problems people have getting water purified,” said the retired Dow Chemical chemist. “In 2007, I was researching ways to help a missionary we support in the Philippines. He works with people making handmade papers, and they wanted a way to purify their waste water. That’s when the light bulb went on.”

Blevins hit on the idea of using a simple 12-volt battery and table salt to get the job done.

“It’s great because, if you’re got salt and a battery you can recharge, even remote tribes can have chlorinated water,” he said. “That was when we saw a great opportunity to start a water purification ministry.”

Through that ministry, Blevins kept hearing about another organization with the same goal of getting clean water to places where it’s scarce. About six months ago, he connected with Water@Work, a northside-based nonprofit dedicated to bringing clean water to developing countries in sustainable ways.

“I was very interested in they way they’re working on problems, specifically in the Dominican Republic,” said Blevins. “They’re been working with a local church to make clean water a microbusiness to raise health standards for the community. The goal is not just community development, but to help them with infrastructure.”

Blevins got his church behind the organization, and they donated $12,000 to Water@Work’s Dominican project. He became such a vocal supporter of the group that they recently asked him to take a more hands-on role.

“Within a week of them asking, I was going to meetings and became the operations director,” he said with a laugh. “It’s a natural fit; they’re really doing what I want to do, too.”

Tom Flaim, who founded Water@Work more than a year ago, was impressed with Blevins on several levels.

“First of all, he’s a chemist, and he knows water,” said Flaim. “He’s been in developing worlds and is experienced working there. And quite frankly, he has a deep faith in God. We are a Christian organization, so that was important. The bottom line was he was looking for a way to serve, and having him here is a really good fit.”

The volunteer position doesn’t seem like a second career, though Blevins admits he’s spending a lot of time working at it.

“I’m always doing something, but this project is getting my full attention; I’m really clearing the decks to work on it,” he said.

One of the things he’s working on is a visit to the Dominican Republic in January to see first-hand how Water@Work benefits the population there.

“I really want to visit and meet the people,” he said. “And this will give me the chance to see how an idea is working out.”

Every other Wednesday, H.M. Cauley brings you positive stories from our community. To suggest a story idea, e-mail