You probably know the name Doc Hendley ’04 by now, but just in case: He’s the founder of Wine to Water, a faith-based nonprofit that installs running water and sanitation systems in the neediest parts of the world, and he’s one of the 10 finalists you can vote for to be named CNN’s 2009 Hero of the Year. Voting for that ends Wednesday, and the winner will be announced Thanksgiving Day at 9 p.m. during a live telecast on CNN. So, vote! And, keep voting.
We first reported on the work that Doc is doing on our blog in May. We spoke with him by phone for a few minutes Monday; and after the jump is a Q&A with him about how his life and his organization have changed since he was named a finalist for CNN’s Hero of the Year.
How did you find out you were a finalist for CNN’s 2009 Hero of the Year?
I found out a couple of days before they announced it on Oct. 1. They called and told me. I ran off the road when I found out. I didn’t expect it at all.
How has your life changed since you were named a CNN Hero?
I’ve been all over the place, and I try to jump on any interview. It has been exhausting, and it’s definitely been the busiest few weeks in my life. It’s good, though, because all of this benefits the organization.
What effect has the attention had on Wine to Water?
It has been huge for us. Public relations (PR) is crucial to any business or organization, and this type of positive PR you can’t buy with money. It’s just been a huge blessing. We haven’t seen so much a direct increase in donations at the moment, but we think that will come after Thanksgiving. What’s actually gone up, which will turn into donations, though, is that there are a lot more people wanting to host wine events for us in their homes and restaurants. And that’s really where we’ve been trying to grow as an organization, trying to help others feel involved by having them host an event. So instead of just writing a check for $50 or $100, if they were to get 15 to 20 friends together at home and have a wine event, then they could do a lot more than they can do on their own.
You say the attention has been exhausting, so what keeps you going?
The water. I went down two or three weeks ago to [Peru] to do more filming with CNN. We’ve been digging a well for an orphanage there, and we were able to give filters to a whole village while I was down there. So the water work we’ve been able to do and will be able to do as a result of all of this is what’s keep me going.
What future plans do you have for Wine to Water?
We’re watching to see what happens. If we get enough votes to win this thing, it would be huge for us. I just don’t know how much we’ll need to grow if that will happen. If we don’t win, just being in the Top 10 is stilla huge growth opportunity, according to all the organizations involved last year. So we’re trying to sit and wait, but it’ll probably mean we’ll grow and bring more workers on and have more volunteers.
Anything else to add?
We’re trying to encourage anybody who can to get on and vote. It takes only 2 to 3 seconds to cast a vote. Instead of voting just once or twice, if they would sit and take 10 minutes out of their day to vote a few times, that would be huge for us.
Below is video that the NC State Web Communications team shot of a rally for Doc during Homecoming a couple of weeks ago.
(Photo courtesy of Doc Hendley ’04)