Wine To Water


About Wine To Water

Wine To Water’s US staff, although small in number, shares a huge passion for bringing clean water to folks in need. Our passion unites us and brings us joy as we work with our local partners on the ground. Wine To Water has worked in 25 countries, 11 of which are ongoing projects, and have provided clean water to over 500,000 people since our inception. We find it a privilege to currently work in 5 regions (The Amazon, Dominican Republic/Haiti, East Africa, Nepal and Cambodia) to support over 30 international aid workers on 4 continents, as we all work hard to fight this epidemic together.

Our Mission

Wine To Water is committed to serving in community to provide water to those in need.

What We Do

Each project is unique, but the common theme is that we use local people in each country. We develop leaders in the community and educate them on proper water and sanitation methods to promote sustainability. Our work empowers the local community to help them meet their ongoing needs.

With every project, the common thread in our work is

ensuring that the proper type of water system is used for each specific community.

Our methods include shallow & deep wells, well repairs, ceramic water filters, bio-sand filters, Sawyer filters, and rain-water harvest tanks.

We also improve sanitation using latrine and hygiene education.

We use local materials whenever possible.

We monitor and report on all our projects.

We are constantly developing our programs and striving for more efficient systems.

We have water projects in 25 countries

Belize, Costa Rica, Democratic Republic of Congo, Dominican Republic, Cambodia, Colombia, Brazil, Ecuador, Ethiopia, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, India, Kenya, Nepal, Peru, Philippines, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Syria, Uganda, United States, Vietnam, Zimbabwe

How We Began

Doc Hendley is the founder and international president of Wine To Water. In 2003 he dreamed up the concept of the organization while bartending and playing music in nightclubs around Raleigh, North Carolina. The first fundraiser was held in January of 2004 and by August of that year, Doc was living in Darfur, Sudan installing water systems for victims of the government supporting genocide. When Doc returned home in August of 2005, the haunting memories of what he had seen in Darfur drove him to continue building the organization he had started two years earlier.

In 2007, Wine To Water became an official 501(c)3 non-profit. In 2009, Doc and the work of the Wine To Water team was recognized by the CNN Heros program, launching the organization’s efforts globally. Doc’s dream, and the goal of Wine To Water, is to quench the thirst of those in need.

(From Left to Right: David Schroeder, Doc Hendley, Shane Hillman, David Cuthbert, Madi Barker, Lisa Merritt, Kyle Lomax, Josh Elliott, and Katy Cook)

Meet the Wine To Water Team

David Cuthbert

David is a former Navy Special Operations Officer and currently serves as the CEO. He joined WTW in September 2014, inspired by its team and purpose to serve others. He loves to be a part of a team committed to doing something great.

Lisa Merritt

Lisa currently lives in Raleigh, NC and serves as the Director of Volunteer Programs. She has been coordinating volunteers internationally since 2005 and is passionate about connecting people to service opportunities around the world, while exposing them to the global water crisis.

Josh Elliott

Josh began volunteering with WTW as a student in 2009. He started the first WTW Student Chapter at Appalachian State University. Previously filling other vital roles in the organization, he is now the International Operations Director.

Katy Cook

Katy is a native to Boone, NC and graduated from Appalachian State University with a degree in Public Relations, Nonprofit Management. She first began volunteering with Wine To Water in high school and is one of our longest-serving supporters. With a passion to organize and create efficient systems, she came on staff in April 2015 as the Administrative Director.

Madi Barker

After interning as the Operations Intern during her final semester at Appalachian State University, Madi accepted the offer to come on board as the Development Manager. She works primarily to empower our professional chapters across the country to engage their communities in serving those in need. She is passionate about understanding others and finding ways to connect people’s strengths and skills to transform lives with clean water.

David Schroeder

After finishing an MFA at NYU, David worked in film and video production in New York until joining another local non-profit as a Broadcast Producer. Now, as Wine To Water’s Communications Director, David has an opportunity to tell the story of the incredible work that our organization’s community has done around the world by strategically leveraging media tools to reach individuals. David is also currently pursuing a MS degree in Integrated Marketing at Northwestern University. More importantly, David was recently married to the love of his life, Jennifer.

Shane Hillman

Shane started working with Wine To Water in the fall of 2015 as the Program Development Manager. In addition to helping maintain international operations, Shane is our personal chocolatier and loves making healthy, organic Community Well chocolate to raise funds for water projects.

Sarah Herbert

Sarah first heard about Wine To Water as a college student at Appalachian State University. After graduating, she kept tabs on the organization, and when she ended up back in Boone years later working at ASU as an office manager, she got in contact with the volunteer director, Lisa Merritt, asking how to get involved. After interning for a year with the volunteer program on top of working her full time job, Sarah made the move to join WTW full time as the Intern Coordinator. She has a passion for helping others succeed in what they are doing and enjoys using her organizational skills and love for college students to fight the water crisis.

Tina Owen

Tina has worked with incredible non-profits around the globe and in North Carolina. She recently volunteered in the Dominican Republic with Wine To Water for five months as part of a family sabbatical with her husband and three teenage children. Having lived in rural Africa, Central America, and the Dominican Republic; she is passionate about building partnerships and leveraging resources so together we can be part of community transformation in our own neighborhoods and around the world. She now serves as the Director of Grants and Fund Development for Wine To Water.

Kaylie Kushmer

Kaylie was born and spent the majority of her life in Tampa, FL and found out about Wine To Water through a Just One Shift event there. She served in the Amazon with WTW in the fall of 2014 and her heart and global perspective was forever changed. She created the Tampa chapter of WTW in March of 2015, took another volunteer trip to the Dominican Republic in October of 2015 and has held fundraisers to support the clean water missions. With a very diverse background focused on building relationships, she has recently come on board the WTW staff as the Volunteer Program Coordinator. She will be leading trips into the field as she helps grow this integral part of the organization.

The Global Water Crisis

Out of the 6.7 billion people on earth, 2.4 billion lack access to basic sanitation and 663 million lack access to clean water. Every 20 seconds a child dies of a waterborne illness and 443 million school days are lost each year from water related illnesses.

Since 2004, Wine To Water has provided over 500,000 people with access to clean water.

A Letter from the Director of Volunteer Programs


We are excited that you have chosen to serve with Wine To Water as an international volunteer! This is going to be a great experience with much learning and adventure around every corner. If you’re reading this Guidebook, you have probably already jumped through our application hoops and requirements, so congratulations! Now, it’s time to select your service project and start preparing for your journey.

Wine To Water service trips offer a wide range of experience levels so you can get your feet wet (or dive right in!). For first-time volunteers, we recommend serving in the Dominican Republic, where you will have first-hand experience building and distributing water filters to locals in need. Those of you eager for a more daring adventure may prefer a trip to Uganda, experiencing the African safari, or in South America on the Amazon river, working in remote jungle communities.

We must emphasize that Wine To Water service-trips are NOT a vacation. We expect you to come ready to serve, get your hands dirty, and work hard for the duration of the trip. Your tasks will include community development and water projects, and you will be working directly with our ground partners throughout your service experience. All volunteers should keep in mind that they are not superheroes flying into these villages to save lives. By working alonside locals and maintaining partnerships, we are able to provide sustainable clean water and educational resources.

As an international traveler, there is a lot to consider before boarding your flight. The first thing to keep in mind is that you are about to enter into a completely different culture than what you’re used to. Different doesn’t mean bad or wrong, it simply means different. You will experience a different language, different foods, different environments and different customs from the locals. While, traveling we ask that you keep in mind that you are a visitor in their country and have the mindset of a learner. It’s key to be very flexible on a volunteer trip and have a positive attitude as you experience all new things. Many times the hosts and nationals will do things differntly than Westerners and it’s important to submit to their leadership, even if you do not fully understand the reasoning behind it.

This Guidebook has a step-by-step list of tasks to complete before your trip. It is your responsibility to complete all of these tasks and to familiarize yourself with the tips and policies in this Guidebook, along with all the other materials provided to you, very carefully.

We are so excited to have you on board as a volunteer for an international service trip with Wine To Water. Your trip is going to be a fun, action-packed and humbling adventure. We hope that this Guidebook is helpful preparing you for your trip and answers your questions before you depart. Please email Lisa Merritt with any questions at

Thank you for being willing to serve, for getting out of your comfort zone, for raising money to provide clean water around the world, and for caring enough to come help us. We are so glad you’ve decided to join us! Welcome to the Wine To Water Team!

Lisa Merritt

Director of Volunteer Programs



1. Apply on our Volunteer Application.

2. Once accepted, decide on the country in which you want to volunteer. (Cambodia, Amazon, Dominican Republic, Uganda, Honduras, Nepal)

3. Decide on the best dates for your desired country.

4. Register for your trip HERE.

5. Start raising money and awareness for your trip! Begin your campaign with GiveEffect HERE.

a. After creating your own campaign page under your desired trip, you can share it online to raise donations from family and friends!

b. Donations can also be made by check. Please make all checks payable to Wine To Water and personally collect them before sending them into us. When you have the full amount raised, write “Volunteer in YOUR COUNTRY-YOUR NAME” on the memo line of each check and mail it to: Wine To Water-Volunteer Programs/ PO Box 2567/ Boone, NC 28607.

6. Obtain all necessary travel documents (passports and visas).

a. Many times the airlines will not allow you to travel if your passport only has 6 months before expiration.

b. Apply for a visa, if it is required for your trip.

7. Obtain all necessary travel immunizations and vaccines for your specified area of travel.

a. These are listed in the Information Books, but we encourage you to check with your doctor or Governmental Travel Department for required AND recommended medicines.

8. Have your entire payment uploaded on your WTW GiveEffect Campaign page NO LATER THAN 60 DAYS PRIOR to your departure date.

a. This means any time between when you have been accepted and the 60-day mark.

b. All major credit cards are accepted (Visa, Mastercard, Discover, AMX).

c. You may send a check to the main WTW office, but cards are preferred. Checks must be in our office by the 60-day mark.

9. Check with the Volunteer Coordinator before making your flight arrangements, but once you have received confirmation to purchase your flight, submit your flight information HERE.

Look over all resources given by this Guidebook, as well as the additional resources (i.e. InfoBook, Websites, and Travel Advice).

If you have any questions or concerns, feel free to contact us at: | 0: 828.355.9655 | c: 770.851.4132

*Email if you are interested in the donations list or creating a children’s program*


Things to have on the plane:

  1. Passport/Visa
  2. Copy of your Passport/Visa in another location
  3. Site contact info: name, phone number, and address
  4. Personal medications
  5. Camera (optional)
  6. Form of entertainment (e.g. book, music, mind games)

Things (suggested) to have in your suitcase:

  1. Work clothes (pants recommended due to mosquitos)
  2. Work gloves
  3. Shorts
  4. Church outfit (cover shoulders & knees, and closed-toed shoes)
  5. Warm jacket
  6. Bible
  7. Notebook
  8. Reusable water bottle
  9. Head-lamp
  10. Closed-toed work shoes (tennis shoes are fine)
  11. Sunscreen/Aloe
  12. Mosquito Repellant
  13. Beach Towel (if applicable)
  14. Hat
  15. Rain Coat
  16. Gatorade powder
  17. Snacks-energy bars, beef jerky, etc.
  18. You do not need to bring bedding or towels, those will all be provided for you in most locations, but check the Information Book for site-specific info.


There are 5 main responsibilities of all participants:

1. Be Respectful

a. We are very blessed to be given the opportunity to travel and work with this organization and country.

b. Not only does this apply to the people you are traveling with, but to the people of the country. Be culturally sensitive. Be respectful towards the way they live their lives. Listen more, talk less.

2. Be Flexible

a. When dealing with international trips, it is hard to have every detail planned out. Be ready for the unexpected, because plans will change!

b. Be spontaneous! Live in the moment and be excited!

3. Educate Yourself

a. About Wine To Water

b. About the Partnering Organization

c. About the Water Crisis in the World

d. About the Country

4. Get Outside Your Comfort Zone

a. Be adventurous and open-minded to try new things

b. Don’t be Afraid to Experiment

c. Take a Chance to Do Something Different

5. Have Fun

a. Everything that we will be doing on this trip with be work mixed with fun. Service work is one of the best ways to meet people, form a community and share laughs.

b. Remember to smile and have fun! The experience is everything you make it to be!


Logged Hours:

If you are looking to gain some volunteer hours, spending time with the Wine To Water volunteer program is a great way to do it! We ask that you gather all required forms for logging hours and notify us of the details before departure (i.e. organization for which you need to complete logged hours). This includes gaining approval of the trip, organization, and volunteer activities that you will be participating in.

Possible Academic Credit:

If this program has the ability to help you gain class credit, we are happy to help! That being said, it is your responsibility to look over all requirements and pre-requisites before departure.

Internship Hours:

Does volunteering on a service trip with a non-profit qualify me to get internship credit? WE THINK SO! As long as our program meets the requirements for your institution, wethink that a hands-on experience is the best kind of internship.



There are many additional benefits that an individual or group can receive from a program of this nature. The opportunity to travel the world and be immersed into a new culture opens numerous amounts of doors. Here is a small list of things an experience list this can give you:

  1. Global Networking
  2. Increased sense of responsibility
  3. Actual hands-on experience
  4. Education on world’s water crisis
  5. Developing your people skills
  6. Learning how to be flexible to change
  7. Enriching your education in culture and skills
  8. And many more!


Paying for the trip:

A $25o non-refundable deposit should be received at the time of registration. The remaining balance of your trip total must be at the WTW office, NO LATER THAN 60 DAYS PRIOR TO THE DEPARTURE OF YOUR TRIP. If we do not have the full payment, you will lose your reservation for that trip.


If you need to cancel for any reason, let us know ASAP!

After Registration, if you cancel:

  1. 60-days or more before departure: you may be able to receive a full-refund, minus the $250 non-refundable deposit.
  2. 59–30 days before departure: you may receive a refund up to 50% of the total cost of your trip.
  3. 30 days or later before departure: we will not reimburse ANY PORTION of the payment. We apologize in advance for any inconvieniences.
  4. Refunds are not guaranteed, but if you need to cancel, you may use those funds towards a future trip or a project within Wine To Water.

Wine To Water aims to have a minimum of 10 volunteers registered for each trip. If this number is not reached, the Volunteer Coordinator will contact you before flight arrangements are made and offer up different possibilities for you. In the event that Wine To Water must cancel a trip, the Volunteer can apply all funds towards another trip to any other time & location or be fully refunded for their trip.

Alcohol Policy:

Wine To Water does not advocate underage consumption of alcohol. That being said, if you are of age, drinking will be permitted. We do ask that if you choose to drink, you be culturally sensitive and limit your intake. If however, our ground partners have other restrictions, we expect all volunteers to abide by their regulations.

Age Requirement:

  • Individual: If you are traveling as an individual, you must be 18 years of age or older.
  • Group: Anyone age 12 and younger must be accompanied by a parent or guardian or whatever your group leader decides.

*Verify the age requirements for your country in the Information Book**

Travel Documents and Immunizations:

All participants are responsible for applying and receiving all necessary travel documents and medications for their trip. Please check the website, Information Books, and other resources given in this Guidebook for obtaining proper documents and immunizations.


The list below refers to ALL THINGS PROHIBITED on this trip:

  • Weapons of any kind (e.g. knives, guns, etc.)
  • Any illegal drugs, including marijuana or drugs without a prescription
  • Profanity or sexual comments/relationships exchanged with anyone


1. Information Books

2. Alternate websites to help with travel preparation

  • For flights- AND
  • For immunizations-
  • For travel documents-
  • For government travel info-
  • For weather-
  • Other advice-

3. Becoming a volunteer:

  • To apply as an individual, click HERE.
  • If accepted, you will need to register, click HERE.


Contact Info

Wine To Water

Lisa Merritt
Volunteer Program Director
770.851.4132. (US Cell)

David Cuthbert
President and CEO

Kaylie Kushmer
Volunteer Program Coordinator