Dr. Kassi Duncan Marshall attended Alice Lloyd College until 2000, and then went on to medical school at the University of Louisville. Kassi says that Alice Lloyd and June Buchanan’s sacrifices and beliefs in the people of Appalachia, especially those in Eastern Kentucky, gave so much hope and opportunity to herself and others that have attended ALC. The recent flooding in Eastern Kentucky calls for new challenges, where believing in God, community, and each other is essential to overcoming this tragedy. Through her faith in God and her belief in others, Dr. Kassi Marshall has found herself leading a relief effort right here at home.
Water With Blessings is a non-profit organization that originated in October 2011. It has served 48 countries through mission trips and has now started serving Eastern Kentucky. The organization has partnered with Sawyer water filters to bring clean, safe drinking water to people in regions with poor water infrastructure.
Dr. Marshall explains that the program is primarily aimed at helping women in areas such as Honduras with poor water quality that leads to death in their children. In Haiti, for example, cholera is endemic in infants. According to Dr. Marshall, cholera was eradicated after communities received filters from Water With Blessings. The clean drinking water provided by these setups helps communities be healthier and safer for years.
The way it works is simple: a Sawyer water filter is paired with a bucket provided by Water With Blessings, then the bucket is filled with unsafe water, and gravity forces the water out through the filter where the now clean, safe drinking water can be collected. After running three to five gallons of water through the filter, the filter needs to be disconnected and cleaned depending on how dirty the water is. A simple snap at the disconnect separates the filter from the bucket. Then, using the syringe provided with the bucket and filter, the filter is back-flushed to clean it out. Snapping the hose back onto the bucket finishes the process.
Dr. Marshall explains that a single filter can filter five gallons of water in 30 minutes and will last up to 3 million gallons if properly cared for. When Water With Blessings gives away a bucket and filter, they train recipients on how to use and care for the device. The first filter is free, and so long as it is taken care of, it can last a lifetime.
Dr. Marshall became involved in Water With Blessings after her high school friend reached out to her in the aftermath of the flood, encouraging her to contact the organization. Anxious to learn more, Dr. Marshall called her pastor, who informed her that the organization had reached out to him already and would be bringing him a filter. After encouragement and prayer, Dr. Marshall contacted Water With Blessings and committed to a more significant program.
After receiving her filter and seeing how beneficial it was, Dr. Marshall knew she had to help get filters to everyone she could in Eastern Kentucky. She became the Lead Coordinator for Water With Blessings in Eastern Kentucky. After the flood destroyed the water infrastructure in the region, it was essential to make safe water available quickly.
Bottled water was the go-to initially, but it was hard to transport across broken bridges. When it sat in pallets in the sun, it became increasingly unsafe as well. The buckets and filters are easier to transport, easy to use, and allow flood victims to get water from creeks since most of the region either had no water or was under a boiled water advisory.
Dr. Marshall stated that regular creek water is actually safer than bottled water and says the filters are EPA certified. Viruses that the filter could miss would become unstable quickly outside of a host and likely clump together large enough that the filter would catch them anyway, making this a very safe system.
Dr. Marshall and her assistants have handed out over 300 buckets and filters, and they plan on handing out thousands more. Water With Blessings hopes to reach as many homes as possible to combat unsafe water and the health concerns it causes.
It is Dr. Marshall’s conviction that the program needs prayers, most importantly, but they also need food grade, three-five gallon buckets. If you would like to donate a bucket or request a filter, you can contact Dr. Marshall on her Facebook page. To learn more about Water With Blessings, go to their website: https://waterwithblessings.org/.
Dr. Marshall and her family recently relocated to the ALC campus as her husband, Charles, assumed the position of Vice President for Academic Affairs and Academic Dean. It is clear that the Marshalls have found their purpose as servant leaders in Eastern Kentucky.