Everyday, millions of gallons of water flow freely from our kitchen sink, shower and outdoor hoses. Turn the faucet on and there it is—safe, clean, cool water ready to drink, cook with, bathe in and enjoy in backyard pools and hot tubs throughout North America. No one really thinks of it as a luxury because most have never had to do without it as an expected convenience. But the fact is, for many around the world, it remains an elusive and unreliable resource that holds far more value than any rare gem or precious metal. That glaring disparity between the millions who do enjoy this convenience and the many more millions who do not ignited a basic, yet expansive idea that’s poised to revolutionize how Backyard Leisure Retailers conduct business in this new era of social responsibility.
Dennis Gray, an industry veteran and President of Backyard Brands™ was preparing to launch Dazzle™, an eco-friendly, “greener” pool and hot tub water care brand for Canadians everywhere, he recognized an opportunity to make an even greater impact abroad. That’s how Share the Gift of Water™ by Building One Well at a Time—a humanitarian project that both backyard leisure retailers and pool and hot tub consumers could participate in—was born. In Gray’s mind, Share the Gift of Water would bring out the best in everyone by creating a local program that served a greater, far-reaching purpose.
By early 2008, the vision for Backyard Brands and Dazzle was already crystallized—helping consumers to achieve a “greener way to blue” with earth-friendly water care products packaged in containers that would encourage recycling whenever possible. Act Two, the “raison d’être,” would come by way of Share the Gift of Water. Recognizing that a growing number of companies were beginning to shift their focus towards a higher level of social responsibility, Gray sought to align Backyard Brands with this movement by creating a program that gave everyone in the industry an opportunity to give back in a very simple way. The basic idea? Raise the funds needed to help build wells in parts of the world that don’t have our “gift” of fresh sanitized water. But bringing this effort to fruition would require the help of an experienced partner.
An avid supporter of Rotary International’s many humanitarian efforts over the years, Gray contacted their Water and Sanitation Rotarian Action Group (WASRAG) whose mission was to “…improve Life and Livelihood though the provision of Safe Water and Sanitation.” The partnership, Gray realized, was a natural one for both Backyard Brands and Rotary International. By tapping into the good will of millions of homeowners in North America who have enjoyed “the gift” of backyard leisure water and acknowledging the deep experience shared by backyard leisure retailers with building and installing pools (digging “wells”), moving water (piping and pumping), filtering and storing water (sanitizing and creating repositories), a program like Share the Gift of Water started making a lot of sense. It took what consumers and retailers love most about their pools and hot tubs to the next level—sharing a good thing in a manner that was most useful to others.
With the support of many former contacts and retailers in the industry, Gray was able to drum up enough preliminary interest to establish Share the Gift of Water as a viable program that retailers everywhere could adopt and weave into their businesses. So then, the plan was simple and made—with every purchase of a Dazzle product, pool and hot tub owners would help to raise funds needed to build wells in Africa for people who don’t have the luxury of enjoying clean drinking water. And with many retailers already establishing “Eco-Rooms” in their own stores to promote greener choices in pool and hot tub care products and supplies; Share the Gift of Water could easily fit into this socially responsible design emerging in the industry.
Share the Gift of Water, many retailers agreed, was a program that just made sense with the work they were already doing—helping to ensure safer, sparkling water. With multiple Rotary WASRAG projects already underway in places as far away as Zimbabwe and Kenya, the possibilities for Share the Gift of Water seem limitless.