by Shana Gillette

Cinci water equals hope

When Brande asked me to fill in for the Water = Hope Campaign, I couldn't have been happier. Having heard about the organization from her, I know it was an outreach effort really committed to making a difference in both the U.S. and abroad.

Coming primarily from a corporate event marketing background, I'm accustom to having a 'sell' at the events I manage.  This time the 'sell' was easy - Everyone Everywhere should have access to clean drinking water.  Period.  Done.    

Day one in Cincinnati was a blast.  Kyle & Danielle were just about the cutest couple ever and we couldn't have asked for better volunteers.  Danielle, the first of 3 volunteers currently in nursing school who came out to help us this weekend was also 7 months pregnant so the fact that they were so eager and happy to help, in the heat to boot, was even that much more awesome.  We got lots of signatures and donations for the rad looking 'Water=Hope' t-shirts, and had a great time admiring everyone dressed up in their cowboy boots and hats. 

Day two in St Louis started off with a bang, literally.  At about 11 a.m., with ominous skies looming, we received word that severe thunderstorms were on the way and a tornado had touched down somewhere nearby.  Thankfully the Paisley crew came quickly with sandbags, helping to secure the tent and belongings before everyone took shelter backstage to wait it out.  The winds were high and the rain came sideways knocking over one of our bins of t-shirts and posters but the tent survived and thanks to a dryer at the venue, we were good as new by days end. 

Erica, yet another nursing student, came out just in time to help dry everything off and truly did the work of three volunteers, getting tons of signatures to let our leaders know what an important issue this is and raising money for the cause.  With more storms in the forecast, we opted to break down a little earlier and she was invaluable helping to put everything away and just as excited as she'd been earlier in the day to help set it up.  It was truly great to meet someone like Erica and so many others so enthusiastic about supporting Water = Hope.  Once folks heard Brad supports the work we're doing, they were hooked. 

The irony of the name 'Water=Hope' didn't escape anyone as we arrived in Indianapolis on the third day to discover more rain.  Fortunately, this time it cleared up and we had a great day talking to folks about helping others around the world get access to clean water.  Sli (also in nursing school), and Jason finally broke thru traffic and got in just in time to talk to a few of the tailgaters before they came in to enjoy the show.  Having also worked Bonnaroo with Brande a couple weeks before, they noted that it seemed to be a lot easier to talk to folks about the campaign and to donate money there.  To that I say, 'C'mon Brad Paisley fans - let's show em that country fans care too!' 

Sli & Jason worked their tails off, even helping to organize all the shirts we had to dry from the storm the day before.  Lots of folks came up to the tent to ask what it was all about.  We even met one woman *pictured in red foam hat and pink shirt holding 'i helped build a well' sign* who's son actually helped to build one of those wells for real!  

In addition, four more high school student volunteers who'd helped out the year before, came back again and walked all over the venue getting yet more signatures  and introducing people to the campaign.  It was another great day for Water = Hope and it couldn't have happened without the great work of all the volunteers!  

We've got more shows coming up!  If you want to volunteer, you'll not only be working for a fantastic cause, you'll get to see a free Brad Paisley show too.  It's true!  Scroll up and check out our Volunteer page to apply.

Thanks so much to the Paisley family and all the volunteers for making this an awesome weekend!  See you in July!!