USC grad nurtures water nonprofit she began in college

 

Kelsie Stanley with Quench volunteers
Four years after graduating, Kelsie Stanley still nurtures Quench, the nonprofit she started at USC to help bring clean water around the world. She’s got a full-time job, but with the help of current students Quench is finding ways to pay for projects in places like a Ugandan village.



By Reema Vaidya
May 1, 2018

Four years after graduating from USC’s business school, Kelsie Stanley is slowly nurturing her charity, Quench, in hopes the nonprofit she formed while in school can make a difference in solving the world’s water woes.

Quench uses college students to spread awareness about world water issues and raises money to build filtration systems in areas that need them around the world.

Stanley says that even with a full-time job working for a study-abroad company she nurtures Quench because “I strive to leave a small mark on the world by hopefully making it a little better of a place than before Quench was created.”

Quench sells its own merchandise to help raise money to bring clean water to places that don’t have it. This year’s project is in Uganda.

Stanley who now lives in Greenville, estimates she still devotes at least seven hours a week to Quench. She oversees things with calls every two weeks to Quench’s team of 10 brand ambassadors at USC.

“She has such an entrepreneurial mindset and is always determined to get things done with the highest quality of work and perseverance,” says brand ambassador Ariella Izzo, a sophomore.

The Quench World Cup intramural soccer tournament remains instrumental in helping Stanley keep Quench alive and running. She created the event as a senior and returns to USC each spring to help manage it.

This spring’s World Cup raised almost $1,400 toward the $2,000 Quench needs to bring clean water to a Ugandan village, she said.

Childhood friend Julie Ryan says Stanley has never been one to sit around and wait for solutions to problems walk by.

“When she didn’t have a car or license in high school, she would walk to her waitressing job,” Ryan says. “That’s the kind of commitment she gives to everything she does.”

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Stanley says her biggest advice for others is to try to incorporate their passion into their daily lives. Focusing on your passions help empower and excite you, she says.

Columbia Voice sat down with Stanley to talk about Quench, how she still manages to run it and her plans for it. This partial transcript has been edited for length and clarity. (Listen to the entire interview.)

When you come home after a long day at work, and you have to dedicate that hour to Quench, where does that motivation come from?

I think my motivation comes from mostly wanting to give back to people in some way.  … I feel very privileged for the life that I’ve lived. I just feel like it’s a good thing to give back, whether it’s for your community or in Quench’s sake doing something large-scale. And those days that I am tired and just want to sit on the couch, but I do take that time to work on Quench, it’s always rewarding, and I feel better after having spent the time to work on our next project, work on the website or work with the team to plan something on campus to raise money to help people. … I also really like working with the students at USC and still being involved with the USC community. … So, it’s neat even four years after having graduated to still be involved in this community even though I don’t live here anymore. …

You told me that incorporating your passion into your everyday life is rewarding. Why is it rewarding to you? …

Some of the students participating in the brand ambassadors program through Quench, they are getting credit for the program, and being their supervisor and helping them complete the credit that is going to help them get towards graduation is really rewarding. Feeling like Quench is making an impact in their life and for the lives of people that we are raising money for the projects. …

So currently Quench is raising money for filtration in Uganda. Can you tell me a little bit about that project?

Yes, so Uganda is rebuilding after two decades of civil war and is about 1.6 million people that are displaced from the civil war, and 80 percent of them are women and children. So a lot of people are still living in like refugee camps. Thirst Relief International, our partner, they have a partner called Connect Africa in Uganda that works with villages and refugee camps to bring biosand filters, what we’re raising money to provide to the village. … They already have access to water, but it is not clean, so people get sick from it, can end up in the hospital, or even passing away from waterborne illnesses. So we are just going to try and provide access to clean water so that they are not getting sick. I can’t imagine living in a refugee camp, especially with small children, so we’re just trying to make their lives a little easier.

Quench founder Kelsie Stanley, left, says she loves having close relationships with board members of the nonprofit she founded to raise money for drinking water projects in poorer areas. Stanley holds conference calls every two weeks with the team of students that includes awareness coordinator Ishani Joshi, right.

So, with a full-time job and obviously managing Quench, how do you have time to focus on yourself?

Sometimes, it’s a little hard … I mean, I also do find time to travel, spend time with my boyfriend, hang out with friends … I think you do need a work life balance, otherwise you would be really stressed, but it’s just a part of being happy and you just need to set aside that time. …

Where do you think next year’s Quench World Cup will help?

That’s a really interesting question. … We are going to meet as a team to discuss whether we want to do a project in a country that we’ve already completed a project in … but we are also going to consider people in the U.S who also lack access to clean water in some places. … We may consider trying to partner with another nonprofit. We are just going have to make that decision as a team. …

If you were celebrating something a few years from now, what do you think you’ve achieved?

I think one of the biggest accomplishment besides completing the projects and helping people is building a business that’s able to sustain itself without a ton of involvement on my side of things, and even now we have four brand ambassadors that are about to graduate in May and we already have all of their positions filled and more people that interested in joining the team. It’s just great to see USC believe in the cause. … I can step away even more. I love being involved, but I would totally be OK with Quench being more self-sustaining.

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