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South Jordan Journal

South Jordan nonprofit wins international .ORG Impact Award

Feb 09, 2024 03:07PM ● By Peri Kinder

Nicci and John Renouard of WHOlives accepted the .ORG Impact Award in Washington, D.C. The nonprofit was recognized for its work to bring clean water to millions of people. (Courtesy of Renouard)

A South Jordan nonprofit beat out nearly 1,000 organizations to win $10,000 at the .ORG Impact Awards in Washington, D.C. WHOlives was presented with the Hunger and Poverty Award after competing against applicants from more than 70 countries. 

“WHOlives shows us a better way forward,” Jen England of Food Rescue Hero said at the ceremony. “They’ve created the self-sustaining solution to bringing clean water to developing communities. To this date, this has ensured that over 12 million people across 40 countries now have access to clean water.”

John Renouard started WHOlives 13 years ago with the help of BYU engineering students. Together, they designed the Village Drill which has created 13,000 water wells in 40 countries, helping millions of people with their innovative design. 

When WHOlives made it to the final 35 in the contest, a film crew from .ORG came to the Renouard home to take some videos and interview Renouard and his wife Nicci. For the award ceremony, the couple was flown to Washington, D.C. and put up in a nice hotel with the other finalists. They participated in a dinner and mixer to meet the other organization leaders before the award ceremony. 

The D.C. ceremony was hosted by Padma Lakshmi, activist, author and host/producer of Hulu’s Taste the Nation. Renouard said when WHOlives was announced as the winner of its category, he was completely surprised. 

“We knew everybody would win something,” he said. “There was a first, second and third and I think the smallest prize was $2,500, followed by $5,000 and $10,000 if you won your category…And $10,000 might not sound like a lot to some people, but for us it’s amazing. That $10,000 turns into a lot of people that get help. When it’s $5 a person to get clean water, that means there are 2,000 people we can bring clean water to. So it really is a big deal.”

Public Interest Registry is the company that coordinates the .ORG Impact Awards. The annual program recognizes and celebrates mission-driven organizations and individuals working to make the world a better place.

Not only does WHOlives provide clean water to millions of people, but it also has created a program to rescue girls from genital mutilation and child marriage. Last year, Renouard partnered with local police precincts in Kenya to provide resources to help officers track down and arrest the criminals involved in the heinous crimes. 

“We’ve had over 65 arrests, and that’s never happened before,” he said. “People are thinking twice before they commit this hideous act with the threat of being arrested.”

More than 2,000 young girls have been rescued through WHOlives intervention. Renouard said he continues to be amazed that a small group in South Jordan has made such a difference for women, girls and people in water-poor communities. 

“We’re small but powerful, and we didn’t know we could have such an impact a world away,” he said. “It keeps us going, that’s for sure.”

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