March 17, 2013

How to Build a Well with Your First Car*

*with the funds from selling your first (or any) car, item, or service.

Mind if I share something REALLY exciting with you?

Before we begin today's storytime, please note: I'm not sharing this for kudos of any kind! The old "I'm the faucet, God's the water" analogy fits, well, perfectly here.

Okay. Now we're ready. 

Here's the story of how we built a well with my first car.

A couple of months ago, my husband and I sold my first car, a 1998 Jeep Grand Cherokee. I’d had “Black Beauty” for almost 13 years, since just before my 16th birthday (thanks again, Mom and Dad!). 

For a variety of reasons (even though she was still rockin' out and in beautiful shape), it was time to let her go. I’m not one to be emotionally attached to “things,” but I knew that I couldn’t just SELL her and leave it at that. There needed to be more. 

There are plenty of ways to donate a car, but according to my research, that's not the way to go if you really want to maximize your donation. There are plenty of third party organizations whose job it is to handle the paperwork for you and make it "easy." They'll even come pick up the car for you! But then they sell it at auction (for less than you'd make selling it yourself), and take a commission before giving the proceeds to your organization.

That wasn't the best option for us.

I realized the solution would be to sell her ourselves, then donate whatever we made from the sale. I used all the sales and communication skills I've got to create the perfect Craigslist post. {Fun fact: I started drafting a listing for the Jeep years ago. I knew it was coming one day. But every time I revised it, I convinced myself how great she was, reinforcing that I wasn't ready to sell her yet!}

The next step was to find the right organization to partner with.

Holden Uganda
Enter Holden Uganda Foundation, an amazing water organization founded by my sister-in-law’s college friend and her husband.

Sarah and Chet Erwin founded this organization shortly after losing their son Holden at 38 weeks gestation. Their initial goal was to build just nine wells, one for each month he was alive on earth. They’ve now built over 100. Holden’s story had always been in the back of my mind.

When I went to the website and watched this video, I saw the dire yet SIMPLE need for water these people face. I cried my eyeballs out. I knew this was a match!

Our last day together. YES, I took pictures.
Within days of posting (what I'll go ahead and say was a pretty great Craigslist ad), we found a PERFECT family to buy the Jeep. Like my husband, he’s in the military. He’d just returned from another tour in Afghanistan and happened upon my Craigslist ad while waiting at the airport.

They had three little girls and needed a second car to drive around the island. They appreciated what great condition we’d kept “her” in, and were happy to pay the exact listing price. No negotiating needed.  (When does THAT happen in a Craigslist sale?!) I told them what we planned to do with the funds, and they were excited to be a part of it. (Told you they were the perfect buyers!)

We made the transaction, sent the check to Snyder, Texas on January 31st, and yesterday, less than two months later, Sarah sent me the most exciting email of my life.

The Kaleke well, our well, is now complete, providing fresh water for 1,300 people in Uganda.  

Is that crazy or WHAT?!?!!(!!!)

It's ah-mazing to see the smiling faces of our brothers and sisters in Uganda with that beautiful clear H2O and think we played a tiny part in making it possible for them. We take our water for granted, but it is such a precious resource.

For example, did you know that approximately 1.8 million children die each year as a result of diseases caused by unclean water and poor sanitation? That's 5,000 per day.

It's heartbreaking. 

But that doesn't mean we have the right to tune it out and ignore the problem.

I wanted to share this to publicly thank the sweet Lord (and the Holden Uganda family!) for the opportunity to serve like this, and hopefully to inspire you to give how and where you can. You see, my husband's enlisted in the military, and I work part-time for the government. We're not rolling in the dough over here, people.

Please don't read this and think, "One day when I have enough to give...."

You DO have enough to give. The fact that you're even reading this blog post from a computer or smart phone or wherever you are with internet access is have enough to give.

We chose to list Hebrews 10:24 on our first well because a) 10/24 is a special day in this house, and b) its message says it all:

"And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds."

Being a part of this is such a crazy and humbling thrill, friends. And that's because we were CREATED for this stuff!

Hawaii's Jr. HUF Spokesman ;)
This first well won't be our last.

This experience has inspired me to donate at least 5% of my (future!) business to Holden Uganda Foundation and other organizations that have my heart. My clients will get to pick who they want to support through our work together. I cannot WAIT.

I hope that reading this story makes your heart happy and inspires you to give too. Every little bit helps. And if you're feeling a tug on your heart as you read this, I think that means you're ready to find your little bit.

Trust me:

You have enough to give. 

Here's how.

  1. Don't ignore it. Find more water facts at and other water sites like, and
  2. Conserve water. Appreciate it for the precious resource it is. Turn off the faucet when you're not using it, take shorter showers, use every drop you know. Hippie stuff! ;)
  3. Spread the word. If our story got you thinkin', please share it with your family, friends, and colleagues who might get to thinkin' too. Thinkin' could lead to doin'. 
  4. Get involved! Start contributing to a well of your own, or help another family finish theirs! Visit to learn more about how you can work with their amazing organization and help get fresh water to the people of Uganda. (Tell 'em the Browns sent you!)

What's your favorite non-profit organization and why? What's your favorite way to serve others, either here in your own neighborhood or across the world? Please tell me here in the comments. I'm always on the lookout!

P.S.  This post is not related to my business, which is about helping bright entrepreneurs attract their dream clients, one brilliant message at a time. HOWEV - if you like my writing and want help with your own, sign up for free tips at!

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