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Charity founded by Thunder Bay man is named one of Canada's 'top impact' charities (3 Photos)

The late Jim Gehrels founded Lifewater Canada in the 1990s

THUNDER BAY — Lifewater Canada, a charity founded by the late Jim Gehrels of Thunder Bay, has won national recognition from an organization that independently assesses the effectiveness of over 800 registered Canadian charities.

Charity Intellligence Canada has declared Lifewater Canada one of the top 10 impact charities in the country, for the second year in a row.

These are all frontline charities providing social services in Canada, or international programs.

Charity Intelligence says its ratings are based on "donor reporting, financial transparency, funding need, cents to the cause, and demonstrated impact."

Demonstrated impact considers the measurable return on every dollar that's donated.

Lifewater Canada received an A+ rating.

The reviewers determined it has a high impact, is financially transparent, and directs 94 cents of every donated dollar to programs, after accounting for overhead including fundraising and administrative costs.

Lifewater Canada is a volunteer-based Christian charity that works to provide affordable water and sanitation projects for people in impoverished countries.

It sends equipment and volunteer experts overseas to build wells, handpumps and water catchment systems, while simultaneously training local residents to operate the equipment.

This year, the organization has also been helping its clients with COVID-19 protocols.

Gehrels, who served as president, passed away in July of this year.

His obituary noted that starting in the mid 1990s, he dedicated his life to bringing clean water to developing countries, and founded Lifewater Canada to realize his dream.

Its unique approach to international development, the obituary stated, "required a lifetime of passionate commitment to help build capacity where the need is unimaginably great."

Gehrels was a professional hydrogeologist.

As the leader of Lifewater Canada, he oversaw the provision of life-saving clean water to hundreds of thousands of people.

The organization remains active today through the work of volunteers and staff, now under the presidency of Lynda Gehrels, who worked alongside her husband for 20 years.

She told he would have been excited by the recognition for the charity, and proud of the teams overseas whom she described as heroes working to keep safe water flowing to those in need, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic.

"All the teams have been judged an essential service. They are out there, carefully drilling and rebuilding hand pumps," Gehrels said.

She added that Charity Intelligence has a stringent rating system, so making the top 10 in Canada is extremely rewarding.

Gary Rinne

About the Author: Gary Rinne

Born and raised in Thunder Bay, Gary started part-time at Tbnewswatch in 2016 after retiring from the CBC
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