They’ve Donated Millions of Cans of Water To Communities Post-Disaster

Meet Can’d Aid, An Org Fueled By People Power

As promised, we don’t just deliver disastrous water news, we also donate to organizations making a difference for communities. Today, we want to introduce you to Can’d Aid, an organization we’re proud to support.

Can’d Aid rallies volunteers from all walks of life to build thriving communities. Through their unique and integrated approach, they distribute water, provide access and opportunities for underserved youth to experience music, arts and the outdoors; and protect and restore the environment.

When a community is facing unclean drinking water conditions, they team up with Ball Corporation, Oskar Blues Brewery, and Sleeping Giant Brewing to distribute water to families in need.

They have donated water to families in need in the Navajo Nation, Flint, Michigan, Texas, and across the U.S. and Puerto Rico. In 2016, heavy rains flooded countless homes in Baton Rouge, leaving many families displaced, so Can’d Aid rallied volunteers to help rip out dry wall and muck and gut devastated homes. They also organize local clean-up events for public rivers and trail systems.

Pretty cool, right?

A Passionate Do-Gooder

We spoke with Can’d Aid’s executive director, Diana Ralston to learn more about the organization and get inspired by her creativity and commitment to do good.

Tell us more about Can'd Aid and why you are so passionate about this work.

Diana: Can’d Aid is firmly rooted in the belief that everyone has the power, and desire, to give back and do good. That simple concept sparked an idea for me to build a truly unique organization. I wanted to combine the collaborative culture and entrepreneurial spirit I love from working in the craft beer industry with years of nonprofit experience to create something transformational. I joined forces with a long-time college friend and founder of Oskar Blues Brewery, Dale Katechis, and the concept of Can’d Aid was born.

In September of 2013, Can’d Aid was immediately propelled into action when a historic flood devastated Colorado communities, including the small town of Lyons, the birthplace of Oskar Blues. In partnership with Oskar Blues, Can’d Aid quickly mobilized—raising funds, providing resources and rallying volunteers to help Lyons’ businesses and families rebuild.

The initial success of our disaster response efforts sparked many more collaborative projects, including canning clean drinking water for communities in need and mucking and gutting homes devastated by disaster. Now a fully independent and publicly funded 501(c)3 nonprofit, Can’d Aid would never have gotten off the ground had it not been for the initial support, encouragement and funding from Dale and Oskar Blues.

Strengthened by the positive results in Lyons, we began focusing on building signature programs, designed to empower people to make a difference in their own backyard. From rallying volunteers to build bikes for at-risk youth, distributing clean drinking water, restoring trails and waterways, educating people about the importance of recycling, or partnering with Grammy award-winning musicians to provide instruments and music lessons for underserved children, Can’d Aid’s impact grew exponentially.

Now, more than seven years later, Can’d Aid continues to listen and respond quickly to evolving community needs across the United States. Our unique and integrated approach to building thriving communities has been enhanced by the support of several large companies and a rapidly growing volunteer base. Support like this allows us to create deep and meaningful impact by distributing clean drinking water, providing access and opportunities for underserved youth to music, arts and the outdoors, while working to protect and restore the environment.

Having worked in more traditional, singular focused nonprofits, I love how we’re carving out our own unique approach, which includes broad program areas and endless opportunities to dig in and make a difference in communities across the country. Internally, we’ve been calling it “entrepreneurial philanthropy,” and it allows all of us to stay engaged, pay attention to the world around us, and get creative about how we can make a positive impact.

When it comes to environmental (and community) issues, what’s the right balance between individual action and working for overall policy change?

Diana: Action starts with the individual. The passion and drive of one or two like-hearted individuals (or entities/communities) can produce powerful and efficient results, which can inspire others, and often avoids the red tape bureaucracy that slows progress down.

However, finding aligned organizations with larger platforms and influence can help advance an agenda and that power is critical to implementing lasting change. Ideally, a program should focus on both the grassroots efforts and engage local and national politicians to effect change.

What are some of your favorite words of advice?

  • Trust your gut

  • Ask for help

  • Keep your sense of humor

  • Practice gratitude and humility

  • Build a solid team

What inspires you when you feel discouraged about the state of things?

Diana: I’m a “glass is half full” optimist, but 2020 and the pandemic certainly took their toll. When I find myself overwhelmed, emotional and in a downward spiral, one or several of these tried-and-true remedies will usually get me back on track: meditation; a good cry; a long, hard mountain bike ride; a thought-provoking podcast; spending time in nature; belly-laughing with my friends.

What’s your favorite natural place: beach? mountains? park?

Diana: While I’m a mountain girl at heart, and love biking, hiking and trail running, there’s something truly grounding and magical about the rhythm of the ocean. Luckily, my daughter will be starting her freshman year at University of Hawaii at Manoa this fall, so I’ll get plenty of time in both my happy places! 😊

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Know a great non-profit helping communities clean-up water or providing water to those in need? Drop a comment below and we’ll consider them for future donations.