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How a Family Business Teams Up With Local Charity to Provide Access to Clean Water

Dee Ray, Chief Brand Officer, FiltersFast

Dec 3. 2019 The lack of access to clean drinking water is a critical global issue. An estimated 801,000 children younger than five perish from diarrhea each year, mostly in rural parts of developing countries, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The issue isn’t confined to the developing world. An estimated 1.6 million Americans don’t have running water or indoor plumbing, according to PBS.

For family business owner Ray Scardigno, it’s a problem he is very familiar with. Frustrated by the lack of online retailers stocking water filters in 2003, Scardigno launched his own site. Today, is one of the largest online retailers of water, refrigeration and air filters.
The family-owned, Charlotte-based firm teamed up with Wine To Water, a water charity located in Boone, North Carolina, in 2011 to take these filtration solutions beyond its local community and help countless families across the world struggling with a lack of access to safe and clean water.
In this interview, the company’s chief brand officer, Dee Ray, talks about the partnership and the immense scale of the challenge.

What brought about the partnership with Wine To Water?
Our mission at is to change the way people think about and take action to purify the air and water in their homes. After learning that over two billion people in the world lack access to clean water, we knew we had to expand our mission to include helping those impacted by this global water crisis. The partnership with Wine To Water was a natural fit. Doc [Hendley, the charity’s founder] and the team are located close to us in North Carolina and we were able to meet with them to discuss how we could contribute to their important work. Our organizations are so much alike – we all have a passion and heart for the work that we do to bring awareness to the importance of clean water as a fundamental right for all people.

What are the biggest challenges of deploying these filtration systems for everyone facing a clean water shortage?
Doc and the Wine To Water team could fill in a lot of the details on the fieldwork challenges. From the perspective, the biggest challenge is understanding what type of filtration is needed in each situation and getting the right filter into the field. Wine To Water does an amazing job at that. It isn’t entirely unlike the challenges that people in the U.S. face with understanding what type of filter they need to use. It is not readily apparent when looking at your water source how clean it is. It is important to have a trusted expert as a resource to guide you to understand the level of filtration you require.

Do you have any personal stories that highlight the impact this mission has had on people’s lives in the communities you’ve approached?
Doc once told me a story that had a big impact on me. He was working in a village where the women and children had to walk many miles to a water source each day. Because of the time this took, they were unable to work, get an education, play, etc. After the team went in and repaired the well in the village, the kids were able to play for the first time. They balled up bags and kicked them around in an impromptu soccer game. This was the first time many of these children ever had time to play.
This work is not just about clean water, it is about agriculture and washing your hands and having time to play – water impacts every single aspect of your life. Water is the most basic building block of life. Giving someone the gift of clean water saves lives and has a huge impact on quality of life as well.

Besides donations, how else can ordinary business owners and investors help you in this mission?
At FiltersFast, we donate a portion of many of our product sales to Wine To Water and that is important to allow them to do the fieldwork that they do. In addition to monetary donations, Wine To Water is always looking for volunteers to build filters, work in the field, host events and spread awareness. Sharing information about the global water crisis can go a long way toward getting others involved.

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