Ten years ago, Seth Ray found himself standing in a small village in Haiti and knew his life would never be the same. “I had never been out of the country, had never seen poverty,” recalls Ray, 41. “It ruined my life.”
Ray had volunteered for a mission trip through Christ Fellowship Church in Stuart. When he and his fellow volunteers arrived in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, they were met by a local pastor who took them outside the capital city and showed them a dilapidated building that was serving as a school. Ray noticed a chained-up water well next to the school. When he questioned the pastor about it, he learned the well was broken. “I asked how much it would cost to fix it, and he said around $100,” Ray recalls. “Then I asked how many families the well would provide water for, and he told me 2,000.”
Shocked that just $100 could impact so many people, Ray took up a collection among the volunteers and quickly raised the money to fix the well. “Before then, I didn’t know there were places where clean water was a problem,” he says.
As he traveled on other mission trips, Ray realized that clean water was the catalyst to improving the lives of people in countless remote and rural communities around the world. He knew he had to find a way to bring clean water to people like those he had met in Haiti. But as a dad with four kids, he couldn’t exactly afford to leave his job to pursue his passion full-time.
That’s when fate stepped in. Just before Christmas in 2018, Ray received a phone call from a couple he had never met who were interested in learning more about his mission trips and desire to help people gain access to clean water. Apparently, a mutual friend had told the couple about Ray, and they were intrigued. They invited him to dinner, where they talked all about Ray’s passion. Ray then left town for the holidays, and when he returned home there was a letter waiting for him in the mail. He recalls: “It read, ‘We’re super proud of what you’re doing. Here’s one year’s salary.’” It was from the random couple he had just met.
He tried calling the couple, but the phone number was no longer in service. He emailed, but the message bounced back. Perplexed but extremely grateful, Ray left his job that February and set off to launch his foundation, Go.Build.Love. “I thank God for them often,” he says of the generous couple. “Go.Build.Love. is what it is today because of their investment. They gave GBL wings.”
Ray and the GBL team go into communities where clean water is not available and meet with community leaders to assess their situation, asking questions like how many homes are in the community, where their drinking water is sourced, and the health of residents. They provide the community with enough GBL water filters for every family and train community leaders on distribution of the filters and how to help families use them.
Each filter has a barcode with a GIS tracking system so GBL can collect data on the families and measure the impact of clean water on their health. The data can also be reported directly to donors. “We want to connect what we’re doing with our donors,” explains Ray. “Each month, donors get info on where their filter is and the impact it is having.”
Donors pay just $70 to provide a filter for a family. If used properly, that filter can last up to 20 years.
GBL’s mission doesn’t end with clean water. Once that need has been met, the team returns to the community to find out what else they may need to thrive. Typically, community leaders ask for vital resources like churches, schools, and clinics. GBL then raises money to fund construction of these projects. The organization also operates Rok & Wtr, a frozen treat company in Port St. Lucie, and a portion of every sale goes back to Go.Build.Love. to help fund various projects.
Now in 12 countries, Go.Build.Love. has distributed more than 10,000 water filters and brought clean water to more than 55,000 people all over the globe. This year, Ray projects his organization will distribute more than 15,000 additional filters. “I want to see communities that are actually changed,” he says. “I am trying to leave a legacy that matters.