Doc Hendley

‘Wine to Water’ Again Selected as Hartwick New Student Read

September 19, 2017

For the fourth consecutive time, Wine to Water, Doc Hendley’s seminal book about the world’s fresh water crisis, has been selected as the Hartwick College New Student Read.

On Wednesday, September 20, Hendley will again visit the Hartwick campus for a presentation, book signing, and meetings with select students. At 7:30 p.m., he will speak to the new class (first-year and transfer students) in Binder Physical Education Center’s Lambros Arena about his humanitarian experiences in helping people who lack access to clean water and sanitation worldwide. The lecture is free and open to the public.

Wine to Water tells the captivating story of one man who is changing the world through clean water. Hendley – a small-town bartender – became inspired to do something about the world’s water crisis when he learned that 1.1 billion people worldwide lack access to clean water, and that unclean water is the number one killer of children in the world. In 2004, he launched a series of wine-tasting events to raise funds for clean-water projects and to bring awareness to the world’s freshwater crisis. He planned to donate the proceeds through traditional channels, but found himself instead traveling to one of the world’s most dangerous hot spots – Darfur, Sudan – where he began installing water systems for victims of the government-supported genocide.

Today, Hendley is founder and president of the Wine to Water organization.

Hendley’s work has had a profound effect on the Hartwick community since it was introduced four years ago.

Last March, for example, eight students traveled on a service-based trip to the Dominican Republic, accompanied by Associate Director of Student Success Ann-Lis Glenn and Professor of Political Science Amy Forster-Rothbart as advisors. The trip was a one-credit component to the latter’s “Water and Human Rights at Home and Abroad” interdisciplinary course that was offered in Spring Term.

Kelsie Costello ’17 worked with Wine to Water’s staff to prepare for water assessment research, which she completed during a J Term 2017 trip to Thailand. Nobel Htoo ’18 met with Hendley and Wine to Water CEO David Cuthbert during their visit last year. Since then they have been working together to support her in a water assessment project in Burma, which she completed this summer. She is currently preparing another water project proposal, with help from engineers and potential ground partners, that she will present to Doc when he visits campus.

Since introducing the work to Hartwick students, the College also started a Wine to Water club, which was ultimately named an official chapter of the non-profit organization. This academic year, the club is:

  • hosting a “Water Walk” this Sunday, September 24, from noon to 4 p.m. on Frisbee Field, giving students the experience of what it is like to carry water jugs for long distances,
  • hosting a fundraising event at Stella Luna Ristorante in Oneonta during True Blue Weekend, and
  • planning two service-based trips in March 2018, one to the Dominican Republic, another to Nepal.

“Doc’s inspirational story demonstrates how one person can impact and change the lives of many,” said Dean of Student Success Robin Diana. “This is our fourth and final year having new students read Wine to Water. All of our students, from senior to first-year students, shared a common experience by reading Wine to Water and engaging in lively discussions about passion and purpose, values, resilience, motivation, and goal setting. Although the common read will change, Doc’s impact on our students will continue with our Wine to Water Club, alternative spring break trips, and internships for our students with the organization. What started as a one-year new-student read became more than we imagined.”

In 2009, Hendley was named one of the Top 10 CNN Heroes for his compassionate work.

Through three years of ’Wick 101 – the common course new students take in their first term – the New Student Read program is designed to provide a framework for dialogue that connects students in a thoughtful way with instructors, ’Wick 101 classmates, and fellow students. The New Student Read serves as the required text and provides an opportunity for students to discuss and reflect on themes of purpose, passion, and personal mission as they make critical decisions during college and beyond.

The ‘Wick 101 curriculum is designed around Wine to Water’s theme, encouraging students to find passion and purpose in life while at Hartwick College.

“This became so much more for our campus than just a first-year read,” Diana added. “We all have been moved by Doc’s journey to learn more and do more.”

Students from Gilbertsville-Mt. Upton Central School will also attend Hendley’s lecture, after which members of Hartwick’s club will visit the school to facilitate discussion about the book.

“Wine to Water: How One Man Saved Himself While Trying to Save the World”
Wednesday, September 20, 2017
7:30 p.m.
Lambros Arena, Binder Physical Education Center
The presentation is free and open to the public.

For more information, contact Glenn at or 607-431-4744.