By Mary O’KEEFE
It’s something many take for granted, yet it is vital for life – water. For most, it is no farther than the nearest faucet or bottle of water in the refrigerator. But for some, like those along Skid Row in downtown Los Angeles, just getting one 16-ounce serving of water is a daily struggle.
Some drive past Skid Row and think, “I should do something to help” and then there are some who say, “I will do something to help.” Tha=t was, and is, the case for Rob Griffith.
“We just loaded up the truck with water,” Griffith said.
Griffith is a brand representative and volunteer lead for Arrowhead Water. His office is just a few blocks from Skid Row and Griffith is not a “just drive-by” kind of guy.
“I have been doing this [volunteering and outreach] for over 25 years. I grew up a child in need and have been homeless during various periods of my life,” he said. “We [at Arrowhead] decided to take action. We are within two miles of Skid Row.”
He knows what it is like to live in shelters and knows what it is like when someone helps out. At the height of the summer heat, Griffith organized a donation drive to give water. But since this was Arrowhead, it wasn’t just a few cases that were donated; no, it was much, much more.
“We had an eight bay truck, that is eight rollup doors, with 15,000 half liter Arrowhead bottles,” Griffith said. “Six of us got into the truck and went out [to Skid Row].”
Arrowhead participates in multiple events throughout the year at a variety of venues, but at Skid Row the group just wanted to get out onto the streets and hand out water. The reception was all positive with lots of hugs and handshakes.
“The reception is the same as I saw as a child. People are overwhelmed with joy,” he said.
Griffith knows the people of Skid Row. There are those with mental illness that must be approached carefully. There are those who are addicted to drugs and alcohol, and are more susceptible to dehydration. And there are also a lot of families. A pregnant woman told him this was the first bottle of water she had all day.
It was quite a sight for those along Skid Row to see Griffith and his team pull up in a large Arrowhead truck and open the doors to reveal a truck full of water bottles.
They were so glad to see us and asked, ‘When are you coming back?’” he said. “The response was overwhelming.”
But Griffith didn’t stop with Skid Row. When he finished handing out water there, he and his team went to various shelters and missions like Midnight Mission, Union Rescue Mission and Volunteers of America. The water was not only for those in need but those who donate their time to helping the homeless.
“We gave them water and they said [our] timing was perfect. [They] had just run out of water,” he said.
In fact, all the missions were out of water for the day, so the team was particularly welcome.
Although he has been volunteering for over two decades, Griffith has been with Arrowhead for about 15 months and is now the lead volunteer due to his passion for helping others. In addition to handing out 15,000 bottles of water on Skid Row, he has organized food bank donations. The last food donation had about 35 volunteers donating 700 pounds of food. And they collected that in just two weeks of a concentrated donation period.
The company also works with WET (Water Education for Teachers), a project that travels to schools to teach kids about water, including how water gets recycled and returned for use in communities. The company volunteers, led by Griffith, plan activities that include games to make water conservation and education fun.
Griffith also organizes diaper drives for those in need.
“We donated 6,000 diapers in May,” Griffith said.
In addition to donating water, hey have also donated time to other organizations, including the recent 2017 World Police and Fire Games that were held in Los Angeles. They have also taken part in clearing brush. Where there is a need, Griffith and his team will be there.
At its foundation, Arrowhead is committed to giving and is actively involved in water stewardship, recycling and reusing, and community outreach, Griffith said.
“That is one of the reasons why I chose to [work] at this company,” he said.
“We could be down there every day and still not serve everyone who is in need.”