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A shoe-shiner brings hope for children and families through clean water

Seattle shoe-shine entrepreneur Leon McLaughlin developed a passion for providing clean water to communities in need. He partnered with World Vision and recently had his inspirational story featured on NBC Nightly News.

January 2009



Leon McLaughlin greets children and families during his recent visit to Bolivia, where he saw the first water treatment system installation.
Leon McLaughlin greets children and families during his recent visit to Bolivia, where he saw the first water treatment system installation.
Photo ©2008 World Vision

Leon McLaughlin is a businessman of many talents. He has sold coffee machines in Canada, earned a real-estate license in California, and now owns and runs a shoe-shine stand in central Seattle.

He recently had an experience that changed his life and unexpectedly led him to start another business.

How it began

While traveling on a vacation to Mexico, a local woman told Leon a story that changed his life.

She had a get-together at her home earlier that week. A well-meaning American visitor asked to use her bathroom. When he came out, he explained that he helped her out by draining the extra water that was stored in her bathtub.

Help Now
Leon McLaughlin's remarkable story was featured on NBC Nightly News on Jan. 9. Watch the segment to see how his efforts have helped transform communities once deprived of clean, safe water.

The woman broke down into tears. "You see, that was my water for the entire month," she explained to her American guest.

Not only did it bring Leon's Mexican friend to tears, but it also brought him to action. He immediately knew what had to be done: find a way to bring clean water to the world's poor, especially children.

Where to start

But where to begin? His experience was in local business and sales, not international relief work.

After some investigation and enrollment in water systems repair and maintenance classes, Leon decided to establish another business. This time he would start a non-profit, to bring his clean water equipment to the developing world.

LAM, LLC — or Leon A. McLaughlin — was founded with one mission: to address the critical need of the world's clean water shortage by buying and sending purification equipment to where it is most needed. With the need for clean water in so many countries around the world, Leon sought the advice of an organization with some experience: World Vision.

"When I initially called World Vision to share my clean water vision with them, to my surprise, they listened with open minds and open hearts," he explains.

The solution

Leon poses for a photo with a group of children while visiting the site of one of the water projects he helped fund.
Leon poses for a photo with a group of children while visiting the site of one of the water projects he helped fund.
Photo ©2008 World Vision
As a World Vision donor, Leon now ensures that his equipment will reach its destination safely. World Vision has the staff and humanitarian development infrastructure to work alongside the communities where his water filtration equipment is located. The first water filtration machine was donated to World Vision and sent to Bolivia shortly after floods ravaged the country in February 2008.

As his non-profit gained momentum, so did his publicity. After a series of articles were written about him in Seattle newspapers and NBC Nightly News noticed the story, they interviewed Leon for a feature in their "Making a Difference" segment, which aired on Jan. 9.

'A desperate need for clean water'


During his December trip to Bolivia with World Vision to see his filtration systems at work in several communities, and meet with local officials, Leon was touched even more deeply.

"It's almost like seeing another Hurricane Katrina in the U.S., when you see how the children and their families are displaced," he said. "You could see that there was a desperate need for clean water.

"The children had hope in their eyes, and need help. I'm glad that I'm part of this mission with World Vision, to be able to bring these children and their families clean drinking water."

Learn more


>> Watch the NBC Nightly News segment featuring Leon and his mission to provide clean water for children around the world.
>> Visit Leon's personal fundraising page for information about how you can help his cause.

Two ways you can help

>> Praise God for instilling a passion in Leon McLaughlin to help provide clean, safe water to communities in need around the world. Pray that Leon's work would continue to be a reflection of the Lord's unconditional love for all people, and that children and families would continue to benefit from his efforts in partnership with World Vision.
>> Donate now to World Vision's Clean Water Fund. Your gift will help provide resources such as safe, protected wells, hand pumps, and latrines to improve sanitation for children, families, and entire communities where clean water access is a problem.

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Learn more

Watch the NBC Nightly News segment featuring Leon and his mission to provide clean water for children around the world.
- -
Visit Leon's personal fundraising page for information about how you can help his cause.

Two ways you can help

Praise God for instilling a passion in Leon McLaughlin to help provide clean, safe water to communities in need around the world. Pray that Leon's work would continue to be a reflection of the Lord's unconditional love for all people, and that children and families would continue to benefit from his efforts in partnership with World Vision.
- -

Donate now to World Vision's Clean Water Fund. Your gift will help provide resources such as safe, protected wells, hand pumps, and latrines to improve sanitation for children, families, and entire communities where clean water access is a problem.

 





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