H20 performance set to benefit Bolivia water project

The meeting occurs in a science classroom with the chemical formula for the water molecule H20 fittingly being bandied about.

But students were not discussing terminology for an upcoming quiz.

Instead, they are South Kitsap High School Key Club members talking about their latest project in collaboration with the nonprofit organization Etta Projects. That was developed by Port Orchard's Pennye Nixon, the mother of Etta Turner, who was killed as a 16-year-old in a bus crash on Nov. 25, 2002, in Bolivia. She was an exchange student at the time of her death.

Nixon said the nonprofit was created to honor the "life and humanitarian concerns" of her daughter. Her vision is a Bolivia "free of hunger, poverty, illiteracy and inequality."

South’s Key Club will partner with Etta Projects will present H20 (Help to Others) from 2 to 7 p.m. Saturday at Sehmel Homestead Park in Gig Harbor. The concert, which features bands such as “Yahtzee,” will help Etta Projects provide a clean water system to a rural village in Bolivia. South senior Charlyn Garcia, who is the bulletin editor for the Key Club, said attendance is free, but comes with a $5 suggested donation per person.

Nixon, who said she has worked with South’s Key Club for about five years, said she likes involving children in these projects. In addition to providing a different perspective than adults, she said it is an educational experience for children. Nixon also has worked on Etta Projects with elementary-school students in Pierce County.

“They know that they can do something,” she said. “Their willingness to educate about poverty is pretty incredible. They're empowered to make a difference. Etta began all of this at 16 and made a difference.”

The last time Etta Projects and South’s Key Club worked in conjunction, Nixon said they raised about $3,000 and “that’s a water system to a small village.” She said there usually are 45 to 50 families in a village with the average multi-generational family consisting of about a dozen people.

The previous function was a “global dinner” in April 2011, where Key Club members served as the master of ceremony. Key Club advisor Beverly Painter, a science teacher at South, said that taught students leadership roles.


But after hosting the dinner for two consecutive years, students told Painter that they wanted to produce an event that would “connect with other students to make a difference.” She said the Key Club members — more than 50 attended the first meeting — felt a concert would help students connect with their peers.

“I want to spread what I know to make a difference and hopefully help others,” Garcia said.

Garcia, who will be the master of ceremony, said she did not get involved with Key Club until a peer invited her to a meeting.

"I think it's important to get involved in the community,” she said. “It helps you gain skills, morals and shapes you into a well-rounded person."

Painter said Key Club tries to balance global and local issues. The group has worked to clean up Sinclair Inlet and also has assisted Kitsap Humane Society and retirees in the area. Next is a Halloween project with UNICEF.

For now, the focus is on the project in Bolivia. In addition to providing water solutions, Etta Projects also has trained teachers in rural villages about hygiene sanitation.

“No matter what, our job in the world is to educate adults,” Nixon said. “Our kids are our future.

“This concert that we put on has the ability to make a difference.”

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