Meet Casey O’Toole: a bilingual UCSB alum who now serves as the Project Director for a nonprofit organization called Hands 4 Others (H4O) here in Santa Barbara! H4O began in 2009 by a group of high school students from Laguna Blanca high school in Santa Barbara and has blossomed into a huge organization that provides sustainable clean water supplies to third world countries. H4O funds installations of Living Water Treatment Systems (LWTS) that can clean 10 gallons of water a minute and serve communities of up to 3,000 people. So far, they have helped provide these clean water supplies to more than 150,000 people in 11 different countries from Africa to Asia.
H40 has clubs in middle schools, high schools, and colleges across the nation and in Europe, and is sponsored by pro-surfer Lakey Peterson. Their primary focus is to enable the younger generation to get involved in the global water crisis by creating awareness on their campuses, participating in fundraising campaigns, and going on ‘Vision Trips’ to the communities they are involved with.
What is your educational background?
My major at UCSB was Global Studies and Economics with a minor in Spanish. My degree in Grad School was similar, International Economics with an emphasis on non-profit management
What was your favorite part about UCSB?
I loved UCSB’s culture. The community is so unique and welcoming and the campus is beautiful! I loved skating from class to class.
What made you choose to go the not-for-profit direction?
I majored in Global Studies and my Masters in International Economics. I’ve always enjoyed traveling, volunteering, and getting to know new cultures. Non-profits just seemed to be a great fit for my passion and personality.
What is your vision for Hands 4 Others?
I see H4O being the premier organization that provides young people with an opportunity to think outside themselves by getting involved with philanthropy in a very tangible way. Getting students engaged from within the states, then having them experience the fruits of their hard work by getting their hands dirty in the field and installing water systems is a very powerful experience.
What is your advice for students who want to go into the not-for-profit direction/want to give back to their community?
I would recommend following your passion and finding a non-profit that fits well with what you care about. Find a cool internship and start learning how non-profits operate. Every non-profit is different and works on a slim budget, so you will learn how to wear a lot of different hats. A great experience.
Currently, Casey is working on planning and promoting the H4O Walk 4 Water Event to be held on March 21st. If any of you Gauchos are in the area, feel free to check it out! The event itself is free, and would make for a perfect family trip or a special date with your significant other.
To find out more, check out Hands 4 Others.