Harnessing the power of giving

Jean Dobbs of African Reflections Foundation and Kevin Bailey, right,owner of High Peaks Solar thank students at Pine Hills Elementary who raised $15,000 to support a deep water well in rural Tanzania during a ceremony at the school Wednesday April 20, 2016 in Albany, NY. (John Carl D'Annibale / Times Union) Photo: John Carl D'Annibale / 10036266A

Photo: John Carl D’Annibale

Kevin Bailey has Tanzania on his mind.

The 34-year-old owner of High Peaks Solar joined Jean Dobbs of African Reflections Foundation on Wednesday at Pine Hills Elementary School to receive a check for $15,000. The donation was three years in the making for students, teachers and staff who held bake sales, redeemed bottles and flipped pancakes to support a solar-powered well at an elementary school in the East African country.

Third-grade teacher Deann Lynch spearheaded the project in memory of her late aunt, Mary Stella Greco, a missionary who died in 2013, and worked closely with fellow teacher Michelle Chiappone.

“People collect murky, stagnant rainwater to drink from holes in the ground and there’s a lot of health implications, especially for children,” said Bailey, who started the nonprofit The Sky is Not Limited in 2006 and serves on the board of African Reflections Foundation. “Providing reliable, clean drinking water is life-changing.”

Bailey and his team have been designing and installing solar power systems throughout the state since 2008. The growing business has allowed Bailey and his wife, Tiffany, to pursue their true passion — humanitarianism.

More Information

Clean water changes lives

For information about making a donation to help provide safe drinking water in Tanzania, go to http://www.theskyisnotlimited.org.

The couple welcomed their first child, son Alexander, in December.

Putting his knowledge about all things solar to good use, Bailey has traveled to Tanzania a handful of times to help install water wells, most recently in 2014. He teamed up with African Reflections Foundation founder Maria Pool, who has been working to raise the standard of living in Africa for more than a decade, and Dobbs, who runs the charity stateside. (More information is available at http://africanreflectionsfoundation.net.)

The foundation credits its kiosk space at Empire State Plaza, provided by the Office of General Services, for helping to spread its message.

Dobbs has been collaborating with Pine Hills Elementary for several years. In addition to providing funding for a well, the school hopes to keep in contact with the African elementary school through a pen pal program.

Students sang songs during the check presentation Wednesday, where school officials said they hope to continue supporting the school in Tanzania by donating books and supplies.

“The school through its own initiative raised this money to solely sponsor a well,” Bailey said. “It’s just tremendous.”

Over the past two years, Bailey’s nonprofit has funded the installation of three wells and he hopes to go back to Tanzania next month to check on them and install the one funded by Pine Hills Elementary.

The wells are powered by the sun and provide a clean water source for entire communities. Instead of villagers walking great distances to find a water source — which are often contaminated and unsafe — the wells Bailey installs offer safety as well as access to fresh water.

Bailey recently teamed up with Wells Fargo Bank and its Community & Urban Stabilization Program, which provides foreclosure properties that didn’t sell at auction to nonprofits across the country.

The Sky is Not Limited was selected to receive a local property in Wynantskill in need of some TLC at no charge. Wells Fargo provided some funding to make repairs.

Bailey said all money raised from the sale of the property will go toward providing solar-powered wells to communities in need.

“We’re keeping busy for sure, and that means our work of providing access to clean, safe drinking water continues as well.”

Credit: Times Union. jpatterson@timesunion.com • @JenSPatterson • 518-454-5340