After raising money for a well in Sierra Leone, local teen turns focus on Flint

15-year-old Seth Lewis of Alexandria with parents Phil and Ilene and "the ultimate mascot" Scooter. "Ilene and I both stress that this is Seth's project. He puts a lot of work into it and we really want him to shine," dad Phil Lewis said. (WTOP/Kristi King)
Fifteen-year-old Seth Lewis, of Alexandria, Virginia, with parents Phil and Ilene and “the ultimate mascot,” Scooter. “Ilene and I both stress that this is Seth’s project. He puts a lot of work into it and we really want him to shine,” Phil Lewis said. (WTOP/Kristi King) (WTOP/Kristi King)
Seth's dad offers support and advice while letting the teen take full responsibility for the projects. "I just try to give him background on some business principals," said Phil Lewis. "He had to negotiate contracts for the shirts, [and learned] how to follow up on the website with customer service. So, when someone does a donation he tries to send back a personalized message thanking them every time," Lewis said. (WTOP/Kristi King)
Seth’s dad offers support and advice while letting the teen take full responsibility for the projects. “I just try to give him background on some business principles,” Phil Lewis said. “He had to negotiate contracts for the shirts [and learned] how to follow up on the website with customer service. So, when someone does a donation, he tries to send back a personalized message thanking them every time.” (WTOP/Kristi King) (WTOP/Kristi King)
In 2012 Seth Lewis started the Seth Lewis Lucky 13 Water Project and raised money to be the sole source funder for The Water Project to build this well in Thumorso, Sierra Leone. (Photo courtesy of TheWaterProject.org)
In 2012, Seth Lewis started the Seth Lewis Lucky 13 Water Project and raised money to be the sole source funder for The Water Project to build this well in Thumorso, Sierra Leone. (Photo courtesy of TheWaterProject.org) (Courtesy of TheWaterProject.org)
Seth Lewis raised $6,875 to build this well in Thumorso, Sierra Leone that serves a community of 160 people. "It's great to see pictures of people at the well drinking the water," Lewis said. (Photo courtesy of TheWaterProject.org)
Seth Lewis raised $6,875 to build this well in Thumorso, Sierra Leone, that serves a community of 160 people. “It’s great to see pictures of people at the well drinking the water,” Lewis said. (Photo courtesy of TheWaterProject.org) (Courtesy of TheWaterProject.org)
Before having the new well equipped with a pump, community members had to pull water up with a bucket and rope. (Photo courtesy of TheWaterProject.org)
Before the new well equipped with a pump, community members had to pull water up with a bucket and rope. (Photo courtesy of TheWaterProject.org) (Courtesy of TheWaterProject.org)
(Courtesy of TheWaterProject.org)
(Courtesy of TheWaterProject.org) (Courtesy of TheWaterProject.org)
Not having a convenient source of clean water can have wide-spread consequences by making community members sick and limiting time people can devote to recreation and work, for example.  "Part of the problem was that they'd have to spend hours and hours searching for water that wasn't even clean when they got it," Lewis said. (WTOP/Kristi King)
The lack of a convenient source of clean water can have widespread consequences — it can make community members sick and limit time people can devote to recreation and work, for example. “Part of the problem was that they’d have to spend hours and hours searching for water that wasn’t even clean when they got it,” Lewis said. (WTOP/Kristi King) (WTOP/Kristi King)
Thumorso, Sierra Leone, is an area of desert grassland in Africa. “That’s also why the water is so dirty — because it has a lot of dirt that came from [the land],” Lewis said. (Courtesy of TheWaterProject.org) (Courtesy of TheWaterProject.org)
Seth Lewis's Lucky 13 Water Project now is raising $10,000 to support the Flint Child Health and Development. The family van always stocks fundraising T-Shirts for sale at a moment's notice. "The shirts are $18 because 18 in Hebrew is 'chai,' which actually means life. And as we know, water is key to life," Seth Lewis said. (WTOP/Kristi King)
Seth Lewis’s Lucky 13 Water Project is now raising $10,000 to support the Flint Child Health and Development. The family SUV always stocks fundraising T-shirts for sale at a moment’s notice. “The shirts are $18 because 18 in Hebrew is ‘chai,’ which actually means life. And as we know, water is key to life,” Lewis said. (WTOP/Kristi King) (WTOP/Kristi King)
As part of his fundraising efforts Seth Lewis sets up an information booth and sells T-shirts at lacrosse games, his brother's baseball games and other locations. The cards he puts on display cover different clean water issues around America, lead poisoning and how lead got into the Flint, Michigan water supply. (WTOP/Kristi King)
As part of his fundraising efforts, Seth Lewis sets up an information booth and sells T-shirts at lacrosse games, his brother’s baseball games and other locations. The cards he puts on display cover different clean water issues around America, lead poisoning and how lead got into the Flint, Michigan, water supply. (WTOP/Kristi King) (WTOP/Kristi King)
"I always try to represent the Lucky 13 Project, on and off the field," Lewis said. Time management is a great challenge for the sophomore who is in the marching band, on the Lacrosse team, in the National Honor Society and makes straight As - in addition to raising money for the Flint, Michigan project. (Photo courtesy of Seth Lewis)
“I always try to represent the Lucky 13 Project, on and off the field,” Lewis said. Time management is a great challenge for the sophomore, who is in the marching band, on the lacrosse team, in the National Honor Society and makes straight As — in addition to raising money for the Flint, Michigan, project. (Photo courtesy of Seth Lewis) (Courtesy of Seth Lewis)
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15-year-old Seth Lewis of Alexandria with parents Phil and Ilene and "the ultimate mascot" Scooter. "Ilene and I both stress that this is Seth's project. He puts a lot of work into it and we really want him to shine," dad Phil Lewis said. (WTOP/Kristi King)
Seth's dad offers support and advice while letting the teen take full responsibility for the projects. "I just try to give him background on some business principals," said Phil Lewis. "He had to negotiate contracts for the shirts, [and learned] how to follow up on the website with customer service. So, when someone does a donation he tries to send back a personalized message thanking them every time," Lewis said. (WTOP/Kristi King)
In 2012 Seth Lewis started the Seth Lewis Lucky 13 Water Project and raised money to be the sole source funder for The Water Project to build this well in Thumorso, Sierra Leone. (Photo courtesy of TheWaterProject.org)
Seth Lewis raised $6,875 to build this well in Thumorso, Sierra Leone that serves a community of 160 people. "It's great to see pictures of people at the well drinking the water," Lewis said. (Photo courtesy of TheWaterProject.org)
Before having the new well equipped with a pump, community members had to pull water up with a bucket and rope. (Photo courtesy of TheWaterProject.org)
(Courtesy of TheWaterProject.org)
Not having a convenient source of clean water can have wide-spread consequences by making community members sick and limiting time people can devote to recreation and work, for example.  "Part of the problem was that they'd have to spend hours and hours searching for water that wasn't even clean when they got it," Lewis said. (WTOP/Kristi King)
Seth Lewis's Lucky 13 Water Project now is raising $10,000 to support the Flint Child Health and Development. The family van always stocks fundraising T-Shirts for sale at a moment's notice. "The shirts are $18 because 18 in Hebrew is 'chai,' which actually means life. And as we know, water is key to life," Seth Lewis said. (WTOP/Kristi King)
As part of his fundraising efforts Seth Lewis sets up an information booth and sells T-shirts at lacrosse games, his brother's baseball games and other locations. The cards he puts on display cover different clean water issues around America, lead poisoning and how lead got into the Flint, Michigan water supply. (WTOP/Kristi King)
"I always try to represent the Lucky 13 Project, on and off the field," Lewis said. Time management is a great challenge for the sophomore who is in the marching band, on the Lacrosse team, in the National Honor Society and makes straight As - in addition to raising money for the Flint, Michigan project. (Photo courtesy of Seth Lewis)

WASHINGTON — A local teenager who thinks clean drinking water is a “human right” is now on his second big fundraising project related to water issues.

“I just know that I’m so lucky to be able to have access to clean water, whenever I want,” said 15-year-old Seth Lewis of Alexandria, Virginia.

Lewis first got interested in clean water issues when deciding upon a community project to do for his bar mitzvah.

“It ended up being a complete success. I was able to raise $6,875 to be the sole source funder of a well in Sierra Leone,” Lewis said of the clean water source constructed by The Water Project. “It’s so great to see them, they’re all smiling — so happy that they finally have access to clean water and it’s by their home.”

Now, raising money to help children affected by the Flint, Michigan, water crisis, Lewis is finding this second effort more of a challenge.

“Compared to raising money for a well in Africa — which is a direct, tangible thing that people are donating for — the fund that I’m raising money to donate money to is helping with long-term effects. It’s a little hard for people to understand, so sometimes they’re not as motivated,” Lewis said.

He’s a good salesman, however, and promotes his cause in many forms — making presentations to groups such as the Parent Teacher Student Association at his school, West Potomac High, setting up an information booth at local sports games and rewarding donations with T-shirts.

“I know a lot of people want to donate but they also want something in return. So it’s a nice way to look good and feel good,” Lewis said.

Lewis is working to raise $10,000 for the Flint Child Health and Development Fund, but expects his interest in clean water will continue once he’s reached this goal.

“This isn’t just a Flint issue; this could happen to anyone at any time,” he said.

Lewis, as a high school sophomore, has earned nothing but As on report cards and believes he might end up in the chemistry field.

“I’m kind of interested in pharmaceuticals right now. That would definitely have to do with clean water and medical,” Lewis said, while adding that things always change and he’s up for anything.

“As long as it’s helping people, that’s what’s most important,” he said.

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