How To Get Your Daughter Invested In Service And Making A Difference In The World

Raising Daughters | Service


Encouraging children to engage with meaningful causes ignites a lifelong sense of purpose, guiding them to create a positive change in the world.

An interview with Sarah Evans, founder of Well Aware, about how to connect kids to a cause that makes a difference in the world.

Sarah Evans founded the not-for-profit Well Aware, which funds and implements lasting clean water systems to drive development & empower communities in East Africa with the goal of getting clean water infrastructure to rural, developing areas.

Sarah Evans describes her background using Dr. Jordan’s Dot Theory; she discusses her path and journey that led her to her passion for making a difference in Africa by building wells.

She also discusses the effect her work has had on her 10-year-old daughter and what her daughter learned during her recent visit to Africa with her mom

Learn how being connected to a cause or purpose helps kids understand what’s important and how they’re important by contributing to causes through helping even in small ways.

Dr. Jordan and Sarah also discuss how valuable it is to communicate what you do for work to your children, especially as it relates to helping other people. They also discuss how to explain hard to understand issues and problems to young children.

Find more information about Sarah Evans and her NFP Well Aware at 

Contact Dr. Jordan at

Listen to the podcast here


How To Get Your Daughter Invested In Service And Making A Difference In The World

I appreciate you stopping by to read and learn about girls, understanding girls, what’s going on for girls, and how to support girls. In this episode, I decided to go a little different direction. I’m going to talk to someone. I will introduce a woman whose name is Sarah Evans. She’s doing something amazing in Africa. She’s all about being of service. She has a daughter who she’s teaching about being of service.

I have talked to you guys about this a lot over the last few years of all these episodes on how important it is for our girls to have examples of how people got to where they are, how they find their purpose, how they find their thing, and how they find their calling. They realize that when they are 14, 16, 18, or 22, they don’t have to have it all figured out. We are going to learn about the background of Sarah Evans, who is a lawyer. She started a not-for-profit called Well Aware, which she’s going to explain to us. Welcome to the show. I appreciate you being on.

Thank you so much for having me. I’m excited to chat with you.

How long have you had this not-for-profit?

I started the nonprofit, Well Aware, a couple of years ago. It was not my formal training or plan in life, but I do think I’m right where I’m supposed to be.

That’s usually how it works.

I hope so. As you mentioned, girls needing to figure out their path at such a young age is unreasonable. Navigating that later in life is just fine too.

Tell us briefly what your not-for-profit is. You dig and create wells for people, but that’s just the surface definition. What is it that your not-for-profit does?

I will try to not be too verbose because I get very excited about this. The work that we do for the international development of clean water is different than most work done in this space. I started the nonprofit Well Aware after we did a project in Kenya in East Africa. I had no idea that my life would change in such traumatic ways at the time, but I was asked by a friend who had a family in Kenya to help, given my legal background for the paperwork and logistics, to raise funding to raise some cattle and goats that were dying in this village in Kenya in 2007.

It was one of their most significant droughts. It was a widespread problem across the whole country and region. I said, “I want to help with this.” I then got excited about learning more about it. What I found was that this was a water problem and it wasn’t just the livestock that were hurting, and the livestock is hurting these regions that hurts the whole community because that is their livelihood. There are all of these other issues. Disease rates were going up so much.

This was all because of the lack of clean water and I said, “Why don’t we instead consider raising funds to drill a water well?” I had no idea what I was doing. I just thought, “If we are going to explore the root cause of this issue, wouldn’t we address that instead of putting Band-Aids on something that’s going to re-emerge?” I convinced my small group of friends at the time that we would indeed raise funds for a water well. We did this through our first weird fundraiser called Shower Strike. We flew to Kenya, drilled well, and we got lucky. We drilled a very successful well that is still serving the community out there. That was the beginning of everything else.

I read on your website you have 100 wells. Is that right? Am I remembering it correctly?

We just hit our 100th in April 2023. We have exceeded that by now. We have over 100.

Congratulations. I read a book sometimes at camp to girls. It’s about a girl who has to walk 5 miles to a well from a village. To get this big thing of water, she has to carry it back on her head. It was 5 miles each way. It’s hot and everything. It not only does help out with livestock and stuff, but it also allows them to go to school.

It has such an incredible impact, and I don’t think that most people understand what an impact it has on young girls. I do talk about this a lot, especially now that I have a daughter myself. I started this journey before she was born. When she was born, it solidified this path for me because the biggest detriment of not having clean water falls on the shoulders of young women.

Statistically, for every additional year, a young woman is in school, her future income goes up 12%. If you put clean water right next to the school and by the time she hits puberty and needs those extra hygiene facilities, then she will go to school and she won’t fall behind because she’s out for a week and it’s taboo. She’s in school, and her future has changed forever. That is one of the main reasons that I have continued on this path.

I love the passion in your voice. I can see why you have 100 successful wells because of your energy and passion. Tell us how you got there. There’s a story. I’m not sure if you have heard of a woman. Her name is Biruté Mary Galdikas. She’s a primatologist. When she was a little girl, she got a book that someone gave her of Curious George. She just fell in love. She mostly fell in love not with George but with the man in the yellow hat. She took out all the Curious George books in the library and started reading about primates because she said, “I want to do what he does. I want to live in the jungle and work with monkeys and whatever.”

To make a long story short, she did all that. She got a degree in Zoology. She became one of the Trimates they call. There’s Dian Fossey and Jane Goodall. She studied orangutans because she loved the way they looked you in the eye and stuff. The seeds for her started with reading Curious George at the age of five. I described a girl’s what I call my dot theory, which means they don’t need to know the final picture of their life.

It is like those connect the dot drawings. You don’t need to know. Their job in my mind is to just be open to dots. It is the experiences across your path you feel drawn to. It can be classes. It can be jobs. It can be internships. It can be reading a biography. It can be going to camp. It can be all kinds of things. You can have a perspective, look back, and say, “I can see how some of those things started to connect for me.” I’m curious about what were some of the dots that led you to your not-for-profit.

I love the dot theory. I have turned it wayfaring and applicable not just for finding your path or being open to your past or the path will come. As company owners and in leadership positions, people are constantly asking you, “What is your goal? Where do you see yourself years from now?” I always found that so frustrating because, as you say, you have to be open to those dots, and the dots aren’t yet visible when you are being asked those questions. I appreciate that perspective and theory. For me, I have connected the dots.

I don’t know if you read my interview in the Authority Magazine because I talked about a lot. I was born in Australia in a hippie community. We lived off the grid, with no electricity or running water. The first five years of my life were spent that way. I’m sure I don’t remember much from those years. What I do remember is very happy, just eating vegetables out of the garden, going eel fishing with my dad, and being completely elated from finding the perfect toy in the junkyard. It was happiness. I know that because my formative years were spent with just the necessities. That, to me, means happiness. That is the foundation for where things went for me from there.

That said, when we left Australia, we landed in a small town in East, Texas. What I was looking around me and seeing as success was all the school clubs, activities, straight As, and the captain of a cheerleading squad. I did those things because I thought I should. What I took note of was my tendency to gravitate toward leadership positions, but it wasn’t filling my cup. From there, I went on to university and then on to law school with the notion of having an excellent income and taking care of myself and a family that may come.

I did those things too. I checked those boxes, but I was not happy. Since I was a teenager, and I don’t talk about this much, but I feel like it’s important for this conversation, I have struggled with anxiety and depression. I was not doing so well in that battle. Although on paper, it looked pretty great for me. When I came across this opportunity with that friend to help in East Africa, I jumped on it. I was drawn to it. I had to take note at that time because what I haven’t yet mentioned is that aside from the leadership stuff that I was drawn to, in undergrad, my first major was in Civil Engineering. When I went to law school, my focus was Environmental Law, and even clerked for the EPA Region 6 in Dallas in clean water.

With no thought of, “Someday, I want to go to Kenya and dig a well.”

It was just a wild thing. My Environmental Law professor had said, “I think you’d be a good fit for this open position in Region 6.” I took it and got disenchanted with governmental intervention and environmental issues, but I enjoyed that experience. In retrospect, all these dots that you spoke to do make sense to me. At the time with every new dawn, I had no idea where the dots were going to lead me, but it makes a lot of sense.

I then traveled so much. I have always been excited about international travel, seeing new things being with new people, and learning everything that I can get my eyes on. This opportunity to help in this one little village in rural Kenya was exciting. I sunk my teeth into figuring out how we could be the most helpful and have the most impact. We did that first well, and on the drill site, on that first project, I just knew that this was my new path. That’s how it all happened.

I see a lot of girls with anxiety and depression. They are feeling it in middle school, high school, and college, which is also called Council Women in college. Not all that, but oftentimes, there’s a sense that they are living their life by should, trying to please other people, and not going to disappoint people, “I should go to college. I should do this. I should do that. I want to do this, but people tell me I can’t make much money.” They are miserable because they are not doing it for them.

It’s true. I see it so much more even now than when I was young. I’m Gen X, and it was even bad then but it’s doubly worse now. I see that and I fear for my daughter. I’m glad that she gets to see me and my fierce female colleagues and male colleagues and how we are finding our place in the world outside of all those shoulds. What I didn’t circle back on, and thank you for reminding me with this, and I should say too as a disclaimer. Finding your path in life is not a cure for anxiety and depression. What it does is it helps to fuel the desire to help yourself get better. You don’t cure that. It is still something that I have to struggle and cope with daily, but it is easier now because I know that I’m on the right path. I know that I’m on the path that is right for me. My motivation and inspiration to keep up with that work is a lot bigger and better.

Finding your path in life is not a cure for anxiety and depression. What it does is it helps to fuel the desire to help yourself get better. Share on X

You do something that feels you and fulfills you. It feels right. Your gut is saying, “This is it.” After the first well, it was like “This is what I have been guiding myself towards even though I didn’t know it.”

It’s true and then that definition of success for yourself. You have a definition, you are in it, and you are living it, but you still feel bad. That’s an indication that that’s not your definition of success. We all make that for ourselves and we have to figure that out for ourselves as our work, but then when we are there, things are a lot better, especially as women.

Before I forget, I interviewed an author Clare Fieseler. She and another woman whose name I can’t remember wrote a book that came out through National Geographic. It’s called No Boundaries. It is a good book for your daughter to read. It’s about 25 young women who are doing cool things and things that you would never dream up, like a girl might say, “I have always had an interest in animals. I guess I have to be a vet.” One woman is a primatologist. One of them studies volcanoes. There are all of these cool things with short stories that are meant for girls around your daughter’s age, middle school, or high school. It’s called No Boundaries.

I will get it. Thank you.

She has a great role model, her mother. Has she gone to Africa with you?

As I mentioned, I started all of this before she was born. I just brought her on her first trip. It was all of the excitement, anxiety, nervousness, and pressure. I am finally getting to bring her because she always wanted to come when she was little. She was probably about two and a half when I went back on my first trip after she was born. She said, “Mommy I can go with you. I have a shovel. I can dig.” She finally got to go at the age of ten. She was remarkable. She was so great. She has grown up with me doing this work and she’s seen all of the videos and pictures and heard all of the stories, but you never know. Kids need to be who they are going to be. I was fully expecting that if it turned out that she didn’t love it as much as me, I would be fine with that. She was awesome and I’m so proud of her.

Kids need to be who they are going to be. Share on X

What do you think she learned from the trip? My kids are all adults, but kids nowadays are so busy with a lot of supervised activities. There isn’t much downtime to think, read, explore, research, and/or do things like being of service to people. We have lost that somehow in our busyness. As you are talking about, we have this definition of success, which says you go to a top college, get a good job, and make a lot of money. There’s not much space in there. There are other people in the world where there are places to be of service, and I don’t think most of our kids get that opportunity. I’m curious about what you think Violet learned at the age of ten spending a week or two in Africa.

Kids do not get that opportunity, and it’s such a shame, isn’t it? I won’t get started on our educational system. For parents and daughters reading, there are so many paths and then paths off of those paths. The world is such a beautiful place of opportunity. I didn’t know that when I was growing up, and I don’t think young people know that now. For Violet specifically, my little girl, I noticed that she got older and she understood more about my work and asked more questions. What was happening is that she was starting to take pity on the people that we get to benefit, which is an instinct.

We do feel things for the people that we get to benefit, and that’s why we do this work. I had hoped that she would understand that it’s a significant lack of resources in a very different circumstance. That’s where we intervene. These people were not pathetic, and so when she got there, I tried so hard, and I don’t know how well I did it, to back off and let her position herself in the community and meet the kids in her own time and in her way, and I watched it happen and saw that all click for her.

These kids were like her. They had the same interests. They are setting the same things. They are excited about the same things. They play the same sports and worry about the same stuff. It did all finally round out for her and her mind that it was just a lack of resources, it was not their fall, and they were not to be pitied. It’s cool that she gets to be a part of lifting those kids in that way.

I’m so glad that she’s not just hearing about it and watching videos of it, but she went there. She also saw you and watched you interact. Even though she might have come home and said, “Mom, I was watching you and I was making notes,” kids watch us. They absorb stuff. My wife and I have been running some weekend retreats like father-daughter retreats and mother-daughter retreats for the last years or so all over the place. It’s interesting.

Sometimes, we will have the girls. The youngest girl group we do is 7 to 10 years old. We will ask them at the beginning, “Tell us your name. Where are you from? Tell us how old you are. Tell us how old your dad is. Tell us what your dad does for his work.” It’s funny because these girls say, “I think my dad is 50. I don’t know.” I will say what he does for work and they will say things like, “He’s on the phone. He’s on the computer,” or they have no clue. Parents are missing out on an opportunity to share our stories, successes, mistakes, failures, and feelings about things. What she experienced in what you are saying in Africa was she went from being pity and sympathy to empathy.

That’s perfectly put. That’s exactly what happened. I was grateful for that. Seeing her seeing that new experience through her eyes was more broadly applied to me than to all other children. As an organization, we work with lots of other kids’ classrooms that want to get involved in our work and do their kinds of fundraising, support, and being in connection with the kids that we get to work with overseas. It’s been phenomenal for me to see this play out for us as an organization. I didn’t realize in the beginning how it would impact these young people of all ages, especially those late elementary kids.

It is not just about where they are going to head with their life, but how they understand the world and what our role can be in making the world a better place with nothing more than an understanding of it, a little bit of effort, and being involved in a tiny campaign. All of a sudden, these kids understand it. They just made a huge difference in some other kid’s life across the world. That is so incredibly empowering I have heard kids as young as 8 and 9 saying like, “I had no idea that I could help the world.” It’s phenomenal that they get to have that new understanding of the world and their power at such a young age because that will stay with them.

Raising Daughters | Service
Service: It is not just about where they are going to head with their life, but how they understand the world and what our role can be in making the world a better place with nothing more than an understanding of it, a little bit of effort, and being involved in a tiny campaign.


Maybe they are not going to be curing cancer or something, but little things make a big difference. People may say you dug a well a couple of years ago, yes, but you changed the community. You changed the 100 or 50 girls’ educational trajectory just by digging a well.

That’s so important to understand, especially as a young person. It doesn’t matter if it’s something huge. Even if it’s something small, that is power that comes from you. It’s also a mindset. It’s just your perspective about what type of power you have for good or for bad, to put it in little kid terms. You can tap into that goodness power. It can change the way you think about things forever.

I saw a girl in my office and she’s only five. I usually don’t see kids that young, but she snuck in somehow. She’s very precocious. She’s 5 going on 30. She was amazing. She’s been butting heads with kids and she’s been labeled as being bossy, which drives me crazy. She’s a powerful little creature. She’s got rough edges. For kids like that, whether they are 5 or 10 like Violet is or whatever, what they are looking for and what they need is they need places to channel it and appropriate places to be powerful, take leadership, have a cause, or create something or whatever. When they are doing those things, they are the greatest thing since sliced bread. We tend to butthead with them instead of giving them channels.

That’s a shame too. I probably shouldn’t unpack that the way I want to now because I do think how we think about young girls is different from how we think about young boys and how they are supposed to behave and use their voices. I agree. I never wanted Violet to have that label. It’s unavoidable in a lot of situations, but I have been trying so hard to make sure she understands her fierceness, she’s a precocious child, too, and the ways that she thinks outside of the box and understands even math differently. She’s good at math, but she understands it differently. That is not wrong for her that she’s doing great.

You mentioned all of this over-scheduling and keeping the calendar packed. By virtue of our living situation, because I am a single mom and it’s a two of us, I have had to tell her, and I have heard it on a podcast that it is good for kids to be bored. “You have to use the next three hours. I need to be in this meeting to use all of these supplies and make something that you want to make,” or, “You have these books to choose from.” We have had to do that as a family of two. I think that she has thrived from that. I don’t know if that’s true across the board, but I do firmly believe that it is good for kids to be bored to use their imagination to figure out how to sell food, entertain themselves, and be cool people.

In our first camp, we had 25 grade school girls and 25 middle school girls. In our staff meeting, we were trying to set some plans. We involved the girls once they came. “What are we going to do this week for fun?” What we constantly strive for is, “Let’s not over schedule.” We want to have a lot of downtime. We don’t want to be a camp where, every hour, a horn blows and you move to another activity. We have afternoons when the pools are open and we may go up to the lake.

There are always 2 or 3 things going on, but they pick and choose. If they want to go up to the lake and kayak for three hours, they can do that, or if they want to fish. In the evening time, we will have a couple of hours after dinner before we do maybe even activity to hang out. Some of the staff who aren’t as experienced were like, “They are going to get bored.” Yes, I hope so because then they start making up games. They start doing these cool things. We have had many years of experience. It’s so fun. To me, the fun part of our camp is the spontaneous fun that happens when they are bored.

It’s a beautiful thing to watch. I wish that we could allow kids to do that more together. It’s not the way that culture guides us now, but that’s what we do as a family.

You grew up with that, it sounds like.

I was a free-range child, for sure.

You learned the value as a little kid.

I did. It’s interesting, too, because that’s when I started to dream. I don’t think that kids have the opportunity to dream anymore and look for those dots that you spoke to. Now, what I see happening with young people, girls and boys alike, is they are over-scheduled without a whole lot of opportunity to figure out how to self-manage. They then hit university and real life and it’s jarring. The contrast is it is not a good way to enter society, I don’t think. We will have to wait and see years from now what my daughter is up to, but I think she’s going to get that.

Raising Daughters | Service
Service: Young people, girls and boys alike, are over-scheduled without a whole lot of opportunity to figure out how to self-manage.


We don’t do this every summer, but we have always tried to have an afternoon where we spend a couple of hours doing some type of service. Oftentimes, it’s to the camp. We don’t own the camp facility. We just rent it. We do something for the camp. The way we frame it is we will circle the girls up. We will talk and ask them, “How many of you have ever done something of service before, like a service project?” A lot of them had, most say. We were like, “How’d you feel when you did that? What was the feeling about that?” They talk about how they felt happy, proud, and connected.

Most of them had experiences like that. We want to make it a want to instead of have to because if they are being forced to do service, we are going to get all kinds of pushback. It’s more of like, “This is why I might want to do it.” We also run the circle right before we start and have them dedicate their day of service to somebody who has been of service to them.

They have great stories. They will say, “I’m going to dedicate this day of service to my grandmother because she’s always been there for me. I want to dedicate this day of service to my mom because of this and that.” As you said before, there are a lot of shoulds growing up, at least after your hippie days. We can make it into something that’s their choice and then they get the goodies from it that we want them to get from it.

It is that layer of gratitude, too, which is pretty important for somebody who wants to follow a path of service. I don’t know that you can without that very real recognition of gratitude.

If people want to learn about your not-for-profit, how would they find that and how would they get a hold of it?

Our website is We haven’t talked about it much, but you may have some people reading who are interested in the new company that we started called Well Beyond. It is a very niche solution to the water system failure in our sector, which is a pretty significant issue in the water charity industry. We have created an app to support community members in maintaining and fixing the water systems on their own. We have both now.

If people were going to get involved because they feel like, “This is awesome,” what are some ways that they would contribute?

I love this question, first because I love the opportunity to let everybody know that almost all of the actual work and hands-on efforts, we sort in-country. We don’t bring a bunch of people over to these regions and drop them off to paint a wall, dig, or plant some trees because there is enough expertise, resources, and desire to complete those things in-country. That then further supports the local economy. We still recruit so much support over here. We even have a classroom to clean water program and we have an annual gala. Our flagship support campaign happens every April, and it is called the Shower Strike.

Before we even did our first water system, rewind to when I was talking about raising those funds through that first well. We had to get scrappy. I had no fundraising experience. I was committed and I figured out how to code buttons and PayPal. We decided that we were going to tell all of our friends and family, “We were not going to take a shower until we raise enough money for this first well.” We did it. We raised $25,000 in a couple of weeks just by saying we are not going to shower. We still do it every year and it’s grown every year. We raised almost $500,000 through our Shower Strike.

All of this you can find on our website, We also have a lovely growing group of companies that are supporting our work and participating in the Shower Strike campaign. We have our monthly recurring program called The Village. We have a growing number of those incredible humans also committing to support the timeline around how and when we implement and the number of projects we get to do every year. It is just lovely.

Here is a parting question. Based upon all your experience of being an entrepreneur, creating this not-for-profit, and putting your heart and soul into it, and now also including your daughter in the process, any word you would have to parents about how they can get their daughters to become interested and invested in being of service?

My poor kid had no real choice but to be exposed to it. Whether or not she chooses to follow a similar path, allowing your kids to explore the world is the first step. Handing them a schedule for service is fine but probably not inspirational. I have many friends with kids and have just worked with lots of kids. I understand now to allow them the space to explore, read about other cultures, and travel if you can. What happens with the kid’s imagination is they start to understand where the weaknesses in our world are and where they may be able to plug themselves in to have that power to make a change. Giving them a menu of items of things that they can go and volunteer for is fine. The best place is to allow them that mental and emotional space to learn about the world.

Raising Daughters | Service
Service: What happens with the kid’s imagination is they start to understand where the weaknesses in our world are and where they may be able to plug themselves in to have that power to make a change.


Autonomy is always important, whether you are trying to learn to read or anything. It is having the choice. You are a good model for this. It is just doing it and being it because they are watching. They will see your passion and interest. They will see you pouring yourself into something and they will be curious about that. Sometimes those are seeds that don’t bear fruit or trees when they are 10, 15, or 18, but once they become adults, you will be able to look back and go, “It’s interesting how those seeds start to bloom.”

One more thing on this is to be brave because you may have a wacky, bizarre idea about how to make a difference or support this one little thing that you see as a weakness in our society or the world and just do it. Try it. It doesn’t matter. I was terrified when I started doing this work, but I was also 30. I had to muster up the bravery. As a child, you inherently have more of that and just use it.

Yes, you may be nervous. There’s fear, but there’s also usually excitement or a sense of adventure. You are in charge of which one you focus on you. If you over-focus on the fear, then you will be paralyzed and you won’t do anything. If you focus on the excitement, adventure, curiosity, and whatever else, you see that helps you to overcome fears.

One more thing left to tell Violet and anyone who reads this is that life begins outside your comfort zone. It is where the thrill starts.

Life begins outside your comfort zone. It is where the thrill starts. Share on X

We have been talking to Sarah Evans. She is the Founder of a not-for-profit called Well Aware. If you want more information and if this piqued your interest, which I hope it has, check out her website at That’s the way you can learn about what she’s doing. There are lots of ways to contribute. It’s one other place your kids can start to see beyond their little walls and to see that it’s a big world, they have a place in it, and they have a way to make a difference.

Thanks so much for this opportunity.

Thanks so much.

That was Sarah Evans. That’s amazing what she’s done. It’s amazing what she’s doing for the world. It’s also amazing the type of modeling she’s doing for her daughter. That is something that we all are doing, whether we are aware of it or not. We are modeling something whether we are aware or not. Be conscious about what you are modeling. Also, try and encourage your daughters, maybe through your example, to do some service work.

We do it at our summer camps. Spending a couple of hours being of service to camp is awesome. The kids have fun. We make it fun, and it feels good to be of service to other people. Once again, Sarah’s website is Check it out and get involved. Thanks for stopping by here. I will be back here with another new episode. I hope you enjoyed this. If it’s interesting to you, it may be interesting to your daughters as well. Maybe those spark something in them another dot.


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