In certain parts of Africa, the average walking distance to a water source is just shy of four miles. That’s why Tim Hoekstra leads Austin residents in World Vision’s Global 6k for clean water every year; he wants clean water to be more accessible to a greater number of African families.
Hoekstra, a 59-year-old pastor Suburban Life Community Church in La Grange Park, has advocated for clean water for over 20 years. As a recruiter for World Vision, he reaches out to West Side residents to participate in the race each spring.
“I see a lot of the same people from Austin participate in the race from year to year because they have seen how powerful it is. It’s such a beautiful thing to see local and global work coming together,” Hoekstra said.
Hoekstra also recruits Austin residents to become World Vision volunteers to sponsor children in Africa; volunteers operate out of the World Vision warehouse in Austin located at 5001 W Harrison St.
In previous years, Hoekstra has raised over $60,000 for the clean water initiative. The Austin/West Side team of 101 members has raised $13,000 to date, enough to provide water to 254 children.
Every few years, Hoekstra travels to Africa with World Vision volunteers for 1o days at a time, meeting with World Vision staff working at sites that are in the process of supplying quick and clean water.
In addition to the recruiting work, Hoekstra works alongside Senior Pastor Clarence Hilliard of Austin Corinthian Baptist Church to include the Austin community in World Vision’s mission.
Every second Sunday of the month, Hoekstra and Hilliard gather with Austin residents to worship. During this service, donations are taken for the church to put toward global ministry projects, including World Vision’s clean water project.
Hilliard said he’s thankful for Hoekstra’s World Vision work in Austin because it has brought awareness not only to the community about the clean water issue facing too many Africans, but to their own health as well.
“When people see their own running or walking, it really gives a fresh perspective and hopefully even motivates people to improve their health. Running for this cause helps people improve their own health by being active,” Hilliard said.
Community member and World Vision supporter Maretta Brown Miller said World Vision’s mission resonates with her.
“We take so much for granted. Turning on the faucet or going to the store for water, and these people have to walk miles for dirty water,” Miller said.
Her 28-year-old son, Richard Von Miller, will be participating in the race along with fellow members of West Side Ministers.