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Paper Pushers

A Q&A with the co-founders of Paper for Water

Katherine and Isabelle Adams are two Dallas sisters with heart. Upon discovering six years ago that millions of people around the world do not have access to clean drinking water, they created Paper for Water, selling their gorgeous, one-of-a-kind origami pieces and using the proceeds to install clean water systems both here in the U.S. and abroad. We sat down with Katherine, 11, and Isabelle, 14, to learn more about Paper For Water and what’s next for the nonprofit in 2018.

Tell me about Paper for Water’s primary mission. 

IA: I think our main goal is to provide not only clean water to the thirsty around the world but to provide a way for people to help others here in the U.S. There are 1.6 million people in the U.S. who lack access to safe water or just water in general. That’s something we are trying to educate people on.

Where did you learn to create origami? 

KA: Our dad is half Japanese and was born in Japan. He grew up folding origami, and when I was 4, he taught me how to fold. It was just a fun craft to do with Dad, so we put it to good use.

You are Co-CEOs of Paper for Water. What does that entail and what are your job duties?

IA: We are basically the face of the organization. We go to events, speak, do social media posts, write thank-you letters, train volunteers, go to gift fairs. We really do pretty much whatever we can because obviously we can’t do the taxes and things like that. And we do a lot of origami!

What are the latest accomplishments for Paper for Water? 

IA: Getting into Neiman Marcus has been huge. We have funded over 150 water projects in 14 different countries. Here in the U.S., we were able to personally travel out to the Navajo reservation and help install a water system there.

What would you say to other kids who have a passion but feel that they are too young to make a difference?

KA: You are never too old or too young to make a difference, but you just have to start. You can dream all you want, but you have to take the initial action.

IA: The world water crisis is a huge, billion-dollar problem. But we just decided we were going to start and help a few people. It gradually got bigger because we didn’t give up. I think a lot of times people get overwhelmed with the immensity of a problem and never start. If the need seems huge, and it might be, just start anyway, and you never know what might happen.

What are your goals for 2018? 

KA: We are trying to expand our youth network, and we want to get more church groups and small groups involved.

IA: I think our goal is to create a curriculum so a youth group leader or a troop leader can go on our website and find instructions on how to start his or her own Paper For Water club. It will teach them how to fold, how to market the ornaments and how to sell them.