Mitzvot from the Heart: Michael Schmitz

For his mitzvah project, Michael Schmitz decided to raise money for, an organization co-founded by  actor Matt Damon, which works to provide clean, safe drinking water for communities around the world.   

Michael Schmitz, Congregation B’nai Amoona

Michael is totally committed to the significance and urgency of the world water problem and has become very involved in fundraising for This organization was co-founded by Matt Damon and Gary White and has been helping people develop sustainable solutions for more than 20 years. Michael is the son of Jen and Jeffrey Schmitz of Chesterfield and attends Crestview Middle School.

What follows are Michael’s thoughts about his mitzvah project:

Many people don’t know about the tragedy that unsafe water is playing out every day, all over the world.  I believe that provides the game-changing ideas and best solutions to this crisis.  It provides the tools that people need to help themselves and their families.  

I don’t think that charity alone can solve this problem, but providing people with strategies and access to financial resources is what this organization does better than anyone else.  When we contribute to we are helping guarantee micro-financing loans offered by partnering financial institutions to individuals, families, and communities to develop long term water resources.

Every 21 seconds, a child dies from a water-related illness; 780 million people — about one in nine — lack access to clean/safe water; more than 3.4 million people die each year from water, sanitation, and hygiene-related causes, with 99 percent of these deaths occurring in the developing world.  About 2.5 billion people don’t have access to a toilet.  

I became passionate about this project and began preparing my fundraiser in February 2014 – I have already raised more than $2,400.  I first gathered information about the various water project charities and how they work, and made a decision to support because it empowers people.  Then I developed a website, ordered wrist bracelets (“I care about the world, do you?”) to distribute to serve as a reminder to people about the importance of the project. 

I also designed posters and flyers to be placed in schools, synagogues, grocery stores, coffee shops such as Starbucks and Kaldis.  I sent out many emails to friends and family members and contacted KSDK about my project. 

This project truly speaks to me – I believe that solving the world’s thirst for clean, safe water and sanitation needs to be a top priority of humanity and it’s something we can definitely get done. 

The solution isn’t just digging wells for people because long-term solutions are needed, and people need to participate in the whole process.  

The approach is to help families and villages get financing for permanent access to clean and safe water – this empowers people and adds financial stability and vitality to their communities and their lives. 

For more information about Michael’s project, visit