WARSAW — At the age of 36, Warsaw native Jay Hocking has already lived a full life all over the world. Based in an office in Portland, Ore., Hocking shared favorite memories of Winona Lake and Warsaw, the town his family calls “home base” even after living in France, Africa and Oregon.
Hocking works as the communications director for a Warsaw-based not-for-profit organization called Water for Good. He uses his education in graphic design each day to assist the organization with social media, web pages, designs and fundraising and other daily tasks as they come. WFG was founded in 2004 by Jay Hocking’s father, Jim Hocking.
Although Jay Hocking was born in Warsaw, he left his Winona Lake home with his family at the age of 5 to live in France. After just a couple years, Hocking moved to the Central African Republic, a small African country, where he lived until the age of 17. Hocking’s mother homeschooled him until his high school years, but he gained much more life experience during his time in Africa. Central African Republic has been an unstable country since 1960, according to BBC, and is run under militias or a total lack of government. Sanitation and hygiene are primary concerns for the country.
Hocking joined WFG as a part-time employee in 2008, and recently accepted the full-time position as communications director. He works out of an office in Portland, but travels to the Central African Republic one or two times each year, staying between two and four weeks each visit. During those times, he stays in the heart of the activity. Since Hocking has learned to communicate in both French and Sangho, the native CAR language, he is able to speak with the very people the organization is helping. WFG has provided more than 640 water pumps throughout the country, providing clean water for men, women and children who never had it before. “It makes such a huge impact on a village,” said Hocking, adding being able to see how it helps is “very rewarding.”
When talking about his personal goals, they seem to intertwine closely with those of the organization. Hocking said he and the entire team hope to see the project become more sustainable. Currently, donors from around the world are helping fund wells. In the larger scheme of things, Hocking wants to see all 4.7 million citizens of the Central African Republic have access to clean water. The organization currently provides it for about 10 percent of those people.
Hocking spends most of his time working with donors, often taking them to the water sites when he travels to the Central African Republic. Although Hocking said he isn’t often fearful for his safety, the country has been at war for about three years. WFG has an educated staff based in the country who are able to provide advice and safe resources for those who come to work and stay.
When he has free time, Hocking said he and his wife, Deborah, a children’s book illustrator, love to go hiking and camping. “We try to do as much exploring as possible here,” laughed Hocking. He also spends time cycling, although he admitted the Winona Lake trails systems are hard to beat. He likes to frequent those when he gets a chance to visit “home base.”