McAllen native, The Vampire Diaries star announce donation of rainwater catchment system in Peñitas

Local News

PENITAS, Texas (ValleyCentral) – A McAllen native returned home to announce a surprise donation of a rainwater catchment system that will be installed in the Peñitas ‘colonias’.  

Residents of Peñitas and board members from the Proyecto Desarollo Humano sat with former Miss Texas 2015 from McAllen, Ylianna Guerra Dadashi, 28, and members of the Heart Water Foundation, to talk about the lack of purified water in the area, Tuesday morning.  

Proyecto Desarollo Human (PDH) is a non-profit organization dedicated to helping underserved residents living below the poverty line in the colonias of northern Peñitas. 

The Heart Water Foundation is a non-profit organization, founded by Dadashi and her husband, Michael Dadashi, aimed at improving “the lives of children suffering from extreme poverty, disease, and families of addiction.” The Dadashi’s are also founders of Heart Water, an Austin-based bottled rainwater company.  

During a roundtable discussion, the residents and Sisters from PDH told the Dadashis and members of the Heart Water Foundation about their struggles accessing clean drinking water. Bottled water is the main source of drinking water for these residents, and some do not have the means to get it.  

The Dadashi’s were joined by The Vampire Diaries actress and UN Ambassador, Kat Graham.  

“To say it’s an amazing company is an understatement. It’s not only sustainable, but it’s a company that focuses on giving back and they make that a huge part of their purpose,” said Graham.  

Only the Director of Proyecto Desarollo Humano, Shirley Arnold, knew why the Foundation was visiting.  

After listening, the Foundation explained to the residents and Sisters the benefits of collecting rainwater and purifying it as a reliable source of drinking water. Guerra Dadashi then broke the news to the residents and board members that they would be donating a rainwater catchment system to the non-profit to serve the families in the colonias of Peñitas. 

“This is going to be the first-ever rainwater harvesting facility that [The Heart Water Foundation has] donated,” said Dadashi. “We wanted the very first to be at Proyecto.” 

Guerra Dadashi says she was introduced to the area during her time as Miss Texas USA and Miss Rio Grande Valley. 

“I came and saw the community I was really impacted by not only seeing the homes but by learning that only 30 minutes from where I grew up, that they don’t have, aside from clean drinking water, they don’t have running water in general,” said Guerra Dadashi. “I thought that this would be the perfect opportunity to start for Heart Water technology and bring it back to the Rio Grande Valley.”  

According to the Foundation, purified rainwater is the cleanest form of drinking water as it has never come in contact with the ground that can be contaminated with anything from pharmaceuticals and harmful metals. They add most common purification techniques do not eliminate these contaminants.  

The Foundation toured the area with the Sisters to figure out the best way to meet the community’s needs. During this trip to the Valley, the Foundation’s goal was to figure out how many people needed to be serviced and how big of a system will be needed. They added that they would also take charge of the maintenance of the system.  

“Today was an amazing event,” said Arnold. “The community people are going to get clean water… this is going to change their lives.” 

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