Our spark and passion come from our youth groups

Teen leadership and mentoring play a vital part in the mission of Wisdom Spring, and have from the very beginning when we started in 2003. Everything we do finds its source here. Although a focus every year is raising funds for water and education projects, our main work is the year-long support and skill-building experiences we steward for our youth groups. Not only providing opportunities to learn real-life skills they can carry with them but also providing a safe place for the expression of passions, struggles, and life goals. 

After 20 years we know from experience, and from past Teen Leaders, that the support the teen groups receive through Wisdom Spring is something they value for years to come. We strive to create opportunities that celebrate the gifts they bring to the world, even if they are just starting to understand them. We become allies. 

Our plan for the next 20 years, and beyond, is to continue to forge dynamic learning experiences with our Teen Groups and expand the opportunities to share their voice. We hope you join us in supporting this work financially, as well as with access to resources so these incredible leaders can thrive.  


Susan Hough – President and Youth Leader – Susan functions as our core mentor, leader, and counselor for the Teens on the East and West Coast since the beginning of the organization. She is an ongoing support and sounding board for the kids throughout the year. During the school year, she meets in person and through zoom meetings twice a week with groups from both coasts to inspire, develop, problem-solve, and coordinate the plans for our yearly fundraisers and initiatives, as well as works closely with them to create a safe place for sharing the challenges they face on a daily basis. Although the frequency of meetings is reduced during the off-school months, she is always available for counsel and support. We feel this role is essential for the Teens to feel they have an ally outside of school and home, someone that can be an independent mentor and friend.

Carlyle Coash – Board Member and Administrator – Since Carlyle coordinates the online presence for Wisdom Spring, and works with the online fundraising platforms, he collaborates with the Teen Groups regarding event planning initiatives. This involves goal setting, community outreach, and the development of media products for event promotion, especially social media elements. He also assists in bringing to fruition Teen Leader ideas and innovations that they develop throughout the year connected to Walking for Water and other events.


Teens on their radio show at KXFM


Since 2020, the Walking for Water club at Laguna Beach High School, working through local radio station KXFM, has developed a radio program that runs throughout the year called Walking for Water Teen Action. The program focuses on topics connected to current issues, community engagement, and challenges facing youth today.

Logo for KXFM



In the last few years, we have created opportunities for the Teens to receive mentoring from some of the best in their fields on every subject, as well as coaches who specialize in supporting others in seeing their gifts and passions. These individuals donate their time, resources, and expertise because they understand the deep value of inspiring youth and supporting them as they find their voice in this world. 

Some of our Mentors: 

Susan Brown – Local artist and Board Member of the Phen-Dey Foundation – Susan has worked with the teens exploring the creation of art and art-based projects, as a conduit for self-expression and skill building. She has also worked with them to understand the business aspect of artistic endeavors and how to sustain this particular life path. 

Charlie Leisure – Consultant – how to engage others, from sponsorships to engaging others in your community. Charlie also helped them develop tools to work with challenges in their lives and manage adversity. 

Veronique Porter – Wisdom Spring Board Member and Arts Advocate – Veronique has helped guide the Teen Leaders with art initiatives, helping guide the creative process in certain projects. Her background in developing supportive environments for artists has proved greatly beneficial, especially as a number of our Leaders are artists and creative people. 

Sarah Smelkinson – Fashion designer for Billabong and marketing specialist – one of the many wonderful things about Sarah is that she is one of our past Teen Leaders. It is such an honor to have a graduate who has applied skills she learned with Wisdom Spring into her adult life come back to offer support and guidance to the next generations. She has helped the teens learn about marketing, especially the engagement of the local business community. 

Stephen Thigpen – Business Consultant – Steve has worked one on one with a couple of students regarding the intricacies of running a business and how to engage business owners. Steve is also a generous donor, inspiring the teens in the practice of giving and philanthropy.

Robin Pierson – the art of writing and getting published. This especially focused on how to share your story and outreach to local news media and outlets. 

Ed Steinfeld – a producer at KXFM radio in Laguna Beach on designing a radio show, including production, editing, and scripting. He has helped tremendously with the Teens Radio Show on KXFM. 

Alyssa Hayek – General Manager and Afternoon Host at KXFM – Alyssa has lept in along with Ed to be an amazing mentor and guide for the Teens radio program. Who better to teach them the nuances of Radio than someone who is not only on-air regularly, but understands the business aspects of such a venture? We are blessed with such talent living in the Laguna Beach community, and our Teens from both coasts continue to learn from her wisdom. 

Robert Strock – consultant and Co-Founder of the Global Bridge Foundation – Robert has led numerous sessions with teens on both coasts focusing on working with emotions and emotional life, as well as levels of how to engage in successful projects. Robert has a wonderful way of speaking to the heart of the issues that resonate most deeply with the teens, giving them rare opportunities to process and share deeply about how to be in the world in a more engaged way.


This is where it all began, with a student from Heritage High School in Leesburg, Virginia. Kristen Wood had one direct thought – what if we walked for water? What if we walked to raise awareness and funds to make a difference? That idea led to an event that has raised money for over 20 wells. Today we still engage the same core schools, and those students are just as passionate.


Although formed more recently, the group of high school students from Laguna Beach, California have wasted little time in building a successful Walking for Water event over the last few years. They also work hard to engage community businesses in donating goods and services, many of which are offered in the large silent auction held alongside the walk itself. Their innovation is an inspiration.




 The youth are our future. It is an overly used phrase, but worth repeating. We can engage them and encourage their voices to sound out the concerns they have, or we can ignore that voice. Our Founder, Sobonfu Somé, understood the value of listening to this vital resource and finding inspiration. There is much we need to hear and learn from this important group




























Key to all the work we do with high school students in every community is the incredible work and mentorship of parents, teachers and local business owners. They are the ones working out problems and encouraging the students to resolve challenges and inspire others. We are deeply grateful for this group of adults who go beyond the call of duty and help make these events a success.

Thank you from Dupgued Chophelling Monastery for our help creating a well near Nagpur, India

Frequently Asked Questions

Learn How To Get Involved!

Can I create an event IN my school?

You sure can! Someone from Wisdom Spring will work with you to figure out the feasibility of a project and walk you through some core questions. Feel free to contact us for ways to do this.


Not necessarily. There are many ways to create a fundraising event. Kids have created art auctions, made and sold special items like hats and tee-shirts, or created online campaigns. Part of the process is working to brainstorm with you to encouage your own creativity.


Yes. Generally at least once a year we go to the communities we support to see what is happening on the ground. Because we are a small organization, we do not have staff stationed in those countries. We rely on local partners to help oversee projects and make sure the work is being done as promised.

Are You A Religious Organization?

No. Our founder Sobonfu Somé was a spiritual teacher who spent many years teaching about ritual and community building in the West. However, in the creation of this organization she wanted to make sure the focus was on being of service and telling the stories from her community and any others we might work with. We do not push any agenda or require communities to adopt any doctrine.

Can I travel to the communities you support?

Although we are working on ways to bring the youth groups we work with to the countries we serve, we generally do not because of cost and safety. It is good to be inspired, and at the same time essential to make sure that you have proper support and connections to a community you travel to. We are open to talking more if organizing a trip is important for your group.

DO People Really Walk That Far for Water?

YES!!!! We have walked some of those paths with the children and women who must walk every day — sometimes several miles each way — just to bring home a container of water. It is not something made up, but is in fact a hard reality for many in the world.