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Commander serves in daughter’s nonprofit

Drops of Love drills for water in Third World countries

Lt. Col. Kelli Smiley, right, 446th Force Support Squadron commander out of McChord Field, serves on the nonprofit’s board of directors under daughter Mariah’s “command.” /Courtesy photo

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Three years ago, when Lt. Col. Kelli Smiley's daughter was introduced to the world's water crisis, the 446th Force Support Squadron commander's daughter discovered $1 could potentially provide water to a person living in a third-world country for a year. This discovery flooded her with the inspiration to save lives - and her mother went with the flow.

Seventeen-year-old Mariah Smiley created Drops of Love, a nonprofit organization, when she was 14, which has the mission of drilling water wells for impoverished families in Africa and Central America. She set about raising funds and awareness about the water crisis, and started a grass roots movement to get others to follow.

"She is an amazing young woman who balances Drops of Love with her high-school classes, and she takes evening college courses to go along with other volunteer leadership roles as well," said the proud mom, an Air Force Reservist from McChord Field. "Mariah has a heart that inspires people."

The lieutenant colonel, an Air Force Academy graduate, who serves on the Drops of Love board of directors, says the entire Smiley clan is soaked in the mission.

"We love making a difference, so mission work and serving the community like this is a big passion of ours," she said. "Mariah is an example that any one, any age can make a difference in this world."

Drops of Love recently drilled a well in El Salvador, and since moving to Washington state, the company has already raised more than $20,000 and is currently working on funding a fourth well in El Salvador.

For more information on Drops of Love, visit

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