ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — It was one of Karen Flewelling’s former students who nominated the now-retired Shaker High School coach and teacher. They noted, “Flew” as she is affectionately known, made it a point to give each player their special moment during the season and that it’s about time she got her “day”.

Karen Flewelling is modest when she says, “I’m just really fortunate to know so many nice young ladies.”

The feeling is mutual when you read how much she meant to them as they signed a framed team photo for her, “Grateful to you always” one wrote. But it is after retirement that her impact became global.

Flew volunteered for years with an international environmental charity before starting her own called Drilling for Hope. The plan to bring fresh water to remote areas where there was none would have a ripple effect.

“Girls stay in school if they have water nearby,” Flewelling pointed out. “The onus is on them and their mothers to walk for miles and get dirty disgusting water so now I’m funding wells at schools so it will be easily accessible. The girls remain in school, and it’s working.”

Over the years Flew has flown to 22 countries in Central and South America, Africa and Asia, funding more than 137 wells and water systems before expanding her mission to include school supplies or whatever is needed in a particular community.

“That little girl was so happy I can’t tell you,” Flewelling said as she shared a picture of a smiling little girl holding her new books and pencils. “They get so excited when they get something they can write with.”

For other students, “Drilling for Hope has been funding four young women in midwifery school, and one young woman in medical school all in Ghana,” shared Flewelling. “These women don’t get a lot of chances to make money, to be able to go to college if they are funded by drilling for hope they then go back and help their communities and that’s what this is about.”

Speaking of funding, Flew pays for all her travels herself, every penny raised for Drilling for Hope goes right back into the next project, and the next young woman she meets, as she seeks to help, “I want them to be the future of their country.”