Lena Baunsgard, co-owner of Treasures in Heaven in Snoqualmie, was promoted to president and executive director of Planet Changer in November 2023.
Planet Changer, a nonprofit founded by Monty Wright in 2008, has built and maintains 120 wells along with several latrines in Uganda, and a few libraries in Cambodia.
Baunsgard first visited the Tororo District of Uganda — the region where most Planet Changer wells are located — in 2020.
“When you stand in Uganda around these communities, and you see how excited they are to have clean water and how basic a life they live, you feel the true gratitude for what God has provided them,” Baunsgard said. “It makes our work all that more meaningful.”
Upon returning, Baunsgard and her husband, Don Baunsgard, held a yard sale to raise funds for Planet Changer — an effort her husband started in 2013 after visiting Kasitu, Uganda, during a mission trip with the Snoqualmie Alliance Church.
“From that yard sale, we actually launched into what is now Treasures in Heaven,” Baunsgard said. “We were able to secure the location in Snoqualmie and start consistently donating money to Planet Changer. In the last three years alone, we’ve given about $120,000 to Planet Changer.”
Most donations to Planet Changer go toward purchasing and transporting well-building materials for construction, well-repairs, and the salaries of those involved.
Baunsgard recently retired from a 32-year military career, teaches at Timber Ridge Elementary School in Snoqualmie, and has previously participated as a member of the Planet Changer board. She believes her past leadership experience will prove valuable in her new role.
“I believe that Monty felt I had all the tools that it took to put the work in and to provide Planet Changer with good leadership,” Baunsgard said. “He selected me based on my passion for the mission and my capability to learn and step out a little bit in faith and trust God’s plan with Planet Changer.”
In the new year and the first months of her new position, Baunsgard is focused on compiling data for the past projects completed by Planet Changer to improve the public’s awareness and knowledge of its efforts.
Baunsgard, with her husband and stepdaughter, plans to visit Uganda in mid-February to participate in the ground-breaking of a new well.
While there, the Planet Changer team hopes to designate task management techniques to maintain integrity and accountability with their projects and finances.