Serving Our Community – Hearing firsthand from our participants HOW kayak fishing and our program has helped them makes everything we do worthwhile.

Participant Success Story: How One Veteran Built a Fulfilling Career by Giving Back

“As veterans we have this thing, we can relate better with each other than most civilians. It’s this camaraderie that’s just beyond what most can comprehend.” That’s a quote from Army Veteran and HOW participant and volunteer, Rick Gonzalez. Rick, like many other veterans, found healing and friendship when he began attending HOW’s outdoor kayaking and fishing events. He is a wonderful part of our community and we are so grateful that he shared his powerful story with us. Read more about Rick here.

April: MyToastLife talks about HOW’s mission’s main goal is to share uplifting stories and this April, the site’s Shorey Andrews decided to highlight HOW. Andrews did a great job at highlighting HOW’s mission and he also touched on our goal of expanding our Therapeutic Programs in the future.

Participant Success Story: My Daughter is My Hero

Chenay Baxter-Clark is a retired EMT and the mother of a 1LT in the U.S. Army who has volunteered with HOW for years. “I think many people take for granted that the freedom and liberties we have are because of those members of the military we have standing behind us. It’s something I’ve always been drawn to supporting. Now, my daughter and son-in-law both serve it has become even more important to me.” Read more of Chenay’s story here.

Participant Success Story: Tales from the Frontlines

“I didn’t attend events like this because I didn’t see a correlation between kayaking and mental health.  I didn’t serve in the military and didn’t feel I deserved it.  And I didn’t want to take a seat that might prevent a worthy vet from participating.  Brian made me feel that I wasn’t violating any of these and gently and consistently kept inviting me.  I’m glad I went.  I haven’t had any earth-shattering Hollywood moments with tears and amazing sunsets on the horizon as I’ve realized my life’s purpose, but I’ve found something that is simple and relaxing that takes my mind off myself and my issues.  I’ve found a group that I can be a part of that doesn’t require all of my extra time outside or work and nobody makes me talk about my past.  I just show up and a part of my story is understood and accepted – just like that.  I’ve realized that my family wears scars from my job and my hurts.  I went out and bought a tandem kayak several months ago.  It’s been good for us.” Firefighter Matt Bagley’s powerful story of how his life has been impacted by HOW can be found here.

November: The “Invisible String” that connects HOW participants.

Andy Carpenter of Electric City Life wrote an amazing article referencing the “invisible string” that connects HOW participants. He beautifully captured the essence of our community when he talked about the bonds that our veterans, first responders and their families create while participating in our outdoor and kayaking experiences. Read full article here.

Learning More About our Community – Continuous learning is critical to better serving our community of heroes. We are always blessed to have our participants and volunteers.

July: Local 23 and HOW’s Rio Grande Valley Chapter discuss the benefits of supporting veterans

Rio Grande Valley Chapter members were candid in discussing the benefits of HOW to veterans and suicide prevention. Building a strong, positive community where our veterans and first responders feel safe and supported is our goal. Watch the interview here.

Participant Success Story: One Police Officer’s Journey to Heal

“Fishing and kayaking did something for me that nothing else could do.” Michael Libertini is a New York police officer who began to experience symptoms of Cumulative Post-Traumatic Stress and eventually began joining his local HOW chapter on kayaking events. Read more about his experience here.

Participant Success Story: PTS Was Considered a Sign of Weakness

HOW Chapter Coordinator, Eli Thomas, once believed that pts was a weakness. After he completed his service and later experienced the suicide of his cousin who also served in the National Guard, Eli was forced to recognize his symptoms. He shares his story of growth and perseverance with the help of the HOW community here.

Participant Success Story: Reflections of a 9/11 Survivor

Samantha Horowitz recounts her experience as a U.S. Secret Service Agent who was in Tower 1 on September 11, 2001 and the many ways that she was able to cope with PTS including HOW events. “I really did not know what I was doing, but my HOW experience was amazing. The volunteers know exactly what they are doing, and made it easy for me.” Read more here.

Supporting Our Community – our volunteers are the BEST! We absolutely could provide such amazing services to our participants without our volunteers.

March: The Daily Courier (AZ) spotlights HOW’s new Northern Arizona chapter.

After the Phoenix, AZ chapter shut down, Vietnam veteran, Dan McGowan, decided to open a new chapel in the Prescott, AZ area. We’re so glad to have this wonderful new chapter of dedicated volunteers serving the veteran and first responder community of Northern Arizona. Read article here.

Participant Success Story: Healing Through Volunteering

Camille Null, HOW’s Volunteer Program Coordinator has been part of the HOW community in some capacity for over 14 years. Camille shares heartwarming stories of HOW’s founder, Jim Dolan, as well as her own volunteer experience and the impact that the organization has had on her and her entire family. Read more here.

August: Successful and Creative Event Planning

August started off strong with HOW’s Central California Chapter gaining recognition from local news KSBY 6 for having a successful event at Avila Beach.

Later in the month, WCNT 9 shined light on HOW’s South Carolina Lowcounty Chapter’s overnight event.

In August, this Chapter held a kayaking and camping trip for veterans in the South Carolina Lowcounty region. While most events are day excursions, the chapter decided to change things up a bit by including camping, cooking breakfast onsite and enjoying the outdoors in different ways. This is such a great example of how chapters can get creative with event planning.

We are ending 2021 on a high note and looking forward to the many new memories and bonds that will be made at the HOW events to come in 2022. We hope that you continue to spread awareness about the support HOW offers and that you and your families enjoy the rest of the year.

Heroes on the Water is a 501(c)3 charity organization that introduces veterans, first responders and their families to a recreation that is therapeutic while providing a relaxing, fun experience. We introduce participants to the calming effects of being out on the water and provide tools through teaching that can be used to help cope with trauma, stress and other injuries. Click here to donate.

  1. Edward Murphy December 17, 2021 at 8:23 pm

    I tried to go to the event in November, but the weather was cold, windy, and raining. so everything was canceled. I would like to come to another event this upcoming year. I have never Kyaked fished before.

    • Heroes On The Water December 19, 2021 at 11:30 am

      Hope to see you soon at an event.

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