Heroes on the Water folks love this time of year. The buds pop on the trees, blossoms emerge, and the fish really start biting. We emerge from our winter slumber ready to embrace our springtime events that allow us to serve more warriors through kayak fishing, camaraderie and community.
Spring also represents growth, and HOW is no exception. We are adding new chapters, volunteers and leadership every week. Which is why it is so exciting to have a seasoned HOW Nation leader now part of the chapter operations support team.
Meet Amber Helms – HOW Area Coordinator
Amber, along with her husband Rusty, and Casey Fugett started the NE Oklahoma chapter in November of 2012. In keeping with their passionate and focused style, they held their first event just a few short months later in February. Amber believes it is the passion that started and keeps the chapter going some four years later.
“Rusty and Casey visited the DFW chapter just to get a feel and came back fired up,” said Amber. “After that we immediately submitted our paperwork to become a chapter, and then began telling everyone about the power of this organization. It was amazing how quickly and easily everything came together.”
Amber said that people just showed up, volunteering their time, their kayaks, and their support.
“We always seemed to have an abundance of what we needed. Whether it was kayaks or support, it was like loaves and fishes. God works in mysterious ways.”
Through mostly word of mouth, the NE Oklahoma chapter has successfully supported a number of warriors and their families through community-focused events.
“It’s important to me that I can recognize the people showing. That I know the kids’ names, and remember what is going on in their lives,” said Amber. “It’s that close-knit family feel that really helps us to support our veterans.”
Yet Amber felt there was more to do, so when the opportunity became available for her to apply for the Chapter Area Coordinator position, she jumped on it.
“I love this organization, and firmly believe in what we do. We make a huge difference every day, so if I can help at a larger level, I’m totally in,” said Amber.
Amber is no stranger to the nuances of HOW and the dedication it takes to step into the area coordinator role.
“I have been in chapter leadership, plus served on various chapter advisory teams, which really helped prepare me to take on this role,” said Amber. “There is nothing that has been a surprise, simply because I’ve been working to make improvements for chapters since I started in 2012. Area coordinator seems like a natural progression in my HOW journey.”
Taking Action To Empower Growth
Amber is not one to shy away from stepping up or speaking up. She is dedicated to providing a voice for the chapters to ensure that all viewpoints are heard and considered.
“Each chapter has their own personality, and yet we all still are part of a national, growing organization. I want to ensure that we are able to support our chapters effectively to support warriors, which is our primary focus,” said Amber. “Keeping that family environment at the chapter level means joining the operations team and joining us together as one big family. Then we can accomplish really great things!”
Amber recognizes how well HOW works, and therefore the potential for major growth, as well as national media attention. She also recognizes that everything is about getting that on person on the water to positively impact a life, and a family. Maybe even save a life.
“We are all equal and doing a wonderful job. And we are all helping by staying focused on what is best for our chapters, our warriors, and our organization as a whole,” said Amber. “I’m excited to be a part of this and help as many people as possible.”
As someone who has “been there, done that,” Amber has some sage advice for chapter leadership:
“For seasoned chapters, you have to be ready to adapt. We all need to recognize that to keep the momentum going sometimes requires change. It also means you have support and should feel free to reach out to your area coordinator for whatever you need,” said Amber. “We are here for you.”
Amber realizes how much change has occurred over the years and knows how it can impact each chapter.
“When I started as a chapter leader, there was not much communication between national and chapters. However, that has changed, and as someone who has gone through a lot of change over the last four years, I am dedicated to being here for all the chapters to ensure you get what you need to be successful.”
For new chapters, Amber has different advice:
“Be prepared for some bumps in the road, but don’t let that get you down. Reach out to your area coordinator or other chapters for help. More than likely someone has dealt with the challenge you are having. If not, there are a lot of smart people in this organization who are happy to help. We are here for you!”
Amber has seen a lot, done a lot, and is ready to do more.
“I’m excited to be a part of Heroes on the Water and can’t wait to see where we go from here!”