The Ripple Effect: Families are Stronger
When Jennifer Nolan enlisted into the Navy at 17 years old, she intended to make that her lifelong career. However, two years into her service, she became pregnant, and realized that her life plans were going to change.
Today she still utilizes her Navy training as a photographer, but her life is much different.
“Even though my time in the military was not long, I found meaningful friendships. The military became my family, and even today I feel aligned with my fellow veterans,” said Jennifer. “When I was looking for a way to stay connected and found Heroes on the Water, I knew I had to get more involved.”
As many of our veterans and active-duty military, Jennifer has struggled with depression and anxiety. Volunteering with Heroes on the Water has created an outlet for her and her family while supporting her in healing herself.
“HOW really touched my heart. Being able to connect with veterans is important, and then having the ability to also create space to connect with my children is even better,” said Jennifer.
Jennifer home schools her children, and has passed on her love for the outdoors to all of them. She firmly believes that ensuring you have activities with your children where connection and fitness is at the center is important.
“We are already an outdoorsy family. Since I home school, we can take field trips to the beach or nearby pond and connect with each other,” said Jennifer. “Each child can focus on what he or she desires while learning the importance of being in nature. It helps all of us stay more grounded.”
Family Time That Gives Back
“When we are at a HOW event, it’s like being at the dinner table. No one gets up until everyone is finished. It’s the same on the water. When someone catches a fish, everyone is excited for them. It gives us time to be real,” said Jennifer.
“When you are out fishing you are not worried about appearances. There are no televisions, phones or tablets. You can separate yourself from the rigors of daily life. It really allows us to be creative.”
Her children are learning the importance of preservation, and will often go and clean up the local beaches. They are also learning the power of giving back.
“My 12-year-old son realizes we are so lucky, and wanted to give back. He started Kidzfish2 so we can teach other children how to fish,” said Jennifer. “We got a Texas Parks and Wildlife Department certification for the organization, he has a Facebook page and now he teaches other kids, both at HOW events and other day camps, the joy of fishing.”
“He showed a 4-year-old how to fish and that day he caught his first one. The boy was so excited. Having my children be so passionate about fishing and the outdoors and helping others is amazing to watch!”
HOW 4 Families
Jennifer is enthusiastic about Heroes on the Water and wants to do everything she can to support the organization.
“I did not go to a HOW event intending to become a volunteer, but after seeing the positive impact first hand, I knew I had to do everything in my power to support them,” said Jennifer. “Whether it’s help with paperwork, organize events, or just getting the word out, I want as many veterans and their families to know about HOW.”
The focus on family, whether it’s your spouse and children, your close friends, your military family, even the family dog, is an important part of who Heroes on the Water is and how we serve.
“It does not matter if you have ever fished, or kayaked, the events are geared to help you learn both,” said Jennifer. “It’s really the environment, the family feeling, that helps you feel more complete. I feel like I’m able to put the puzzle pieces of my life back together more easily through the support of HOW.”
Heroes on the Water is passionate about serving veterans, active-duty military and their families through the therapeutic benefits of our kayak fishing experiences. We cannot do that without the support of our amazing volunteers, like Jennifer. We also need your support to ensure we can keep our veterans and their families whole.
We believe that the ripple effect of supporting our veterans improves the lives of family members, increases the ability for communities to thrive, and positively impacts the economy of our great nation. By giving back to Heroes on the Water on September 20th, you’ll allow us to help more veterans and their families!