As a way of recognizing the tens of thousands of volunteer hours given each year to Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing by our talented and caring volunteers, PHWFF has instituted the Outstanding Volunteer Award. Each year, one volunteer from each of PHWFF’s 14 regions is selected for this honor. We extend a sincere thank you to Temple Fork Outfitters for their support of our program and for providing each award recipient with the rod of their choice. PHWFF thanks all of our volunteers and congratulates each of these deserving recipients.
National Capital Area
Kiki Galvin has been volunteering for PHWFF for more than four years now in various capacities to include guiding for the 2-Fly Tournament to being a member of the Board of Trustees. Her being named the National Capital region volunteer of the year comes from her volunteer work with the Walter Reed program in Bethesda, MD. For the past two years Kiki has helped with the weekly instruction that we provide on fly fishing and fly casting for our wounded military personnel in our program at that location. She has hardly ever missed a session and has been one of our most consistent and dependable volunteers. We thank her for her dedication and support of PHWFF!
New England Region
E. Donald ("Don") Taylor
Don Taylor, a member of the Kennebec Valley Chapter of Maine Council, Trout Unlimited, has been a regular, scheduled volunteer in the Togus PHWFF program since 2008 and has been the lead instructor for each of the three PHWFF Rod Building Contests held since Winter 2008/09. In each of the three years, Don, on his own initiative and at his own expense in time and materials, designed and built a rod building stand and presented it to each veteran constructing a rod, a total of 32 so far. The fact that six of 32 Togus rod builders have placed first, second, or third in their judging categories and won out-of-state trips as prizes is a tribute to the quality of Don's instruction and his experience as a rod builder himself.
Don and his wife Nancy are both Registered Maine Fly Fishing Guides and they both are faithful in their participation in fly tying classes and support of trips. They have opened their home and Don's personal rod building work shop to any Togus PHWFF veteran participant and on any given day two or three may be found there working on new rods, including several built on bamboo blanks sourced through Don, wooden rod storage tubes, and other woodcrafts.
Don is also the first to volunteer to man the PHWFF booth at the LL Bean Fishing Expo in Freeport, Maine each March and has done so for a full day on three occasions. He has also introduced a group of our participants to the Catskill Fly Fishing Museum in Livingston Manor, NY of which he is a member, and, with a group of our most committed participants, organized a PHWFF fundraising and publicity presentation at the venue last April when the museum offered a special week of programs for veterans.
Don Taylor is a retired Army combat engineer officer and a Vietnam veteran. He has a special place in his heart for disabled veterans which manifests in his devoted and selfless commitment to the success of the Togus VA Maine Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing Program.
Rick is the Program Lead for the Cherokee Chapter located in Western North Carolina. He is a Jackson County native, having grown up fishing the waters of WNC. After attending Western Carolina University, he served 10 years in the Marine Corps as an officer and helicopter pilot, including tours in Operation Desert Storm and Mogadishu, Somalia. After the Marine Corps, he attended Wake Forest Law School, and now practices with a firm in Waynesville, NC. Rick joined the PHWFF team in the fall of 2009 as a volunteer for the Asheville Program. His love for fishing, dedication to his fellow soldiers and eagerness to share his skills have made him a favorite among participants and volunteers alike and the 2012 Volunteer-of-the-Year.
The Virginias Region
Bob has been the Program Lead at Huntington VAMC since we established a program at the center. The program is now two years old and growing by leaps and bounds. Bob has been very successful in setting up fly tying, casting, rod building and leader building programs. This year his vets built 10 rods in the national contest in addition to 10 others. This program is one of the top rod building programs within PHWFF. This is amazing given this is the first year the center ever built rods.
He has developed a great relationship with the VA staff. This has resulted in motivating the RT to apply for a VA Grant which resulted in the center winning a $2,700 grant. The funds will be used to purchase equipment needed in the program. I believe this is a first in the nation and sets a precedent that can impact many of the programs in the VA system by helping reduce our local program cost.
Bob is a willing volunteer offering to get involved in any new idea or project we develop that will improve the overall success of the program. The beta test in leader building is a good example. Bob has provided important feedback on the way to reduce cost and yet still allow the vets to gain this skill.
In the past year the program has had great trips for vets to Harman Cabins, Guilford Foundation Susie Q Farms and Back Creek. In addition three of the vets have attended National Trips.
Bob has established contact with Marshall University where disabled vets are enrolled. The VA will be working them into the PHWFF events held at the center. Also, Bob has taken part in three CFC events promoting PHWFF.
PHWFF as well as this Region is very fortunate to have Bob White as an outstanding volunteer. Great job, well done, Bob!
Jim Wallace has been a leader and visionary in support of veteran causes for over a decade. Specifically, he has been an invaluable asset to PHWFF: raising money, driving awareness, recruiting others and faithfully participating in all activities.
Jim’s compassion and support for veterans took on new meaning in 2007 when Lt. Dan Riordan was killed in action in Iraq. Dan’s sister was married to Jim’s son. From this ultimate sacrifice Jim decided to take direct action and help, to be part of the solution and aid the healing. This action manifested itself in multiple ways.
In summary, Jim goes way beyond the call of duty. As a direct result of his compassion for veterans and his tireless efforts on behalf of PHWFF, the St. Louis Chapter is proud – and grateful - to submit Jim as 2012 Volunteer-of-the-Year.
7,000 flies. One man. By the end of 2012, John Woodling reached the astonishing number of seven thousand flies tied and donated to Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing.
He began in March of 2011 when he heard of a national tie-a-thon that was tying flies for PHWFF. He pledged to send 200 flies for that event, but kept going until he reached 1,500 flies. He liked the idea of tying flies for disabled veterans, so John went to the PHWFF website and contacted PHWFF. Because he lives in Southern California, he was referred to the RC for that region, who is also the PL for the nearest PHWFF program. He was invited to come to PHWFF classes at the Long Beach Casting Club so that he could meet the participants and the rest is history. Each week he brings another 100-200 flies, all beautifully tied. At the time of this writing, he has hit 7,000 flies – but he’s still tying.
John is now a regular volunteer and helps with the weekly classes in rod building, tying and casting. He offered to be the lead instructor for fly tying classes in the fall of 2012, during which he donated all the materials used by all the participants. In addition to filling the fly boxes of the veterans in the Long Beach PHWFF program, his flies have been sent to other programs in the region, and used as raffle items to help fund the program.
Mere words are so inadequate to express how we feel about his generosity and commitment. John Woodling is an extraordinary Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing volunteer.
Rocky Mountain Region
Ken Iwamasa has been with the Denver Program of Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing since 2011. Since that time he has become fully involved as a volunteer in several areas. He began his work as a volunteer fly tier at the VA hospital and later at the Jewell Clinic. Later that year he led classes and helped lead trips and outings. All of that year he was always ready to assist in any way needed.
In 2012, Ken took the lead to develop a comprehensive casting class that helped not only the new veteran participant to learn the art but also allowed the veterans that had some experience as fly casters to become more efficient. This allowed the veterans to be more relaxed while learning the rest of fly fishing. Ken also had discussions with the city of Denver Parks and Recreation to establish locations to conduct these classes and provide a better learning experience.
He also developed a program and relationships with the hospital staff that allowed our volunteers access to the in-patient wards in area Five South of the VA Hospital. Five South is the critical care unit at the Denver VA. Patients in this wing are recovering from major trauma including accidents, strokes, and recent amputations. The veterans are all in wheelchairs and many are being fitted with prostheses and learning to walk again. The veterans in this unit come mainly from Western States.
Ken Iwamasa started the Project Healing Waters Program in this unit by himself. He developed a presentation to familiarize the vets with the PHWFF program and fishing related activities that volunteers can do with the veterans in this unit given their physical restrictions and a hospital environment. Casting at nurses with the yarn practice rods that we leave with the vets has become a new sport on Five South. The vets are rather amazed that casting with yarn translates into their ability to cast with a real rod when we take them outside. Ken has recruited other PHWFF volunteers for the unit so that now we have one-on-one instruction for casting and fly tying on Five South on a weekly basis.
After observing the limited shoulder motion of many of the patients Ken obtained a Tenkara rod for use on our outings. The rod was a big hit on a recent fishing trip to a lake. One veteran was able to catch over a half dozen fish with the rod and Ken's instruction. The smile on the veteran’s face as he cast and caught fish while balancing on his newly fitted prosthesis was an exclamation point to Ken's off repeated PHWFF motto "It's about the vets."
Ken took charge and led the volunteers and veterans to set up booths and provide examples of our services to the VA community at the Veterans Family Day with demonstrations of fly tying, casting and rod building. As a volunteer, Ken’s contribution to the Fly Fishing Film Fest helped it become the premier event that provided over $17,000 in donations and contributions to the Denver Program.
Ken is also a member of the local planning board that helps lead the Denver Program, providing ideas and volunteering for several committees that have helped the Denver Program grow to what it is today.
Western NY/PA Region
The Volunteer-of-the-Year Award for the Western New York Western Pennsylvania Region was presented to Skip Hughes, Program Lead for the Erie, Pennsylvania, VA program. Skip has shown a unique passion and dedication to Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing. After a long search for a PL in Erie, we were fortunate to find Skip, who has conducted a number of trips for our vets, as well as regular fly tying and casting instruction. He is also active in fund raising.
Jan is the “go-to” gal in Alaska. She is truly dedicated to PHWFF and the veterans of Alaska. She always provides the support and information needed to run this program.
The PHWFF program in Anchorage is a team effort. During the past, she served as Co-Lead with Damond Blankenship of the Anchorage PHWFF program. Their shared leadership is very unique. Damond is a fishing guide on the Kenai River (approximately 3 hours from Anchorage), which means that he works from May 1st through October 20th and is not available to provide daily support to the program. During this time period, Jan functions as the PL and coordinates all fishing trips.
Being a small program, Jan helps out whenever needed. She serves as the financial point-of-contact and approves and process all purchase orders, reimbursements, fund-raisers, grants, and donations, and maintains a database on participants. Due to the large number of fishing businesses and generosity of guides and owners, they receive numerous trip donations. She also assists at the tying and casting clinics and does special programs on float tubing and fishing for “red salmon.”
The Volunteer of the Year Award 2012 was presented to Jill Chavooshian who is a founding member of our local program in New York City since 2008! Jill is always ready and willing to offer her time, energy and expertise to coordinate events and maintain communication with participants and volunteers. Jill is the lead for our Communication Committee: she completes the minutes for our monthly volunteers meetings, maintains current contact information for all participants and volunteers, and calls folks before every session and event, not only to encourage attendance, but also as a "reminder" to those with memory impairments. Her enthusiasm and dedication to our mission is an inspiration to all of us.
Tennessee Valley Region
Volunteer Tommy Hogan is a veteran with 4 years of service with the US Naval Aviation group. Three years ago, Tommy was one of three Middle TN Fly Fisher members who volunteered to help start PHWFF in Nashville, TN. Tommy not only participated with the Nashville program but helped start the program with the WTU at Ft Campbell, KY. He also has volunteered his time in helping Rhonda Page with the Murfreesboro, TN program. For the past two years, Tommy has been in charge of the annual Middle TN PHWFF outing on the Caney Fork River that has grown from 12 veterans to 30 veterans last year. Also in 2012, at the Nashville Boat and Fishing Show he raised over $500 in one day. In July 2012 he was appointed the Program Lead for Ft Campbell and Nashville PHWFF programs. Tommy is a great asset to PHWFF and is well deserving of receiving the Volunteer-of-the-Year Award for the TN Valley Region.
Congratulations to our 2012 honorees.
Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing, Inc. is dedicated to the physical and emotional rehabilitation of disabled active military service personnel and disabled veterans through fly fishing and associated activities including education and outings.
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