Veterans and Big Brothers/Big Sisters
In 2006 North Bay Trout Unlimited (NBTU) initiated a “Farm Pond Fishing Program” designed to provide fishing opportunities for underprivileged youth. Coupling with the Sid Hendricks ranching family of Petaluma our “Farm Pond Fishing Program” has now grown to include the Big Brothers / Big Sisters of the North Bay Area as well as disabled veterans from both the National Veteran’s Administration of San Francisco and our State Veteran’s Administration of Yountville, California.
Joining administratively with the Big Brothers and Big Sisters organization our NBTU
Volunteers have hosted Big Brothers and Big Sisters “Matches” from Marin, Sonoma and Solano counties. Many times other family members of the “Little’s,” that are registered within the Big Brothers and Big Sisters, come along with their children or other siblings. NBTU can never really specifically project participation numbers before any of our outings, but all who come are encouraged to actively participate.
After a few years of developing our youth program NBTU reached out to our two closest veteran’s clinics. Our goal with these veteran’s facilities was to provide “Pond Outings” for their clinical and residential “Shut-Ins.” Working closely with the “Head Recreation Therapists” at the San Francisco and Yountville clinics we identified the veterans with some of the most sever disabilities that would be candidates for a day on the ponds.
NBTU’s “Veteran’s Fishing Pond Outing” program started modestly, servicing only fifteen participants, which included veterans, some family members and one Veteran’s Administration staff official. At our last Veteran’s Fishing Pond Outing NBTU hosted eighty people, which included all of the above previously listed participants and four bus drivers! Needles to say the word is out at the veteran’s clinics and we see expansion on the horizon.
NBTU’s pond outings are more than just fishing for Trout and Bass that are cleaned and quick frozen to travel with our lucky anglers. Midway thru the day our volunteers provide a Bar B.Q. ed. lunch that includes Hamburgers, Hot Dogs, Casseroles, Various types of Salads, Desert and Drinks. For some the lunch is the highlight of their day as the fish may not be as cooperative as our lunch staff.
It has taken NBTU volunteers and the Hendricks family a few years to develop our Farm Pond Outing Program, but at this point in time we believe we have gotten it just right. After each event the outing coordinators solicit and act upon any suggestions that might make our next pond outing a better experience for all of the participants.
NBTU would like to send out a special thanks to the Sid Hendricks family for opening their ranch to us as well as all of our special participating organizations.