My first rafting trip was so enjoyable and every one at Healing waters was so very nice that I just had to ask about volunteering with them. I have been volunteering with Healing Waters since 2011 and come back every year as a volunteer cook. I love the camaraderie of the volunteers and how welcome we make all the participants feel. Not only that, but we make some amazing meals and ensure that all the participants have a safe and memorable rafting trip.
Healing Waters is a great nonprofit that provides fun outdoor opportunities to underserved communities. The compassion, dedication and professionalism of the staff and volunteers is truly inspiring. The wilderness experiences created each excursion are memorable and truly unique. I am so grateful for Healing Waters and hope to hear many great things in the years to come.
Dear Healing Water,
I had a rafting at Healing Water twice, summer 2014 & 2015.
That was an amazing experience to soak myself in the nature, river, trees, and mountain soil. I ate each meal, hung out & surrounded the fire with other survivors, looked up the beautiful night sky, and slept in the tent. Personally, I had not enjoyed such a relief for long time because I was struggled with adoptation to new life in this country (different language&culture), and new transition as HIV positive gay man. Through the trip, I reconciliated with myself and be affirmed to be what I was and would to be, by the nature and many participants. Thank you!
I am still reminding my appreciation to many volunteers who are organizing this event, cooking out meals, and protect our safety during the trip.
They were and are creating so many fantastic moments.
One of the participants
Healing Waters is an amazing non-profit! They are dedicated to bringing an amazing outdoor experience to people who have never experienced white-water rafting, and for participants who's personal health concerns may limit them to experiencing the outdoors. I experienced people come away from a HWaters, exhausted from excitement, bonding, and kindness. Healing Waters is a true asset to our community!
This non-profit does not just touch lives, it saves them. Over the few years I have been involved with Healing Waters I have heard countless stories of empowerement, hope, awe, and community that the trips have brought clients and volunteers. Healing Waters changed my life and gave me the most inspiring family a person could hope for.
After my friend went on a Camp Lotus trip, his perceptions about his HIV changes and he started making positive changes with his health. I donated my to give scholarships to other people.
I love the healing waters community and the great impact we make each weekend. Many participants are on a fixed in come and appreciate the nutritious food, camp fires, opening and closing circles during the weekend where we all share our personal highlights of the weekend
I had heard of Healing Waters Wilderness Adventures right after it started from my roommate in 1996, who was HIV+. He had an amazing weekend, with great food, excellent guides and all the gear provided for the weekend. When he came back from the weekend he seemed more relaxed and at peace. He stated he felt rejuvenated.
After seeing the change in him, I have always recommended people to Healing Waters for a transformative, fun and safe experience with Healing Waters, whether it is whitewater rafting, sea kayaking, canoeing, hiking in the Redwood Forest, Cross Country skiing or snow shoeing.
When I had the opportunity, in 2014, to book a trip for my clients of Positive Force, a program of the San Francisco AIDS Foundation, I jumped at the chance. We brought up 20 participants, who loved it from the moment we arrived at camp. We were shown how to set up our tents, got our river gear, received a safety talk and instructions on how to be safe on the water. We ate a great lunch and then we were off down the river.
We splashed each other and swam while enjoying the river and being in the healing effects of the beautiful nature on the South Fork of the American River. We were greeted back in camp with homemade (actually camp made) fresh guacamole and chips while waiting for the guides to get back to camp and then had an incredibly fresh, healthy dinner.
Later, we enjoyed the camp fire, songs, stories and looking at the millions of stars in the Milk Way, because there were no city lights.
Before we boarded the van to go back to San Francisco, all 20 participants and my two staff members made me promise to bring them the following year. The next summer we brought up 50 people from three programs from the San Francisco AIDS Foundation. And they all LOVED IT!!!
Thank you to everyone at HEALING WATERS, the volunteers and the donors.
Healing Waters has profoundly changed the lives of so many. I have personally heard from trip participants that their experience has changed the way they viewed their recovery program and that their experiences had caused them to face life's challenges with strength. For more than 20 years the organization has been serving people with HIV and AIDS who largely live below the poverty line and also more recently the last few years people in addiction recovery programs. California faces so many challenges with income inequality and addiction, it is inspiring to see Healing Waters reaching out to so many and making a difference!
As a volunteer with Healing Waters Wilderness Adventures I watch the impact that it has on its communities with such admiration. I expected that it may take a while for me to see real impact through my volunteer hours, but the opposite happened. On my very first "client trip" where we took clients out on their white water rafting adventure (a first for many of our clients) and then camping afterwards, I had this amazing experience with a client. It was after dinner and I was helping to cleanup in the kitchen with other volunteers (who had just cooked an extraordinary meal for our clients after their rafting trip) and one of the clients approached me to tell me how amazing her day was (we'll call her "Mary" to protect her privacy). Mary was detailing to me how she had been addicted to drugs and alcohol off and on her entire adult life. It had impacted all of her relationships including the one with her son. She had been sober for 3 months (the longest in her life) and was feeling really positive about her future. Coming out on a Healing Waters Wilderness Adventure and experiencing the amazing healing power that nature offers was life changing for her and made her feel stronger about herself. She fought back tears as she described her ups and downs, and I asked if I could hug her. She consented and we both stood there hugging and crying while she shared how she was feeling. From Day One I knew that what we do makes a difference, and that Healing Waters Wilderness Adventures matters a great deal to the Bay Area communities that it serves. I'm extremely proud to volunteer with HWWA and know that I make a difference every time I show up.
This organization changed my life. I was at a place in my life where I didn't know how I was going to keep going I was tired I was scared and I was alone. Going on this trip was the last thing I had envisioned myself doing that weekend. It took everything I had to shove those necessary things into a bag and make it to the meeting point on time. I got into the back of the van and sat in a corner and just wanted to,I don't know,be any place other than my apartment. We get on the road and I try to be invisible-which does not work with these people. They were kind, they were attentive, they were interested in my comfort and my state of feeling. It felt good to have people around me even if I didn't want to admit it to myself.
What-I want to add is that I had the most amazing adventure. I couldn't have imagined the changes this weekend would make in my life. During our raft our boat got stuck- we had to be shuttled out of this craft and wound up on the far side of the river. There was already a setup picnic site there and while the leaders tried to free the boat four of us played Gilligan's Island. I got to be the Professor-
On our way down to the rescue boat, I found the freshly shed skin of a rattlesnake. How exciting! This is California it is dry out there- there are snakes. I never expected to see one but I am thrilled that snake energy came to me. I found this still soft skin and wound it up into my hat and brought that all the way back down the river intact-to take it home, moisturize it and preserve it. I still have that skin 5 years later and when I'm feeling lost and alone I simply need to look at that skin and remember those people and that weekend and know that I am not alone and I don't need to be scared. So much more happened that weekend that I'm not going to fill up all the space with, but please take this bit of experience, from me, that this is an amazing group, an amazing group of people and it probably saved my life.
Our leader that weekend was Garrison and i will always be deeply grateful for the closing ceremony and big hug he gave me. Thank you again Healing Waters, with tears streaming down my face, you changed me forever.