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2019 Top-Rated Nonprofit

Heroes on the Water

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Centers to Support the Independence of Specific Populations, Human Services, Mental Health, Mental Health & Crisis Intervention, Recreation & Sports, Sports

Mission: To help warriors relax, rehabilitate, and reintegrate through kayak fishing and the outdoors. Heroes on the Water has helped thousands of our nation's warriors overcome difficulties associated with post traumatic stress, traumatic brain injury and the stresses of daily life. HOW empowers veterans and first responders to decompress and reconnect with themselves, their family, and become part of a lifelong community.

Results: In 2018, we provided 7,072 warriors and 2,598 family members a chance to unwind and enjoy the benefits of our kayak fishing program. As a national program, volunteer-led chapters deliver the program in over 30 states. During the life of our program we have supported 41,572 warriors and 11,142 family members. Our team of 31,715 volunteers have provided 339,281 volunteer hours for a total volunteer value of $7,829,572.

Target demographics: Veterans, first responders and their families relax, rehabilitate and reintegrate

Direct beneficiaries per year: 7,645 warriors and 2823 family members.

Geographic areas served: Locations across the U.S.A.

Programs: Kayak fishing in the outdoors. The program is provided at no cost to veterans, first responders or their families.

Community Stories

106 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

Leslie Cohen S.

Board Member

Rating: 5

I'm honored to be a part of such an amazing organization, and to help guide and preserve the health of HOW's mission.

I'm passionate about supporting our veterans, active military, first responders and their families through this non-traditional therapy. I love the opportunity to volunteer at chapter outings and events, to reunite and develop new relationships.
#PaddleFishHeal #HOWNation

Board Member

Rating: 5

I’m proud to be associated with an organization focused on providing an experience that allows veterans and their families to escape the daily grind once in awhile. The premise is fundamental — “Let’s Go Fishing” — no pressure, no expectations, no requirements — simply an opportunity to join like minded folks for a day of water, fishing and fellowship.

MCastaneda

Volunteer

Rating: 5

My husband and I started to volunteer back in 2014 with the Coastal Bend Chapter out of Corpus Christi, TX. Travis Matthews the Coordinator at the time welcomed my husband and I as if we were family. Usually there is a getting to know period and seeing where you'll fit in not with Heroes on the Water. The atmosphere at that first event we volunteered at and the months that followed had the same welcoming and family feel. Everyone pitching in to make each event a happy, fun and safe event for our veterans and their family. Since then my husband and I started the Rio Grande Valley Chapter in March of 2015. We started out as Coordinator and Assistant Coordinator and have now taken on the roles of Treasurer and Secretary. We have been extremely blessed by serving our RGV veterans and their families. The family atmosphere has not changed over time and continues with our new Coordinator and Team Leaders many of which have been with us for over 3 years. PADDLE. FISH. HEAL. It's simple and offers so much to each of our participants.

Joe A.3

Volunteer

Rating: 5

When I meet some of the volunteers I knew I had to try it. It’s been almost 5 years now and I still volunteer and go to the events. The Rio Grande Valley chapter has been a second family to me. I have friends I can turn to and talk to during hard times.

ddeluna10

Volunteer

Rating: 5

After 12 years and 4 tours in the Marines, my brother came home. His transition to civilian life with the effects of his experiences in battles he’d been in as a tanker would not be an easy one. But one day he met Rudy and Mary Castaneda and with a love of fishing and adventure, he joined HOW RGV on events and asked my husband to join him. I saw the positive effect on my brother and am grateful for the blessing that they are on his life. He has since earned a degree, is married and a new father. I joined as a Veteran/Volunteer shortly after my brother began to be able to bless others in return. HOW RGV is an amazing and beautiful family I’m grateful to be a part of.

Previous Stories
2

Volunteer

Rating: 5

My husband and I started volunteering after my brother started fishing with them! We believe in what they are doing and when we are able, whether my brother is fishing in the event or not, we offer support.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Since getting out of the Military I have found several veterans organizations to become a part of. But none of them have helped me like Heroes on the Water has helped me. I have actually found true friends that genuinely care about eachother and welcome family members and are not just there because it's a job to them and they want recognition.

Joe_86

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have been with this organization for 4 years. I have seen many veterans that are more active with their family and society sense they have been participating with HOW-RGV. This is a great organization where a Veteran receives this service completely free. They're also able to bring their family to these events. This is why I will continue to support Heroes on the Water. Because they do make an impact on their life.

Previous Stories
2

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have been a Coordinator for Heroes on the Water - Rio Grande Valley Chapter for 3 years now. It amazes me how kayak fishing can make a big difference to somebody that has PTS or a TBI. When we have a veteran that's coming out for the first time they're excited but leery. We ask them questions like what branch they were in, are you married or do they have children, etc. You can see that they become more comfortable hanging out with their Brothers and Sisters. Paddling on a kayak is very therapeutic but catching fish is just a small bonus.
The hugs we get tell us thank you for caring without saying a word.

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Danny De L.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have been a volunteer with HOW RGV Chapter for about 3 years now. I have seen first hand how it helps out vets. My brother in law retired from the Marine Corp. and was struggling after his 3 deployments. I accompanied him on his first event and got hooked myself. Since then I have seen many vets attend events and visibly see changes at the end of the event. I am very proud to be a volunteer with a great organization.

Groundpounder

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Being Retired Military and out for 20 years I missed the bonding, structure, and camaraderie. Now as a HOW Volunteer I can get my therapy helping the younger Veterans. I've seen and have felt the results.

1

Client Served

Rating: 5

When you leave the service there can be a severe culture shock that leaves you missing the environment that you were used to back in the service. I started going to the Heroes on the Water events to reconnect with that culture. I quickly realized that the service that they provide goes much much deeper than that. I've witnessed people with severe anxiety from traumatic events that happened while they served find peace in being able to fish with others who understood what they felt. I quickly became a volunteer and a guide. The no BS no pressure approach that HOW has helps, plain and simple. I've seen more results from what they do than what from any other organization.

3 Kami O.

Client Served

Rating: 5

What Heroes on the Water does for myself and fellow Veterans can't really be explained adequately. After my first trip, I was hooked and haven't missed an event in almost 3 years. My month is planned around the HOW Coastal Bend chapter. Just sitting on a yak, surrounded by salt water and watching the worries and stress of every day life float away with the waves rejuvenates my soul in such a way that can't be explained. My HOW family is so extremely important to me and I grateful to every one of them and our amazing volunteers and supporters.

2 Kevin K.3

Client Served

Rating: 5

Heroes on the Water is a great organization for me. Growing up in Minnesota and fishing daily was my way to heal from any life struggle I had. Being able to get back out and fish with my current situation being a double amputee with TBI I needed these guys. Thank You heroes on the water and hope to get back out there!

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

For an outgoing introvert HOW-RGV is the perfect organization for me. Wether it's sitting around talking, fishing off a kayak by myself, wadding next to a friend, learning a new skill or even enjoying a meal with good company there is always something for me & whatever mood I'm in. I look forward to decompressing from life's daily stressors every month with this org. and absolutely love that it is family oriented, so even when I can't get away by myself I know I can bring my daughter along and heal with her.

3 William S.2

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Last year was my first meeting with the team from Fort Gordon, GA. I've been an avid kayak fisherman for over 15 years and was looking for a way to give back to my fellow servicemen and women. I volunteered to help guide on some local ponds they had reserved for the event. Being a new guide I was teamed up with off the "old pros" and our veteran. It was his first time in a Kayak. To say he had a great time would be an understatement. When we got him back to the launch and he had to get back in his chair, the smile never left his face. I still volunteer and tell everybody I meet of how great it is to help others. HOW has given me the ability to give back to others that gave for us.

1 Juan De La G.

Client Served

Rating: 5

I came across this organization and realized that they make life so much more worthy of living thru the therapy, relaxation and commradery that it provides. My friends and family have noticed the positive change that I have presented. I feel better about myself and life in general.
I'm hoping that I can make a positive impact on my brothers and sisters within the organization.

3 Erica Dayse B.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

The very first time that I came across HOW, I was in doubt that I wanted to do anything with female veterans. Maria had just invited me to join them for an all female veterans weekend of fishing and kayaking. As time progressed I went ahead and said,"yes". HOW that weekend helped me get over a PTSD episode by teaching me alternate ways and having other veterans that knew right away what was going on. I usually had them but never had help with anyone. Let alone have anyone know what exactly was going on. I have came back for three years now. Each time, I experience something new and that I am capable of doing things out of my nature. I am truly grateful that I was able to participate in the events that our local chapter has for everyone.

1 Robert C.2

Client Served

Rating: 5

I have been out fishing with this group twice and both times it was a memorable and highly enjoyable experience. Great people who love the sport of fishing. The Coordinators ensured that everyone had all that we needed and our safety was first and foremost. Will definitely be going again!!!

1 Joe G.1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Great opportunity for active duty military and veterans of the U.S. Armed forces and their families to get out and enjoy the outdoors and let go of some stress. I myself have been sitting around the house looking for a organization to donate my time with, saw a post in one of my fishing groups on facebook looking for volunteers Heroes on the Water BAMC. On 2/10/2018 at O' Dark thirty, pulled up to Cypress Bend Park in New Braunfels to find a huge trailer loaded with kayaks. Not only were there life vest and paddles, Heroes on the Water BAMC supplies fishing poles and baits to fish with. During the course of the day, struck up many conversations and had a very nice time. A big thanks to Paul/Dawn Martin for organizing the events. Very organized and planned out. This now has been a weekly appointment for me as a volunteer since February to help patients of Center for the Intrepid unwind and enjoy the outdoors kayaking and fishing. Talking is optional !!!!

Client Served

Rating: 5

As a Newb Kayak Fisherman, I was searching online for articles on how to troll with a kayak. In the process of reading/ scanning over articles I came across an article about BAMC Heroes on The Water and was immediately interested. I figured that one of my steps in getting back to the old me is to get out of the house and interact with others; why not with others like me with a familiar/ similar background ? I'd be moving forward with a great group of men, women, and their families who potentially are also make a big step forward. I am a 3x Veteran of the GWOT having served in OEF and OIF. With that, I brought back more than I had ever thought I would.
I took a shot and sent an email or text to Dawn & Paul; I got an immediate response that was inviting and personable. They also invited me to the next get together that would be on Upper Guadalupe near Canyon Lake Spillway as well as an open invitation to any outing they would be supporting. The day of our meet prior to moving to the launch site, I was extremely stressed out and my anxiety was very top chart as well as also quite unsure if I was ready to do this. I contemplated for the entire trip from San Antonio to New Braunfels and even to the river about turning around and heading home. I am so very glad that I knuckled through and went.
Paul and another Gentlemen that was assisting him (sorry Bro I am horrible with names) were very accommodating and made the process go really smoothly. Once we arrived at the river we all worked in a very familiar Team concept getting our kayaks and gear together and down to the river. We spent a few hours floating about and casting at any and every spot we could to almost no avail as far as the fish were concerned. But quite honestly that was of no matter because the day was perfect in weather , the company and camaraderie established were instrumental in the getting better/ moving forward process. I am very great full to have been a part of that day and feeling comfortable enough to meet up with them again. Thanks for everything the BAMC Heroes on the Water organization is doing for us all and Thanks to every Vet and family member I met that day. It is much appreciated.

Client Served

Rating: 5

Great experience. Dawn and Paul were very welcoming to us.