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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.

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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.

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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.

Boo.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Aloha From Maui!
HOW has given myself the opportunity to not only get on the water, but do it with other Veterans. I now have others who enjoy the time kayak fishing and decompressing, and knowing what I struggle with, never judging. The comraderie is what it's about, and that trophy fish, that's a bonus!

Volunteer

Rating: 5

This organization saved my life. It’s given me a purpose and allows me to help others. It calms my anxiety and PTSD symptoms and when I see it doing the same for others, I know I’m in the right place and that this organization performs miracles!

1 Verylon D.

Client Served

Rating: 5

This organization specifically the Coastal Bend Chapter was the only group that responded back to me. For 15 months I had tried to make contact with groups to help with my recovery. I had never been around a kayak but the individualized care taken with me made sure I enjoyed myself. So peaceful and relaxing
Joseph the coordinator made sure to personally reach out to me to get me signed up for the next event. The commadare was exceptional and relieved a lot of stress . Could not ask for a better group dedicated to veterans
Also made contact with the Rio Grande Chapter when I was in Brownsville and meet with Rudy the Coordinator. He stopped what he was doing and came to a location and we visited for a couple hours. Being able to talk was a blessing. Both chapters are great at insuring veterans feel appreciated and always a warm welcome. Thanks HOW

Matt P.1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Ever since getting out of the military, I’ve felt lost. Reuniting with other veterans and participating in the peaceful yet exciting sport of fishing has helped me a lot. I tell every veteran about this great organization.

Client Served

Rating: 5

A good friend told me about Heroes on the Water and I love to kayak, so I decided tag along on a trip down the Guadalupe River in New Braunfels Texas. Glad I did, it was an amazing experience with other veterans. We shared past experiences and had a relaxed day on the river. This organization provides an outstanding opportunity to truly bond and forget the daily stressors that trigger anxiety. Thank you for the fish therapy. Wils

Client Served

Rating: 5

I have been involved with Heroes on the Water since May 2017 and I have seen the tremendous volunteer work done to bring veterans, first responders and their families together to enjoy kayak fishing in a relaxed mood filled with camaraderie and fun.

matty5145

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Heroes On the Water has helped give me the purpose, direction and motivation to get out into my community and give back.

I am a Combat Veteran (Iraq 04-05) that needed somewhere and something to put my energy in to... Heroes On the Water gave me a positive platform to do that- and has supported me along the way.... from 2012 through till now!

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Volunteer

Rating: 5

Heroes On the Water has helped so many people and has changed so many lives.... just here in the San Antonio/New Braunfels/Coastal Bend area. Paddle, Fish, Heal- I guarantee it works.

Seafarer

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I work offshore and am gone over half of each year. Several years ago, I discovered that kayak fishing was a great way to decompress after a 5 or 6 week trip offshore. When I first discovered HOW and the Northeast Oklahoma Chapter of HOW, saw some of the videos and testimonials on their site, I thought "I need to be a part of this!" I went to my first event as a volunteer which was the second event (I believe) of the local chapter and have been a volunteer ever since. I don't get to make as many events as I would like as my offshore schedule makes me miss over half of the events, but every one I go to has been a fantastic "win-win" with time outdoors, on the water with my kayak, fishing (whether they are biting or not!) and the camaraderie of the volunteers and veterans! It is something that just can't be beat!

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1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I first heard of Heroes On the Water through a kayak fishing forum on facebook as the chapter in Northeastern Oklahoma was getting started. I checked out the HOW website and came across the video of the woman thanking HeroesOnTheWater for giving her husband back who had been the victim of an IED and thought "I have to be a part of this!" I have been a volunteer with our local chapter ever since. To see the joy in faces of the veterans and their families at the outings is truly inspiring! I work offshore and spend half of my time at sea, so I miss many outings, but try to make all of them I can when I am home. I know that I took up kayak fishing several years ago as a way to decompress after a week trip at sea and thought that if I get so much benefit from my time with my "small boat on small water" after the stresses of the time on the "big boat on the big water" then maybe it will help as much for the veteran who was wounded serving our country. I have met several vets over the 3+ years that I have been involved with the local chapter and feel that I am giving back at least a little to those who have already giving so much for us! Many of the volunteers are vets as well and I have witnessed several people who suffer from PTSD who come out of a shell and brighten up at least for the time we are on the water, so for me HOW is a "win-win"

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Fred35

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

Heroes on the water Rio Grande Valley is an invaluable resource to escape too for veterans of all branches to decompress and unwind a little with other fellow veterans.... To see and be part of this organization is both a blessing and an honor.

To find out how you can join/help your local chapter near you, visit http://heroesonthewater.org/

Paddle, Fish, Heal ----- Fred Garcia

Previous Stories
2

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Heroes on the water Rio Grande Valley is an invaluable escape for veterans of all branches to decompress and unwind a little with other veterans.... To see and be part of this organization is both a blessing and an honor. To find out how you can join/help your local chapter near you, visit http://heroesonthewater.org/ Paddle, Fish, Heal ----- Fred Garcia

1

Client Served

Rating: 5

I can't thank this organization enough for offering a chance to find peace and hope, specifically Karl and Dawn from the George Washington Chapter. My service dog, Rona, and I have participated in three events in the DC area, and the results, at least from my perspective, are immeasurable. Thank you to HOW!

1

Client Served

Rating: 5

Heroes on the Water is a wonderful nonprofit organization that helps our wounded veterans and their families. After experiencing a couple of outings it's my new charity of choice. They exceeded my expectations by delivering a truly remarkable experience.

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Board Member

Rating: 5

I recently attended my first Heroes on the Water event in San Diego, California. I was totally impressed with the professionalism of the volunteers and the inclusiveness of the families and service members in all the day's activities. This organization lives and breathes its mission. All one needs to do is attend an event and see the transformation that takes place. This organization makes me proud as a veteran.

Client Served

Rating: 5

Heroes on the Water is more than just a fun time. All the leaders of Chapters I have met are oustanding individuals. They truly care about today's Veterans and let each and everyone of use know we are not alone. I have made so many friends from attending HOW events. They give me a appreciation for life. Thanks for all you do.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I've been part of the Northeast OK HOW chapter for 5 years. These folks are now my family and I can't imagine my life without any of them. Even though kayak fishing is the focus, the day on the water isn't just about kayaking or fishing. The relaxation on the water and being out in the outdoors can't be measured. The laughter and smiles warm your heart. Sometimes there is some ribbing, but it's always in good fun. Once you attend an event, you are part of the family. HOW has made my life and my family's lives better. No question about it!

Advisor

Rating: 5

I've had the privilege of interviewing several veterans who have received services from Heroes on the Waters and their stories are very powerful! In every case, the veteran has credited the HOW experience with giving him/her inner peace. They note the benefits of camaraderie, tranquility and the ability to move more easily into their civilian lives. In every case, the veterans told me that HOW has significantly impacted their lives, included several who state that HOW saved their lives.

Here is a quote from the article Thankful for our HOW Family that supports my statements (you can find many of these on the blog of the HOW website):

“Not only has Heroes on the Water saved my life, but they have made it so I can be so much more successful, help others be successful, and provide for my family.” –Brandon Walden

It's proven that being in nature, particularly on the water, is therapeutic. For those who have given so much, it can be life changing. I'm blessed to have the opportunity to hear so many of these stories, and am proud to be part of an organization that saves so many.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I've been a volunteer with this organization for 5+ years. As a volunteer I get a share one of my passions, kayak fishing, with my brothers and sisters. Its truly a great feeling passing on one of my stress relievers to another veteran and watching the thrill of being on the water and catching fish. To see a veteran show up hesitant but leave with huge smiles and new friends is truly rewarding. When you add the fact that their families can participate as well and you see those special moments shared it adds another level of pride.