Written by John Searby, Executive Director

Nearly every week I am humbled by a friend or member of Catawba Riverkeeper that gives of their time, treasure, or talent to make our organization better. Last week, however, I encountered a heartfelt gift that so moved me that it has inspired me to work harder at our mission and I feel obligated to share it with you.

The very first gift to the Catawba Riverkeeper Foundation in 1997 was a $5 bill from a widow who lived on Lake Wylie in support of launching this organization to protect the waters that she loved to fish. This week, another kind widow made a donation of her spouse’s boat for much the same reason. I had the pleasure of meeting this generous member along with volunteer, Gerry Rumierz, when we ventured to her house to pick up the boat on Lake James earlier in the week.

When we arrived, we were greeted into a beautiful lakehouse that was obviously an artist’s home. As we chatted, we learned that this couple were both artists and had been together over 30 years, the last 10 at their home on Lake James. While both loved to create art and play golf, they pursued individual passions of gardening and fishing. When our fisherwoman succumbed to myasthenia gravis in January her boat set untouched by her spouse as the grieving process unfolded. When our email blast went out to members last week asking for boat donations reached our member’s inbox, she contacted us to see if we were interested.

What struck me so, and touched me so, however was the gratitude that our member had for us taking the boat. Sometimes we get donated boats and fix them up and sell them to help fund the ongoing work of the organization. But when I told our member that I thought we’d keep this one because it was perfect for the type of sampling we did, her eyes lit up. Before we left, she looked at me with the most sincere and caring eyes I’ve seen in a long time and said “I can’t tell you how happy it makes me that her boat is going to be used by Catawba Riverkeeper. Knowing that it will be used to do the good work that you do warms my heart.”

That, my friends and fellow Riverkeepers, is what this organization is all about. Members from all over the basin contributing in their own unique ways to keep the hard and important work of preserving and protecting the waters of the Catawba River Basin for generations to come going. I never met this passionate fisherwoman whose boat I will now use to monitor your waters, but I can tell you that her impact will be felt on your river. Don’t ever underestimate the power and importance of your individual contribution and engagement with our organization. We were started with a $5 bill from a concerned citizen and every $5 since has made a difference to Catawba Riverkeeper.

Please consider today ways that you can ensure that our work continues for another 23 years.

Thank you.