Holiday Greetings to All!
This has been an extraordinary year filled with unexpected challenges as well as a light at the end of the tunnel with the announcement of vaccines. On March 13th, Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing Headquarters suspended all in person activities but encouraged us to initiate Virtual Meetings and keep our participants engaged in core activities including tying flies, fish education and rod building. The Anchorage and Wasilla volunteers quickly learned virtual skills and started the first virtual meeting on April 7th using Facebook Live. Since then we have held twenty-seven meetings using Facebook Live and then transitioned to Zoom in August because it allowed better live interaction. The sessions featured fly tying, knot tying, bead making, rod building, float tubing, catching and safely releasing fish and a presentation about fishing on Christmas Island. Most of these educational sessions were recorded and posted on our Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/PHWFFAlaska/ .
In addition to the Virtual Meetings, volunteers held numerous individual Zoom sessions to assist participants in completing the rods that they started during February. Many participants entered their completed rods in a national virtual rod competition. Their rods will be highlighted on our Facebook Page and on this blog after the winners are announced. An example of one rod built by Marco Rico appears below.
Since we could not host in person tying sessions, we opted to order and send one or two fly patterns including feathers, hooks, and vises (if needed) to all interested participants using PostFly. The packages were sent once a month and tying demonstrations were available on line.
Our final virtual session included our annual Family Holiday Gathering where participants and volunteers from Anchorage and Wasilla enjoyed discussions of their summer fishing outings and participants were given gifts just like during all of our previous Holiday Gatherings. Hopefully, next year we can meet in person and enjoy a wonderful holiday feast like we did during 2019. The photo of that gathering appears at the top of this post.
Although we were not able to go on any trips this year, which disappointed everyone, we continue to serve our disabled veterans primarily through virtual programming. As soon as the VA and other organizations re-open and Headquarters receives approval from our insurance company and legal team, we will be able to resume some activities including one-on-one interactions and progressing to small group interactions with appropriate mitigation strategies. Wishing everyone good health and happy times next year!