FRESH WIND FOR YOUTH
OUR COMMUNITY ON GREAT NONPROFITS
Sail2Change is an excellent organization with a unique and meaningful mission. Sail2Change provides marginalized communities with extraordinary experiences that they may not otherwise have access to. Through these experiences, kids learn collaboration, creative problem solving, personal empowerment, appreciation for nature, sustainability, and empathy; helping to set them up for success and building a foundation for their professional aspirations.
I want to commend the Sail2Change nonprofit organization for the amazing work it is doing for underprivileged youth in the Portland metro community. Sail2Change provides unique experiences that foster solid foundations for confidence, managing risk, and an appreciation for the natural world.
In 2019, this nonprofit arranged for two weeks of sailing instruction plus two weeks of outdoor survival training for approximately 15 at-risk teens. These kinds of experiences challenge these young men and women to work collaboratively, while teaching respect for others abilities, both in strengths and weaknesses.
As 2020 rolled around, Sail2Change was faced with the restrictions of the current pandemic. Even then, these dedicated Sail2Change partners managed to provide nine students with sailing lessons and an introduction to backpacking.
Looking forward to 2021, the organization has conducted a survey of students and parents. Results of the survey indicate a strong desire for the Sail2Change programs to emphasize career development for youth in the program. Hence, organization staff and volunteers are building upon its sailing instruction program to focus on education in the maritime industry. Plans for job-shadowing, internships, and working with the Job Corps in Astoria are in the works, with a goal of creating a smoother pathway for a maritime career for youth who otherwise would never have such an opportunity.
For all the reasons above, I heartily recommend Sail2Change as one of the best nonprofit organizations in the Pacific Northwest.
What our participants are saying...
"Sailing was a really great experience because everyone is nice, you learn how to set up the boat, put the boat away, what direction the wind is carrying you, who gets the “right of way,” you play games, and lots of other fun. It’s nice to be on the river and just chill. My advice if you try it out, try capsizing! It’s fun but just be careful out there, don’t want the gators to eat you! Oh wait, this is not Florida, it’s Oregon!" - SP (Student)
“…Wanted to send huge appreciation out to you for making SP's year. She loved it and I loved her being in a happy place. Thanks to Matt and fabulous staff too ❤️ - HC (Cousin/Guardian)
"In the middle of my freshman year at Cleveland High School a teacher of mine shared a classroom number with an opportunity of free pizza if we went there for lunch. So of course me and a couple of my friends went. That was Sail2Change giving us pizza, and they shared their plan of how they want to help today's youth through teaching us how to sail and become leaders. I think I joined because I suspected that there would be more free food, but after my first year the food really didn’t matter. While being with Sail2Change for 4 weeks over the next summer I would gain some of the best memories and skills of my life. In other words, pizza led me to having the best summer ever.
My first experience sailing was back in sixth grade. All I remember is being scared on a small rocky boat with no control over what was happening. When I started with Sail2Change, soon enough we would be in the driver's seat fully in control of a sailboat. That's when I was most comfortable. I felt completely safe sailing with a crew of people that I knew very well by then, even if we were just beginners.
After finishing the two weeks of training, one of the coaches invited us to join the highschool team. The fall of that year I joined the team for WSC where I could continue learning about sailing and racing boats. I ended up travelling with a huge team to northern Washington for regattas, leading to many more good experiences that I otherwise would not have had if it wasn’t for Sail2Change.
The next summer one of my Dad’s friends heard that I was learning how to race sailboats and gifted my family with a Hobie 16 sailboat. I had a lot of fun inviting my friends and family to go sailing with me. I even raced my Hobie against a Nacra on Vancouver Lake. Now I have a boat that I can teach other people to sail on to continue the cycle. So when Sail2Change asked us year one students to come back to help teach the new year two students I was super excited. From now on I will try to join Sail2Change and help them get more kids into the program and give them skills for the future as they did for me."
LEARNING A NEW SKILL
As time grew closer to departure for the trip, I grew anxious. More so, when I received an email stating that a swim competency test would occur prior to the trip. Up until summer 2019, my son was a 3rd generation, non-swimmer-in fact, he is the only one of my four children who can swim. Through Sail2Change, my son learned how to swim. My son, who is a very confident young man, had too much pride when he arrived at Columbia Park, where the test/meet and greet was held. I could feel his energy, he was anxious, worried and even a little upset, that he would have to unveil his hidden truth of not knowing how to swim. I will never forget, the Sail2Change staff, just got it. They did not pressure my son in front of his peers; instead they allowed him to save face. One of the Sail2Change swim instructors took a calm and cool approach to my son. The instructor waited until many-- if not all of the other teens left and stayed after to provide my son with a 1:1 swim lesson. Finally, my son learned how to swim in about an hour or so-- that quick! In that moment, my son’s confidence grew. It was also at that time that I realized my son would be in good hands.
It felt like an eternity that my son was gone on his trip--of course, it was not. In the short time that my son was away, he learned a lot about himself. He learned that although he had established his personal limits before the trip, it was certainly okay for him to push himself beyond them. My son learned teamwork, beyond what any sport could have taught him. When you are out in nature, you become one with the earth-- you become more grounded. My son arrived home, more grounded, confident and even seemed to have a different level of respect for me. I mentioned before that we enjoy camping as a family. Ironically, after my son came back from his trip, our family had packed for our annual family camping trip. Camping as a single mother, is a lot of work! This time around, my son pitched in and helped with just about all tasks. He started our campfire on his own, without the “cheat” resources (firestarters or other man made materials). On this trip, my son seemed to enjoy not only being around family, but he also enjoyed nature with a newfound respect and appreciation.
NO COST TO PARTICIPANTS
I remember taking a trip to my local outdoor/sporting goods store, only to find out just how expensive backpacking gear was. As a single mother, I have learned to make ends meet, so he would go on the trip and he would have the gear needed to complete the trip. However, this meant things might be a little tight that month, for our household. A few days later, families of camping participants received an email, letting us know that backpacking gear was donated and that we need not go out and purchase anything. Wow! This was such a blessing.
HOPE FOR A BETTER LIFE BLOSSOMS ALONG THE PACIFIC CREST TRAIL WITH SAIL2CHANGE
As steam rose off the crackling campfire, sixteen-year-old Jordan basked in the warmth of a hard-earned meal and a new sense of belonging and companionship. Deep in the heart of Oregon’s spectacular wilderness, away from home and all things familiar for the first time in his life, Jordan contemplated this major milestone.
A respite from broken family bonds and insecurity
This primal paradise shared with his new family of friends was light years away from his reality, though no more than fifty miles from Home, a place where Jordan ate alone, night after night. Home is a tough, Portland Oregon urban neighborhood where Jordan bounces between an emotionally abusive father and a mother working too many hours trying to make ends meet to be there for him. A home is a place that's been so neglected, his six-year-old sister fell through the deteriorated floor of the second story.
From loneliness and despair…
No one helped Jordan model positive life skills, nor offered the warmth most of us take for granted. Struggling with school and lacking in a sense of purpose, Jordan found himself weighed down with depression and even suicidal thoughts.
To camaraderie and accomplishment
Tackling more than forty miles of hiking on the world-renowned Pacific Crest Trail together, Jordan and his newfound Sail2Change “brothers and sisters” forged strong bonds. Together they learned to sail, camp, and hone their wilderness and water survival skills. Days of life-changing experiences repeatedly pushed Jordan to the edges of his comfort zone. When feelings of anxiety compelled him to fight or flee, Sail2change stepped in to guide him, to find success within himself and be part of his support team.
Depression and anger are giving way to hope, optimism, and self-confidence
Jordan is now discovering a world in which new friendships, opportunities in advanced education, potential career paths, and community connections exist for him.
Through ongoing engagement and opportunities offered by Sail2Change, Jordan and his new friends continue pushing their boundaries with fully-sponsored monthly events such as rock climbing, snowshoeing, hiking, sailing, and much more. Jordan’s growing sense of self and confidence in a bright future fosters comfort and ease in reaching out to his ‘tribe’ of mentors, staff, and peers for support.