Author: Rachel Elena Bessman
What is Giving Tuesday?
Giving Tuesday is a global generosity movement that began at the legendary 92rd Street Y in New York City, founded by its executive director Henry Timms. Since its initial campaign in 2012, Giving Tuesday has spread to over 70 countries and territories worldwide. It has rightly gained increasing attention as it continues to raise donations for charitable organizations. In 2020, Giving Tuesday brought in $2.47 billion in America alone – a 25% increase since 2021, and just over double the amount raised only 9 years ago in its first year. The utilization of social media platforms has made Giving Tuesday a successful campaign in attracting first-time donors, and has effectively become the day most associated with charitable giving.
Why is Giving Tuesday important to us?
Live Water Foundation is a 100% volunteer-based organization that relies entirely on charitable contributions. Our goal is to spend as much time as we can focused on the proper development and implementation of our programs, rather than organizing fundraisers. Giving Tuesday’s mission and reach extends to us an opportunity to elevate our story and broaden our donor base, two key contributors to providing the private funding without which our programs could not run. In 2017, 67% of the donations from Giving Tuesday were from first-time donors. We hope to tap into that incredible potential to increase our ability to continue to provide free services to military veterans and underserved youth, as well as funds for our Chesapeake Bay restoration initiatives.
Where does your donation go?
Wai Koa is an adaptive paddling program for physically and mentally disabled veterans, active military, and first responders to get them outside and engaged in on-land and on-water activities. We do this mainly in two ways: The first is a form of supplemental adaptive sports therapy, where once a week between Memorial Day and Labor Day, members of the Live Water Foundation teach a dedicated group of partially disabled veterans the basics of stand up paddle boarding. Additionally, we join members of Team Red, White, and Blue (Team RWB) and Wounded Warrior Project for outdoor adventures like paddle tours, and hands-on activities such as park clean-ups and beautification efforts.
The above activities help to promote a sense of community, purpose, and self-efficacy – all of which are proven to have immense therapeutic benefits that greatly increase a veteran’s overall quality of life. Self efficacy refers to a person’s sense of what they are capable of accomplishing, as determined by previous experiences. Soldiers are trained to be expertly skilled in their field with top precision. When they sustain an injury that leads to an inability to perform in the way they are conditioned, they experience a dramatic drop in self efficacy, which in turn leads to higher rates of anger, depression, tension, anxiety, and stress. Many studies have confirmed that participating in outdoor sports and recreation activities greatly reduces the occurrence of these negative mood states, and increases an individual’s sense of vitality, vigor, purpose, and enthusiasm.
For an individual with a recently acquired disability, having the opportunity to experience a sense of vigor is extremely important considering the physical, social, and emotional barriers they must continually navigate, and may also lead to a feeling of coherence between themselves and their current situation. Studies have also linked adaptive sports and therapeutic recreation programs to an increased ability to treat PTSD. According to researchers, recreation can be used as “a therapeutic modality which facilitates stress reduction, the development of social networks, the redevelopment of skills needed to enjoy activities, and the recreation of joyful memories, all of which are particularly challenging for the individual with PTSD.”
Anecdotally, our Wai Koa program continues to be successful, as we see many veterans requesting to join, with a significant number of returning participants. We hope to expand our program to offer more sessions to even more veterans, especially considering the number of troops we are expecting to return home in the coming months and years.
We have a vision of Annapolis being a hub for veterans and military members to make connections and socialize, but we need help getting there.
$250 will sponsor one Wounded Warrior to partake in our Wai Koa Program. DONATE
Junior Wai Koa
Annapolis is synonymous with being on the water. However, spending time on the water isn’t as easy as it should be, and for some of Annapolis’ most disadvantaged youth, it almost never happens. Our Junior Wai Koa program allows us to provide an unforgettable summer experience for children living in communities under the Housing Authority of the City of Annapolis (HACA). For six weeks of summer, members of Live Water Foundation take children out once a week and teach them the basic skills of paddle boarding in a fun, community oriented environment that intrinsically motivates personal growth, physical movement, and feelings of solidarity.
There are countless studies that solidify the connection between participation in sports activities such as paddle boarding and a long list of health benefits, from physical fitness to a decreased risk for depression, anxiety, heart disease, cancer, and diabetes. Engaging in group activities also increases a young person’s sense of relatedness, competence, and autonomy, and encourages positive, growth-oriented socialization. Researchers have also noted that young people who engage particularly in outdoor activities have a higher instance of lifelong physical activity.
Yet, many such activities are cost-prohibitive either because there are fees associated with something like a summer camp or recreational sports league, or special equipment is required, or in a lot of cases, both. For families who are already stretched thin, these sign up fees and equipment costs are a barrier of entry. Paradoxically, it is those socioeconomically stressed families that could most benefit from participating in these activities.
This year, we were able to add two sessions to our Junior Wai Koa program, allowing us to provide a summer camp experience for groups of 20 or more children for the full six week season. But, we would love to be able to offer two sessions a week, or to be able to accommodate as many kids as we could. Ideally, we could do both.
$150 will sponsor one Underserved Youth to partake in our Junior Wai Koa Program DONATE
Full Service Oyster Cage Program
The Chesapeake Bay is the largest, most productive, and most biologically diverse estuary in the continental United States. Unfortunately, the health of the bay has suffered massively as algal blooms lead to hypoxic dead zones, killing off marine life and creating hazardous environments. Oysters are natural water filters, feeding off of tiny algae in the water. They are crucial to the health of the bay, and today, a staggering 2% of their population remains.Oyster restoration is not a singular goal, but a component of a holistic approach to the management of the Chesapeake Bay watershed.
Thanks to the Marylanders Grow Oysters program, Marylanders can play a direct part in oyster restoration. Through MGO, waterfront property owners with piers and/or wharfs that are suitably situated for oyster growth can opt into having oyster cages suspended in their water, nurturing spat (oyster larvae) as they mature into adolescence and are ready to be planted into designated sanctuary reefs, where they will begin their work as powerhouse water filters.
This year, we announced our full-service MGO program, allowing Marylanders to house and grow oysters without having to do anything but let the cages hang. Our committed team of volunteers visits your dock during the winter growing season to maintain cage depth and general upkeep. In June, we come and pick up the oysters.
The full-service program is a no-hassle way to contribute to the restoration of the bay. The program starts at $150 for three cages, and we offer six cages for $300. Additional cages are $30 each.
In 2021, Marylanders raised enough spat for ORP to plant 3.5 million oysters, and the MGO program continues to grow. But we are billions of oysters away from reaching our restoration goal, and we know we can help. Our team will continue to host community cage builds to construct as many cages as we can, but they will need to be filled.
$150 will sponsor three oyster cages filled with baby oysters to be grown in our Full-Service MGO Program DONATE
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