Each day we are bombarded with what major media calls “the news”. It’s almost always depressing or sensational, leaving many of us to feel despondent and isolated from solutions to seemingly enormous problems, or so I believe. In light of this onslaught of bad news, I’m officially beginning a new weekly series which I like to call Monday Miracles.
In this world of doom and gloom about the environment, we need to remember that there are people who are working to change the situation, finding creative solutions to the problems we all face. I’ll start this first Monday with a program with which I have been involved over a number of years.
Based in an often-neglected section of the Bronx known as Hunt’s Point, Rocking the Boat “empowers young people challenged by severe economic, educational, and social conditions to develop the self-confidence to set ambitious goals and gain the skills necessary to achieve them. Students work together to build wooden boats, learn to row and sail, and restore local urban waterways, revitalizing their community while creating better lives for themselves.”
Kids don’t just build boats
at Rocking the Boat, boats build kids.
Adam Green never thought that he would end up running a non-profit. He just wanted to build a boat, so he got a group of students together at the public junior high school in East Harlem, New York City where he was volunteering and they built a basic plywood skiff. They launched their boat in the school’s pool because there was no where else to go. Fast forward to today, and RtB serves over 3,000 students a year through their programs. Quite incredible, right? They’re involved in environmental stewardship and conservation on the Bronx River, as well as being responsible for keeping their students off the streets and out of trouble. Honestly, though, my words pale in comparison to Daniel Martinez Patino’s:
Since then, I’ve become more outgoing. I feel like I’ve grown. I take things a bit more seriously and I look forward to accomplishing a goal. I see the beauty in nature, now more than ever, and I see the art in boatbuilding and woodworking. The best part is all the skills I’ve mastered. My favorite memory is getting into the very first kayak and canoeing down the Bronx River, awesome.
They are an incredible bunch of people who are dedicated to changing the problems in the neighborhood by teaching students to be conscious of the environment, of their neighborhood and of the impact they have on both. Their voices matter. Their actions have potency. I encourage you to check out the program (and donate to it!), as they are helping to train the leaders of tomorrow and I, for one, think they should be applauded, over and over and over again.