Meet Annie. Annie began helping “unofficially” at adaptive waterskiing when she was just 9 years old. Annie is awesome. She has grown up between Windham, NH and the docks of Squam Lake, first loading and unloading equipment on the barge and keeping life jackets organized; now an integral part of EAS and a college freshmen at St. Anselm’s College, she shares her love for waterskiing and adaptive coaching by driving or jumping off jet skis along with riding on the back of our largest waterski , known as the Big Kahuna, with our sit down students, who need further stability and support. Her smile is endless and infectious; she arranges her “real” work schedule around when she is needed at EAS.
Meet Sydney. Sydney expressed interest in helping out as a kid as well when she would come around with her mom Liz (who incidentally rescued Geoff, Carver, Greta and I on our last “independent family fishing trip” when Uncle Ken’s boat battery died, a story for another day). Sydney has a quiet, unassuming manner and does not hesitate when she is needed in any capacity. For example, no one really loves to pull the Barge around from where it is docked at Riveredge Marina. And I don’t blame then– the Barge is a floating dock with a motor and doesn’t exactly turn on a dime. On more than one occasion, I’ve been helping out and Geoff has asked Syd to bring the Barge over. She smiles, “Sure, Geoff,” and I read in her eyes, “Damn, that Barge is a pain to move.” However, she drives that Barge because, well, the Barge needs to be driven.
One of my favorite poems is called “To Be of Use” by Marge Piercy.
“The people I love the bestjump into work head firstwithout dallying in the shallowsand swim off with sure strokes…”
These young people and volunteers of all ages really do just this; they “jump into work…with sure strokes” no matter the task. Meet Jack, Bryan, Emily, Julia, Jake, Grace, Ryan, and Bailey. Some are there more frequently than others, but all have been young people who have been willing to volunteer for EAS in any capacity required of them. Our students, both with cognitive or physical challenges, LOVE these young people. They consider them to be their friends, and they are, and that is what makes EAS a program worthy of financial support. Our volunteers return year to year because they love the work they do at Squam Lake, whether they are helping with waterskiing, or cycling, or fishing.
EAS is incredibly lucky to have steady, talented and committed volunteers like Don and Arlene Stoppe who share their boat, their dock, their dog, their home, their beach, their hot tub, etc with EAS students and families. EAS is also fortunate to have Michelle Nestor working as their operations manager; she works tirelessly in the summer to make sure events run smoothly, holding Geoff to task, answering caregiver questions, and maintaining order on a super busy dock. Furthermore, she is spearheading all of EAS fundraising events, which are crucial to our sustainability. EAS is based out of Riveredge Marina and grateful to Barry Gaw for his location support, along with the employees at the marina who share the same address and understanding of what Eastern Adaptive Sports has evolved into. EAS has a resident photographer in the form of Ken Watson, whose capacity for giving is only exceeded by his capacity for taking amazing action shots and candids of each event. EAS has developed a true partnership with the Squam Lakes Association, and our fishing program has thrived under the guidance of Bob Levins, Laurie Beeson, Earl Jenkins, volunteers who eagerly share their passion about fish with students and families. Clearly, I’ve not named everyone, but EAS is so much more than its 501c3 status.
Piercy’s poem continues:
“I love people who harness themselves, an ox to a heavy cart,
who pull like water buffalo, with massive patience,
who strain in the mud and the muck to move things forward,
who do what has to be done, again and again.”
When Geoff left New England Disabled Sports for a variety of reasons, he worked to develop a new non-profit, wanting to reach a wider audience of families in need of recreation and community building through sport. He and Michelle continue to “strain in the mud and the muck to move things forward” because that’s what they do. Their work is invaluable, even when they too are essentially volunteering their time. The beginning years of any non profit organization is about funding for equipment to match the varying needs of the student population. Our student population is incredibly varied; therefore our equipment quiver must reach as many individuals as possible.
Thank you EAS volunteers and families for doing whatever you can to further strengthen the foundation of our infrastructure. Saturday, September 23 is the second annual EAS Motorcycle Ride passing through three notches and finishing up at Truants’ Tavern in North Woodstock, NH. If you can’t join us there, consider making a donation to EAS at our family’s fundraising page located at: https://www.classy.org/team/135277.