Updated: May 18
With Patience Good Things Happen
Like Our Flourishing Oak Tree
I write this Spring 2022 Fundraiser update after a full day of traveling and wandering the parks and green spaces in Atlanta, Georgia with a recent REACH graduate. He and I are here to present a workshop at the Children & Nature Network's Inside Out International Conference. It seems wildly apropos as I consider this notion that certain things happen on their own schedule. My co-presenter has had his fair share of confusion, misdirection, and self-doubt over the five years since he first joined REACH. He started with us as a rambunctious pre-teen before plummeting on occasion into adolescent angst. He was even once put on probation from our programs. But after reengaging in REACH activities, he gradually began to develop a stronger sense of self and purpose. At best, he knows he wants to be a positive role model for other refugee kids.
Nature Does Not Hurry, Yet Everything is Accomplished - Lao Tzu
Tomorrow he will lead a discussion with a group of naturalists, educators, and other leaders from a broad range of sectors to explore ways to adapt best practices developed by REACH in their own local communities. His story, which has weathered dark, cold seasons, is unhurried, yet in this moment, we can see the small buds emerging. In addition to being a steadfast REACH volunteer, he works part-time at a paddling outfitter while studying Environmental Science in college. He's not done growing. He's perfectly incomplete. Together we are learning to be still and to be patient, in accordance with nature.
Watch an Interview he and I recently did with Granite Gear's Hot Minute Co-Hosts at https://www.instagram.com/p/CdJkqHHML1T/
Like our REACH grad's journey above, this season's fundraiser is slow, but reassuring. We are excited to share that Granite Gear is co-sponsoring our Peer Mentor Leadership Corps' upcoming wilderness excursions through a generous donation of multi-day backpacks, tough sacks, and dry sacks. We are also thrilled to announce that we've received a fortuitous grant from Camp Out For Kids in support of our 2022 Summer Adventure Camp, and a grant from Welcome Fund will allow us to recruit and register more Afghan newcomers this summer.
Before springtime ends, I'd like to personally invite you to come out to meet us. We will be gathering together some of our board members, youth participants, refugee families, volunteers, and partners at our Spring 2022 Event at Caldwell Woods on Saturday, May 21st, from 11 am to 3 pm. REACH Peer Mentors will be facilitating a simulation exercise that teaches the basic principles of International Humanitarian Law during armed conflict. They've created a clever outdoor obstacle course to guide you through the learning experience, which is co-sponsored by the American Red Cross. If you can't make it out, go to www.reachinchicago.org/SpringEvent2022 to find out other ways to support our summer adventures!