A Safe Haven
With Steve Davis, On River Time’s founder
August 20, 2015 | View on Facebook
“I’ll always remember the child who had been left by her mother on the steps of Big Oak Ranch,” says Steve Davis. “Imagine the emotional damage of knowing you were not worth the effort.”
For Davis, every child—no matter the circumstance—is worthy of love, care, and compassion. That’s why he founded On River Time Nonprofit, a Birmingham-based organization centered on empowering children of neglect and abuse by offering them an unexpected safe haven: fly fishing.
“The inspiration came from my being on the river fly fishing for many years and the healing aspects it gave me as a survivor of abuse,” explains Davis. “I’ve always wanted to give something to kids who have endured such difficult times.”
Each year, On River Time leads a group of deserving kids on a week-long fishing trip, allowing them to interact with other children facing similar issues, connect with positive mentors, and ultimately find peace along the river.
“Knowing that someone cares enough about them, that they are worthy of a trip like this, makes an enormous difference to them,” says Davis, smiling. “One child said, ‘This was the best day of my life, and I’ve been to Disneyland!’”
“We have a pinning ceremony on the last night. It allows kids and adults to choose someone to pin them and say something meaningful about that child,” he explains. “This little girl, with tears streaming down her face, said ‘no one has ever said those things about me.’”
On River Time has offered this little girl, and many more who have faced similar trauma, a glimpse of hope. It helps heal emotional scars that aren’t visible. It shows a child in need that someone loves them.
And for Davis, that is all he could ever ask for.
Learn more about On River Time’s mission and find out how you can support its efforts to continue to provide fly fishing trips to children in need at its annual “Fish On!” fundraising event on September 24.
Find out more and get tickets here: http://bit.ly/1DKUt7V
Investing in our Children
With Brodie Croyle of Big Oak Ranch
August 27, 2015 | View on Facebook
In 1974, former The University of Alabama football player John Croyle founded Big Oak Boys’ Ranch to give abused, neglected, and abandoned boys in Alabama a safe haven to live and grow. He and his wife Tee have seen their dream grow into 3 separate facilities: Big Oak Boys’ Ranch, Big Oak Girls’ Ranch and Westbrook Christian School.
“Now, over 40 years later, my parents are still living out their dream of helping children in need,” says son Brodie Croyle, who, alongside his sister Reagan, leads Big Oak Ranch and the nearly 2,000 children who’ve called it home since its establishment.
A few years ago, Big Oak Ranch was approached by Steve Davis, founder of On River Time Nonprofit, which is dedicated to nurturing children of abuse by taking them on restorative fly fishing trips.
“Obviously, we were excited for our kids to have that opportunity,” explains Croyle. “But after getting to know the people with On River Time, we realized it is way more than a fishing trip; it provides a trip and bonding experience that our kids might never have gotten otherwise.”
Croyle witnessed just how powerful On River Time’s impact can be when on a recent fly fishing trip, one boy opened up to him about the emotional abuse he suffered from his dad.
“This boy talked about how the only fishing he’d ever done before was with his dad, who within the first few minutes of being there, told him he was the worst fisherman he’d ever seen, packed up their stuff, and left,” says Croyle.
“The people with On River Time invested in teaching our kids, and in this boy in particular,” Croyle continues. “I saw in him such an increase in confidence, and he ended up catching the largest brown trout of anyone on the trip.”
It is instances like this—of seeing a child in need flourish through positive experiences—that bolster why Croyle and Big Oak Ranch stay involved with On River Time.
Learn more about how you can support the mission of On River Time by visiting its website at www.onrivertime.org. Additionally, On River Time invites you to attend its annual fundraiser “Fish On!” on September 24, which features special guest John Croyle.
With two On River Time board members
September 3, 2015 | View on Facebook
On her first fly fishing trip as a mentor with On River Time Nonprofit, Theresa Lipiro sat down with a girl from Big Oak Ranch who opened up about the difficulties she has faced in her young life.
“While she was soft spoken, she couldn’t hide her intense drive to conquer any challenge life threw her way,” explains Lipiro. “I was amazed by the young lady in front of me sharing such terrible events while sitting with such poise and strength.”
With a goal of providing children of abuse and neglect a safe haven through fly fishing, On River Time has given hope to this young girl and many more who have suffered more than any child should. Each year, the nonprofit partners with Big Oak Ranch to take kids on a week-long fishing trip that allows them to connect with positive mentors and find support.
“Every child sent on these trips has worked hard to earn a spot,” says Lipiro, who sits on the board for On River Time. “We have the responsibility as human beings to give to those who need giving, especially our children.”
Tracy Schieffer, a fellow board member and mentor for On River Time, has also witnessed firsthand the impact a soul-renewing fly fishing excursion can have on local kids in need.
The mission of On River Time is simple, but the influence its fly fishing trips have on these kids is truly life changing.
“They are shown that there is a much greater world out there than the one that they have grown up in,” Schieffer pauses. “And more importantly, they learn that there are people who are there just to give to them and not take anything anyway.”
If you’d like to find out how you can engage with On River Time, we encourage you to visit their website at www.onrivertime.org.
There, you can also get more information about their annual “Fish On!” fundraiser on September 24, which supports On River Time’s efforts to provide more fishing trips to kids in need.
With Jeana Durst of On River Time
September 10, 2015 | View on Facebook
“For kids who have experienced so much pain, time on the water with mentors and peers provides peace and healing—and time to be a kid again,” says Jeana Durst, director of On River Time Nonprofit. “When they see how big their world can be, they dream big and hope for more.”
Over the past few weeks, we’ve shared stories about how On River Time—a local nonprofit dedicated to serving Alabama children of abuse and neglect—is making a lifelong impact through its annual fly fishing excursions.
Now, we’re excited to share how Birmingham can get connected with the cause by attending its annual “Fish On!” fundraising event, which takes place September 24 at the new Florentine building.
“Last year, we were able to almost double the number of kids going on the trip just from the funds raised at ‘Fish On’,” says Durst.
In addition to delicious food, live music by 7th Avenue South, and some incredible vacation auction packages (with trips to South Africa, Cuba, and Hawaii), this year’s event features special guest John Croyle, former University of Alabama football star and founder of Big Oak Ranch.
“John Croyle is a big man who makes a big impression,” says Durst, who explains that Croyle himself has gone on past On River Time fly fishing trips. “With his engaging storytelling style, John can paint the picture of what life has been like for many of his kids and why the On River Time experience means so much to them—all while having you laughing and crying at the same time.”
Durst encourages all who are interested in supporting On River Time to attend the event later this month, not just because it offers fun night out, but because it’s a way to become a part of something bigger.
“What happened last year is indescribable,” says Durst. “By the end of the evening, the entire room became a community united and prepared to take a step together to propel positive change. It’s hard to plan for that or to fully describe the impact of that experience.”
Tickets for “Fish On!” are available on On River Time’s website at www.onrivertime.org. There, you can learn more about the event on September 24 and donate directly to the nonprofit online.
Bonus excerpt from Jeana Durst:
“I believe that everyone has a handful of experiences in their lives, which has shaped them and carries them through challenging times. For these kids, On River Time is an extraordinary experience that provides a stark contrast to their harsh memories—and not just because of the amazing setting or the chance to do something new, just being selected for this experience is a vote of confidence and love for each child. It affirms what we believe: that each of these children is worth the most amazing experience that we can provide. It is our biggest hope that each child internalizes his or her own self worth and takes something from this experience that they need and can continue to draw on through the years. We are continually inspired by the resilience of the children who rise above unfathomable circumstances and persevere when many adults would have quit.”