Dear Friends of Holyoke Rows,
This spring we are celebrating 20 years of Holyoke Rows. Our community boathouse project got started with a bunch of girl scouts carrying boats up over the levee in Springdale Park and wading into the river to learn how to row. We stored boats in the former Polar Beverage parking lot (now the Sullivan Steel Building) and caught the city's attention.
Now 20 years later, we operate out of a beautiful municipal boathouse – the Sue Ellen Panitch Boathouse at Jones Ferry – and offer much more than rowing. We have kayaks, canoes, racing kayaks, singles, doubles and four and eight – person rowing shells. We also offer adaptive programs and, new this year, we have a veteran's dragon boat team. We host regattas, kayak races and potlucks! This all happened because people believed in our mission to create river access and recreation that was accessible to everyone regardless of income or physical ability. Thank you to all those supporters, donors and volunteers.
We are sending this request in part in response to a generous $10,000 gift Holyoke Rows recently received from an alum. It was a gift much larger than anything I felt we had ever given him. I asked him why and he simply said it was time for him to give back. I am proud to be part of an organization where people want to give back. I see it every day when people volunteer for the multitude of tasks at the boathouse, at the events we host and through the mentoring of new rowers that occurs at every practice.
As we recognize those who made it possible, I also want those who have participated to recognize their roles as alumni. It hit me this year that youth who rowed in some of our very first high school teams are now solidly in adulthood with careers and kids. People before you believed in the value of providing opportunities for you. If you value your experience at Holyoke Rows, if your time with us made a difference in your life, we hope you’ll pay it forward with a donation to our Youth Rowing Program.
We’re trying to raise $15,000 so we can continue to offer opportunities to youth and adults in our community. A successful campaign would allow us to upgrade our rowing shells. Some of the boats we use every day date back to our first year as a program and are hand-me-downs from Mount Holyoke College. They are vintage 1990's and we can't get spare parts anymore. We don't need brand new, but we want boats that can be repaired and that are lighter for our aging adult population – we have three people in their 70's rowing in our evening adult program and racing!
Please accept this invitation to be part of what we do – to take pride in providing opportunities for people in your community to get out on the river and discover the outdoors and themselves. And please, if you are an alum, come down and say hello or get in a boat. We’d love to see you on the water!
To make a donation, go to the Donations page on our website or mail your donation to Holyoke Rows, 25 Jones Ferry Rd., Holyoke, MA, 01040.
Thanks for your support, and best wishes.
Stephanie Moore, Executive Director
Stephanie Colella, Board President