If you’ve ever had the chance to come to a Warriors & Quiet Waters (WQW) program, then you know just how special they are.
If you haven’t, then I can only try to retell the magic one experiences at WQW.
Last week I had the opportunity to attend the last meal of the Fishing Experience (FX) before Warriors left Quiet Waters Ranch and headed home. Fondly referred to as the Sayonara Dinner, that last meal is a pivotal part of our programming here at WQW. It’s when we ask the volunteers, the Warriors, and any staff members in attendance to reflect on what the week meant to them. While it’s not mandatory, everyone in the room is given the chance to share.
The first time I attended an FX, more volunteers spoke than Warriors — they all had sworn they got more out of the week than the Warriors did. It was incredibly powerful to hear their stories. It’s easy to think of WQW as just an organization that brings veterans fly fishing but hearing the stories from the Sayonara dinner reminds you that we’re an organization that helps veterans thrive — we just happen to do that through fly fishing.
The six warriors had just returned from the windy plains of Big Timber, Montana after a week of the warmest ice fishing on WQW record (they saw temps of 50 degrees!) and were ready to devour the homemade Shepard’s pie that was served for dinner. As program alumni, they all knew the sharing portion of the Sayonara dinner was next.
Before any of the Warriors could share though, Thomas Neimann, one of WQW’s most dedicated volunteers stood first. While I don’t remember all the eloquent words Thomas shared, I do remember his message: this week had been all about teamwork. It didn’t matter that the weather was uncooperative or that the fish hadn’t been biting that day. What he hoped the Warriors took away was a new sense of purpose through the team building they had done that week.
Thomas must have inspired the whole room. According to Saul Martinez, WQW’s Chief Program Officer, it was the first time in WQW history that everyone at a Sayonara Dinner had spoken.
It’s moments like these that help me recenter. As the Marketing Director of WQW, I often feel removed from the work we do, because my job requires me to be behind a desk. I will never take for granted moments like these when I get to experience the life-changing effects of our programs first-hand.
Warriors First, Always,
Warriors & Quiet Waters Foundation