Glancing Back, Driving Forward - Warriors & Quiet Waters
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Glancing Back, Driving Forward

Glancing Back, Driving Forward: A Note from WQW's CEO

2021 is in the rear-view mirror and we’re already several weeks into 2022. Although time waits for no one, I wanted to pause and reflect on all that Warriors & Quiet Waters (WQW) accomplished last year and provide you with a preview of what to expect in 2022. To do this, I asked my teammates on the WQW staff to tell me the things that they were most proud of accomplishing in 2021. Here’s what they had to say:

Audrey Chorak, Program Director
“Putting on a record number of Gold Standard Fishing Experiences (FXs) in a season – including new types of programs. The Family FX was one of my favorite FXs and I’m proud of our team for crushing it.”

Stevie Croisant, Marketing Director
“Coming up with the Veterans Day Peer-to-Peer Campaign and seeing all the heartfelt messages come in from Warrior Alumni on what WQW means to them and their families.”

Casey Giles, Volunteer Lead
“Completing the Volunteer Training Videos with the help and support of the awesome program team as well as Mike and Barbara MacLeod. Completing Alumni Volunteer placements for 2022 before the end of the year.”

Jesse LeNeve, Fishing Operations Manager
“Igniting the pursuit of wild fish in new and old anglers and enabling them through guidance, gear, and confidence to get out and immerse themselves in nature by themselves and with friends and loved ones.”

Saul Martinez, Chief Program Officer
“The outcomes we’ve seen with our participants and the performance of our Program Team.”

Ryan Olson, Quiet Waters Ranch Caretaker and Facilities Manager
“I am proud that we did it. Going into 2021 I wasn't sure that we wouldn't get through the year without breaking. Brian set the bar high, and I was worried that it might be too much. Boy, was I wrong. I am proud that we as a team rallied and crushed it.”

Mike Powell, Chief Operations Officer
“Taking care of our people and the satisfaction of seeing the organization grow and prosper.”

Chip Raybon, Chief Strategy Officer
“Being part of a team that makes a difference in people's lives and being part of a team where I make a difference.”

Adam Remillard, Controller
“Training the team to produce a more precise budget. Improving our internal reporting and getting the Finance & Budget Committee to a consensus on a standard for recurring reports. No control deficiencies in our audit. Meeting deadlines during COVID.”

Emily Sather, Chief Development Officer
“Significantly exceeding our fundraising goals overall, and exceeding expectations on every major campaign we conducted in 2021. I’m extremely proud of our team, and we couldn't do it without WQW's devoted supporters.”

Liz Shull, Annual Fund Manager
“Meeting and exceeding our team’s fundraising goals and executing Warrior Taste Fest. Collaborating so well with Emily and Stevie to ensure said goals were met. I feel very lucky and honored to work with them and learn from them.”

As for me, I’m most proud of seeing how the WQW Team – our staff, our board of directors, and our volunteers – responded to the challenge of increasing our programming and fundraising requirements by more than 30%, doing it safely in the midst of the COVID pandemic, and seeing the results in the impact we had on our participants.

So what did we get done in 2021? Here’s a quick snapshot:

  • We made a significant impact in the lives of our participants. We know this because we measured it in partnership with Syracuse University’s Institute for Veterans and Military Families. With over a 90 percent response rate from our participants on both pre- and post- surveys, we found the following: Significant improvements in our participants’ sense of purpose, clarity about what a meaningful life is, a sense of belonging in community, ability to handle personal problems, having a good night’s sleep; increase in the feelings of positive emotions, overall well-being, and hopefulness. For our participants, time spent in nature became a space where participants were more likely to think clearly, and generally feel better. Participants had decreases in feelings of nervousness and stress, they were less likely to report feeling angered with things outside their control, and they reported a reduction in negative emotions after their WQW participation.
  • Delivered 25 weeks of veteran programming. That’s 32% more than we’ve ever done before in a single year, serving over 200 post-9/11 combat veterans and their loved ones.
  • Launched two new, highly-successful program models, our Family and Conservation Fishing Experiences.
  • Partnered with a major motion-picture production company on a film that highlights how fly fishing can bring peace, meaning, and purpose to veterans. Stay tuned for the release of “The Mend.”
  • Partnered with The Overwatch Project in the fight against veteran suicide. With The Overwatch Project, we conducted a joint training event with Montana State University raising community awareness on how anyone can successfully intervene when a veteran in crisis is considering suicide.
  • Despite our busiest year ever, we prepared for the future. First, we kicked off a year-long planning process to evaluate our current programming and develop significant program enhancements to ensure we’re maximizing our impact on the current needs of post-9/11 combat veterans and their loved ones. Second, we completed a Master Facilities Plan that outlines all of the facilities requirements needed to support our programmatic plans for the next 10-15 years.

We’re proud of these accomplishments and hope that you are too. 2021 is now in the rear-view mirror and WQW is laser-focused on increasing our impact on the lives of post-9/11 combat veterans and their loved ones in 2022 and beyond.

In 2022, Warriors & Quiet Waters will have a 63% increase in programming and a 54% increase in the number of veterans and military families we've served since 2019.

Here’s what you can expect from WQW in 2022:

  • 31 weeks of programming with programming every month of the year. To put this in perspective, that’s a 63% increase in programming and a 54% increase in the number of veterans and military family members served since 2019.
  • The addition of two new program models. We'll be announcing details soon. Stay tuned.
  • Continuation of our Conservation FX and Family FX program models – including the winter version of our Family FX.
  • We’ll complete our work to develop significant enhancements to our programming and fully prepare to implement those enhancements in 2023.
  • We’ll update our Strategic Plan that will outline our way forward through the year 2027.
  • A new website that showcases our growth and tells our story in an engaging way.
  • The celebration of WQW's 15 year anniversary.

We look forward to sharing this exciting journey with you – our alumni, future participants, volunteers, and donors. WQW is a growing and striving organization that won’t settle for the status quo. We exist for one reason: to guide post-9/11 combat veterans and their loved ones to thrive and live a purposeful, resilient life. We do this not only because it’s the right thing to do, but because thriving veterans contribute to thriving communities and that means a better future for all of us. Please join us!

Warriors First, Always,

Brian L. Gilman
Colonel, USMC (Ret.)
Chief Executive Officer
Warriors & Quiet Waters Foundation