COMMITTING ONESELF

It happened again.

I was sitting at my desk when the E-mail came in.

“Hi Cindy – Wondered if you had the time or the inclination to get together for a quick lunch or maybe longer dinner to let me pick your brain a bit about writing, blogging, and such?  I’ve been playing with this a bit, but wanted to get some insight from someone out there doing it.  You pick the place and time if you’re open!  I’ll come to you.   Thanks!

Ted Danforth

TSD Environomics, Inc.

“Who is Ted Danforth?” I yelled over to my daughter Sierra who was working from home in her position as Outreach Coordinator for the non-profit, Schuylkill Headwaters Association.

“He’s one of my sponsors for Schuylkill Acts & Impacts,” a week-long educational program for high school students in the watershed that my daughter designed and is executing this June.

“He used to be in charge of the Schuylkill River Sojourn, and was a paddling outfitter.”

Pennsylvania stages guided paddling trips on our state’s rivers called Sojourns- ranging from 2 to 9 days designed to build river awareness. Trained safety personnel accompany the Sojourns and many have boats for rent through local liveries, which Ted’s company, Hidden River Outfitters was one.

I’ve written multiple magazine stories about multiple Sojourns in the past and knew his name sounded familiar. We arranged a lunch date.

I was hoping either he would look recognizable or I would be recognizable to him. At the hostess kiosk at Cracker Barrel, it all came back to me.

In our first few minutes, we realized that he was married for 22 years to a childhood friend of mine whom I went through 12 years of Catholic school with and that he also knows River House’s President, John Herman, the attorney/realtor who is orchestrating River House’s creation …too small of a world.

Ted has been doing long distance motorcycle trips and paddling trips for years and writing about it- mostly as blogs but for some publications. And because he loves it, he wanted to know if making a living from writing was feasible. When I learned that he has a very successful business as an environmental consultant specializing in wastewater treatment plants for food-processing firms, I explained to him that the meager living he could make from being a travel writer would cause him to lose his home and probably go hungry. Don’t do it. Ease back from engineering and do more writing but don’t quit cold turkey. Besides, I told him, writing should never be about making money. I told him, “The only reason to be a professional writer is because you can’t help it.” Leo Rosten.

It did not take long to move past writing and onto other things. My favorite topic…River House PA. In just a few sentences, Ted volunteered. “How can I help? Financially? My services ?”

“OK!” I replied, and let me tell you what Ted Danforth’s services are.

Ted told me that he was certified to teach and guide disabled folks in a canoe/kayak through a course called Adaptive Paddling Workshop (APW).  That there are only a few individuals qualified to do so. He took an intensive course in Minnesota sponsored by the American Canoe Association, which has been taught across the country since 1990. This course brings together certified instructors, recreational paddlers, and people with physical disabilities to promote recreational paddling opportunities for persons with disabilities.

Each guide learns to gut kayaks and then lines them with foam. I can hook you up with the folks that do this.” Ted pulls out his laptop to show me images and also a video of how a woman whose hands did not work but her arms did, had a kayak paddle Velco strapped to her arms so she could paddle.

“You and Elizabeth should take this course,” Ted told me.

“Nope. We don’t have time. We’ve got other stuff to do. But how about heading up our Paddling component at River House PA? Would you be interested in being a partner?”

“Yes.” He quickly replied.  Even though his certification has lapsed, he can remedy that.

Ted is closing in on 60 years old and he too, like Elizabeth and I, feels he needs to do something different and meaningful in life, something that will make a positive impact on the world. River House PA and helping veterans with PTSD speaks to him as it does to Elizabeth and I and so many others who have come on board in such a short amount of time.

Our President, John Herman, a hugely successful businessman with a staff who would do anything for him because on top of being bright, he is kind and fair,  taught Elizabeth and I this fact- don’t try to do everything yourself, look for people  who are already experts in their area to help out and join forces.  ”

“I would love to be a part of River House,” Ted professes. “Just getting out on a lake is joyful for these folks,” and it is such rewarding work.  “I am happy to be part of the team.”

As we said good-bye, Ted left me with this thought, “The other certified Adaptive Paddling Instructor in the east is in Philadelphia. We could get the Philadelphia Canoe Club to come on board and together with the Philadelphia VA, stage an event on the Schuylkill River to build awareness for River House PA and do a fundraiser.”

And I got into the car and once again felt amazed at how things have been working out for us, how the right people just “appear,” materialize.  When I called Elizabeth in the parking lot and told her what just had happened,  how the purpose of this meeting was about writing but through it all, we earned a new and very important partner she said, “I just got goose bumps. “

Naysayers said to us, “How are you going to pull this River House off?  Are you going to learn how to file for non-profit, fund raise, buy a house, fix it up, etc,.”

And to that we reply, “We are going to get people to help us, people who want it to happen as much as we do, people who want to help hurt veterans as much as us, and like Ted, they are coming out of the woodwork to join our team!!

And it all reminded me of this quote….”The moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves in. All sorts of things occur that would otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issue from the decision, raising in one’s favor all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamed would have come his way.

Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it. Begin it now.” …Goethe.

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