Healing Waters recognizes local couple for volunteer work

Carol Oglesby, left, assists Dawn Gwin in learning the finer points of flyfishing in the rain through a program called Project Healing Waters, a nonprofit organization “dedicated to the physical and emotional rehabilitation of disabled, active-military-service personnel and veterans through fly fishing and fly-tying education and outings.” Carol and her husband, Pat, recently received the “Volunteers of the Year” award from the organization.

Dawn Gwin, now the volunteer project leader for Project Healing Waters in Grand Junction, is flanked by Volunteers of the Year, Carol and Pat Oglesby, who were showered with gifts and honored with a standing ovation at the recent annual Project Healing Waters Volunteer Recognition Dinner.

Carol Oglesby tugs at the frozen waders worn by Shelly Walchak after a day fishing the tailwaters of the Taylor River. Walchak recounts her days’ adventures on her website, 52rivers.org.

This community is blessed with thousands of volunteers.

These generous souls assist at Partners, Grand Valley Outreach, Hope West (Hospice), KAFM Radio and every neighborhood school in the valley.

Volunteers help the Grand Mesa Nordic Council (GMNC), the Colorado Plateau Mountain Bike Trail Association (COPMOBA), Colorado National Monument Association, Trout Unlimited, Ducks Unlimited, Grand Valley Audubon, Grand Valley Bikes, Colorado Riverfront Commission, Mesa Land Trust, Western Colorado Botanical Gardens and the Colorado Canyons Association.

What’s your favorite nonprofit? Where do you volunteer? You can bet your assistance is considered saintly by someone.

There is a couple in town who exemplify the word “volunteer.” They have volunteered time, talent and treasure most recently to one of my favorite nonprofits, Project Healing Waters, and they were recognized earlier this month as the group’s volunteers of the year.

Longtime valley residents Pat and Carol Oglesby were showered with gifts and honored with a standing ovation at the annual Project Healing Waters banquet at the Elks Club on April 3. Project Healing Waters is a nonprofit organization “dedicated to the physical and emotional rehabilitation of disabled, active-military-service personnel and veterans through fly fishing and fly-tying education and outings.”

Dawn Gwin explains it a little more succinctly: “It’s working with veterans through fishing to help in the healing process.”

A disabled vet who was assisted by Carol, Pat and the program herself, Gwin is now the volunteer program leader of the local Project Healing Waters group (http://www.facebook.com/healingwaters). She said Pat and Carol epitomize the nature and spirit of the program. 

Pat was one of the three original leaders of the efforts by Grand Valley Anglers (local Trout Unlimited chapter and International Fly Fishing Federation affiliate) to associate with Project Healing Waters in 2009. The groups achieved a formal relationship in 2010.

“He has been very active from Day One in every phase of activities with our veteran participants,” she said.

Gwin added, “Pat and Carol have easygoing natures and calm approaches to situations, enabling them to work effectively with everyone, regardless of dispositions, needs, or background. They assess situations very well and always look for ways to accomplish challenges for our disabled veterans. It is a real bonus for our program to have Carol as a highly effective role model working with our female veterans.”

Pat and Carol are life members of Trout Unlimited and the International Federation of Fly Fishers and are active in both organizations.

Pat is the president of IFFF’s Eastern Rocky Mountain Council (covering Colorado, Wyoming, Arizona, and New Mexico).

Carol has a regular column “Women’s Outlook” in IFFF’s magazine, “Flyfisher.” 

Pat is an avid photographer and organizes the IFFF’s annual photo contest in “Flyfisher.”

Carol is the newsletter editor for our local Grand Valley Anglers chapter “and brings that expertise to bear in our efforts with Project Healing Waters electronic communications,” Gwin said.

With their extensive lifelong knowledge of and passion for fly tying and fly fishing, along with innumerable contacts in the professional fly-tying and fly-fishing world, “They help out both in person and behind the scenes,” Gwin said. “We highly value their knowledge, enthusiasm and ongoing efforts, not only in carrying out our various activities, but also in helping plan, organize, and implement a successful program for our veterans.”

Whether it is providing fly-casting instruction, fly-tying classes, rod building, fishing education and outings, or fundraising, they actively participate in accomplishing the Project Healing Waters mission of working with disabled veterans.

Since retiring from their work careers within the past two years, Pat and Carol devote even more time and effort to this endeavor. 

“They truly are our most staunch, stalwart, and steadfast volunteers,” Gwin said.

I have personally known Pat and Carol for decades. They’re not only staunch, stalwart and steadfast in their work with Project Healing Waters, they’ve always been strong advocates of clean water, and they’re just all-around good people.  Congrats. You two deserve it!

Help needed to restore trail

Speaking of volunteering, if you haven’t found your true calling yet, here may be your chance: Help restore a section of trail in the Devil’s Canyon area of McInnis Canyon National Conservation Area.

You can help through another great group, Volunteers of Colorado (VOC), on Saturday and Sunday, April 26-27, from 
8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. each day.

This popular front-country trail system just west of Fruita plays host to thousands of visitors every year, resulting in overuse. According to the VOC website at http://www.voc.org, “Social trails and erosion issues plague the current trail system. Volunteers will work to revegetate and close social trails as well as install drainage and erosion-control structures.”

Partners and cosponsors of this volunteer-work weekend include the local Bureau of Land Management office and Xcel Energy.

Free camping is available, although for a good night’s sleep, you may want to sleep in your own cozy bed. Meals will be provided from Saturday breakfast through Sunday lunch.

For more information or to volunteer individually, as a family or as a group, go to http://www.voc.org and click on McInnis Canyon Trail Restoration under “upcoming projects.”


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