On River Time Hosts Third Annual Fish On! Fundraiser to Expand Impact on Child Survivors of Abuse

On River Time will host its third annual Fish On live-auction and dinner at the Florentine building in downtown Birmingham on September 29 from 6-10 p.m. All proceeds go toward expanding the nonprofit’s year-round impact on children who have suffered abuse and neglect. Crimson Tide football legend and Founder of Big Oak Ranch, John Croyle, will be the keynote speaker.

“Every year, this event encourages us to reach for big-picture goals,” said Executive Director, Jeana Durst. “We receive a range of positive feedback— from some who relate quite personally to the mission and perhaps are just now hearing about us and from others who see how their generosity from the previous year has been a blessing to the campers this year.”

Fish On! fundraiser dinner

In only five years On River Time has grown from a three-day fly fishing adventure for several lucky children to a year-round source of inspiration and hope for dozens who have suffered through difficult life circumstances. ORT now hosts two five-day camp experiences with guided fly fishing, devotionals, conservation education, and even service work. The organization communicates with partner organizations year round to cultivate a sense of family and support, provides scholarships, and hosts cookouts with fishing tutorials. This year, 24 young people attended camp in two sessions, and ORT broke ground on a “Fish On” camp cabin. “Without the generous donations it received at the previous Fish On fundraisers, none of this would be possible,” said Durst.

This year’s Fish On live auction, conducted by Guin Robinson, will build on the enthusiasm of past years’ attendees for tax-deductible trip packages. Guests will have a choice of dining packages, weekend getaways closer to home or international trips to places such as Italy and Ireland. And of course there will be fly fishing packages. Dinner, served by the Florentine catering staff, will be included with ticket purchases. John Croyle, whose Big Oak Ranch has sent campers to ORT each year, will deliver a keynote speech regarding his impressions about the growth and impact of the organization.

Individual tickets for Fish On are $75, 8 person tables are $1,200. Please contact Jeana Durst at jdurst@onrivertime.org if you would like to discuss other sponsor options for yourself or your company.

About On River Time

On River Time exists to change the lives of children who have survived abuse and neglect. A registered 501 (C)(3) organization, it uses fly fishing and mentorship to provide middle and high school aged children with hope and the inspiration to dream big. While the program is grounded in an unforgettable fly fishing trip, On River Time’s mentor network supports participants throughout the year in a way that cultivates their ability to trust and instills a heightened sense of value.

Selecting participants from reputable nonprofit partners, On River Time pays all expenses for these young people and their guardians to enjoy fly fishing at The Lodge at Palisades Creek on the banks of the Snake River in Idaho. They also learn about river conservation and tour Yellowstone National Park. More importantly, they make connections with others who uniquely understand them. On River Time, founded in 2012, is based in Birmingham, Alabama and is a “For Impact” organization.

On River Time Founder Steve Davis Recognized Among “Top 50 Over 50” by Positive Maturity, Inc.

Davis’ nonprofit supports the hopes and dreams of abused children through the experience of fly fishing.

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – May 9, 2016 – What does it take to stand out as an exceptional achiever among thousands of your peers? Here is an example: On June 1, Steven Davis, Director and Senior Vice President at McGriff, Siebels and Williams, will take 24 children who have suffered abuse and neglect on the fly-fishing adventure of a lifetime in Idaho. In the meantime, the nonprofit he founded just four years ago, has broken ground on a permanent cabin home for the “Fish On” camp that serves these children.

Positive Maturity Presents 50 over 50

Positive Maturity, Inc., a nonprofit that focuses on enhancing the lives of mature adults through social services and civic engagement, is recognizing Steve Davis as one of the Top 50 Over 50 achievers in central Alabama. Positive Maturity began the Top 50 Over 50 list in 2014 as a way to recognize those who have demonstrated success in one of the following areas: “current career (including encore careers), civic engagement, personal goals such as training for a marathon later in life, becoming an artist, etc., and succeeding or beginning a new career out of a life-long passion.”

Davis has been successful in the construction insurance industry for years. With more than 30 years of risk management experience in negotiating, servicing and developing programs for large construction firms, Davis is widely regarded as an industry expert. He has given countless presentations to industry associations during his career and was named Power Broker by the construction industry. He is also the author of AGC’s Risk Management, Insurance & Bonding for the Construction Industry.

In 2012, he looked for a way to expand his efforts and make a difference toward a cause with which he deeply connects. He thought of ways to use his knowledge to do the greatest good. The cause was child abuse and the knowledge was fly fishing. As an avid fly-fisherman of 20+ years, Davis understood the peace that comes from the meditative sport and the inspiration that comes from the magnificent places where one must go to fly fish for trout. His favorite place is the Snake River Valley in southeastern Idaho.

Steven Davis

Davis paved a way for the idea to become a nonprofit. He took 3 children and their guardians fishing the first year. Since then he has transformed a trip to a camp experience with character-building activities. The nonprofit, now with a board of directors and executive director, pays for everything the children will need—tickets, gear, training, etc. They began taking a full day to see Yellowstone in 2014. Davis also wrote a novel, Picking Butter Beans, which addresses child abuse. Proceeds support On River Time.

“A simple message resounds throughout the On River Time experience: you are valuable,” said Steve Davis. “We want the children to realize that they are worthy not only of this experience, but of their wildest dreams.” Davis continued, “I tell them that helping them experience all this grandeur and skill building is my dream.”

Penny Kakoliris, Executive Director of Positive Maturity, says there is no specific template for the winners chosen from thousands of applicants; indeed, they all use their unique gifts and opportunities to better the world in their own ways. The award is meant to be an example to all that the ability to make a difference may be greatest later in life.

A Dinner to honor Top Fifty Over Fifty recipients, emceed by newscaster Mike Royer, will be held July 28 from 6 to 9pm Cahaba Grand Conference Center. Tickets are available here.

About On River Time

On River Time exists to change the lives of children who have survived abuse and neglect. A registered 501(c)(3) organization, it uses fly fishing and mentorship to provide middle and high school aged children with hope and the inspiration to dream big. While the program is grounded in an unforgettable fly fishing trip, On River Time’s mentor network supports participants throughout the year in a way that cultivates their ability to trust and instills a heightened sense of value.

Selecting participants from reputable nonprofit partners, On River Time pays all expenses for these young people and their guardians to enjoy fly fishing at The Lodge at Palisades Creek on the banks of the Snake River in Idaho. They also learn about river conservation and tour Yellowstone National Park. More importantly, they make connections with others who uniquely understand them. On River Time, founded in 2012, is based in Birmingham, Alabama and currently serves children from Big Oak Ranch in Springville, Alabama and Still Creek Ranch in Bryan, Texas. On River Time is a “For Impact” organization. www.onrivertime.org

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On River Time Delivers Christmas Gifts to Partner Ranches, Promises More Fishing Joy in June 2016

Birmingham, Ala.—December 23, 2015—On River Time’s founder, executive director, some staff and friends made Christmas visits to ORT alum from previous years this December. They made separate trips to the Big Oak Ranch in Springville, AL, and the Still Creek Ranch in Bryan, TX, bearing gifts and stoking excitement for the June trip.

ORT GROUPsm-w

“On River Time continues to move toward year-round support and reassurance, both abstract and financial,” said Executive Director Jeana Durst. “Christmas is a great time of year to remind these kids that we care and also that we are half way to another trip to the Snake River—it emphasizes that we have a growing family of alum and friends.”

ARTsm

The children recounted unique memories: characters from The Lodge, fish caught, games, flights, hilarity. One of the party activities involved On River Time trivia. Some gifts were practical necessities, while others were items crucial to developing skills and hobbies—one child received a compound bow; in other words, the gifts were individualized.

Still Creek GROUPsm-w

The children from Big Oak created Japanese-style gyotaku fish prints, unique artwork with water color backgrounds, which will be used to reward donors throughout the year.

On River Time Friends and Supporters Tell Young Survivors of Abuse and Neglect “Fish On,” Contribute More Than $130,000

Birmingham, Ala.—October 26, 2015—Friends and supporters of On River Time contributed over $130,000 (net proceeds) at the nonprofit’s second annual Fish On! fundraiser. The live auction, held September 24 at the Florentine Building, was headlined by keynote speaker John Croyle and the auctioneers from Granger, Thagard & Associates.

Founder Steve Davis opened the evening with a clear message: “Your generosity increases our impact.” He reminded you that On River Time is accountable for some ambitious promises made last year for 2015:

  1. Take a record number of kids
  2. Partner with another children’s home organization
  3. Pilot a scholarship program for attendees and high school seniors
  4. Begin offering a second ORT experience to high school seniors as peer mentors
  5. Follow through with plans for an ORT cabin at The Lodge at Palisades Creek

He also sketched some of the 2016 goals to translate a concrete vision to the audience: a record 20 children and 8 guardians making the trip next June; five $1,000 scholarships for ORT seniors; adding a third partner from a third state; and breaking ground on the ORT cabin.

John Croyle, Founder of Big Oak Ranch began his keynote speech as the first course of dinner was served. John reminded all that this is the only organization that he speaks at for fundraising other than his own—such is its impact on his children. His kids have been through horrific incidents, but Big Oak brings them comfort and normalcy. He noted that Steve Davis and ORT have exemplified Croyle’s belief that “obedience is followed by provision.” The “ripple effect” is clearly demonstrated by the growth of On River Time, he said.

After Croyle’s speech, guests enjoyed dinner provided by Coretti Catering. Then it was time to start the bidding: Cuba, Ireland, California Wine Country, fly fishing, hunting. Granger, Thagard & Associates’ auctioneers of course stoked an exciting atmosphere with their animated, good-natured nudges for one more bid. As the open-giving session began, the auctioneer announced that an anonymous donor would be matching the donations. Following the auction, the 7th Avenue Band played.

Wes Priest, Resident Program Director at Still Creek Ranch (Bryan, TX), ORT’s new partner organization, was able to join us this year. He spoke briefly about how important it was for his group to break their normal routine and surroundings to reflect on their lives and their faith. He said, “The On River Time experience will stay with these kids forever.”

Executive Director Jeana Durst reflected, “We get better at refining our vision every year because we listen to the children and translate their needs back to our supporters; this fundraiser is critical to giving more children the experience of a lifetime.”

On River Time Provides 15 Children from AL and TX Fly Fishing Experience of a Lifetime in Idaho

Survivors of Abuse and Neglect Find Peace on the Water

Group shot from June 2015 trip

Birmingham Ala.—July 23, 2015—From June 6-11, On River Time provided 15 children who have experienced horrible things—often betrayal from their own families—a trip they will never forget: fly fishing at the Snake River (Idaho). This year, its fourth annual journey, ORT nearly doubled the highest number of children taken and introduced important new experiences.

“A simple message resounds throughout this trip: you are valuable,” says Founder Steve Davis. “We want them to understand they are feel worthy of this trip and of their wildest dreams.” Davis continues, “I let them know that this trip, having them experience all that grandeur is my dream, which came true despite challenges.”

This year’s trip to The Lodge at Palisades Creek pointed the way forward toward a more camp-like experience for the children. In previous years, a vast majority of participants have been from Alabama’s Big Oak Ranch. This year ORT partnered with Still Creek Ranch from Texas, introducing four new faces. This experience entails responsibility and maturity; those chosen have demonstrated to their guardians that they are prepared to make the most of On River Time—it is a reward.

Each year has brought changes to maximize positive impact. The children always fish with different mentor partners and different guides each day on the water (these are also their partners for daily competitions); they learn about conservation from local fish and game experts; they have breakfast and dinner together. Their time on the water and at camp is meant to reinforce the importance of trust to healthy relationships. Here were some of the new elements to the 2015 trip (you can also review the daily trip blog here):

  • Senior “peer mentors,” who had attended in previous years and were chosen to acclimate new participants and demonstrate their own leadership ability.
  • A full day of service, which included cleanup along the river dam and construction of a fire pit.
  • Nightly devotionals: reflections on motivation, self-worth, and achievement
  • A guided tour through Yellowstone National Park
  • A final “pinning” ceremony wherein each child recognized someone who had been special to them during the trip

All this was made possible by a gracious fundraising response in 2014. In September, ORT raised over $100,000 in its first event, Fish On. The funds enabled the new partnership and brought into sight an On River Time Cabin, to be built at The Lodge when funding goals are reached. Executive Director Jeana Durst hopes that the successes of this year and the progress on cabin plans will demonstrate to donors how quickly this young nonprofit can fulfill its vision.

“The kids every year have touching stories and challenges, yet they are still optimistic and hardworking—they have earned this,” says Durst. “We are driven to create a better and better experience that leaves a positive imprint on them.”

This year’s Fish On fundraiser will be held September 24 at the Florentine Building in downtown Birmingham from 6-10p.m. John Croyle, founder of Big Oak Ranch, will be the guest speaker at the cocktail dinner and live auction. Granger Thagard Auctioneers will perform the live auction.

About On River Time
On River Time exists to change the lives of children who have survived abuse and neglect. A registered 501 ©(3) organization, it uses fly fishing and mentorship to provide middle and high school aged children with hope and the inspiration to dream big. While the program is grounded in an unforgettable fly fishing trip, On River Time’s mentor network supports participants throughout the year in a way that cultivates their ability to trust and instills a heightened sense of value.

Selecting participants from reputable nonprofit partners, On River Time pays all expenses for these young people and their guardians to enjoy fly fishing at The Lodge at Palisades Creek on the banks of the Snake River in Idaho. They also learn about river conservation and tour Yellowstone National Park. More importantly, they make connections with others who uniquely understand them. On River Time, founded in 2012, is based in Birmingham, Alabama and currently serves children from Big Oak Ranch in Springville, Alabama and Still Creek Ranch in Bryan, Texas. On River Time is a “For Impact” organization.

www.onrivertime.org

Media Contact:
Greg Robinson
gregwrightrobinson@gmail.com
(229)507-8343

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On River Time Raises More Than $105,000 at First Fish On Fundraiser to Provide Life-Changing Fly Fishing Experiences

Birmingham, Ala.—October 16, 2014 — “Coach Bryant said before every ballgame—there’s gonna be four or five plays that determine the outcome of the ballgame—you don’t know if you will be the hero or the goat,” said John Croyle, Founder of Big Oak Ranch. “Every one of us has four or five plays that make us the man or woman that we are.” He continued, “For those (pointing to the pictures attached to paintings) eight kids, you ask them to name the four or five plays that changed their lives and all eight would answer the week on the Snake River with On River Time.” The keynote speaker emphasized that children who have every reason to dwell on a traumatic past need life-changing positive experiences, such as On River Time.

On River Time (ORT), a 501(c)(3), held Fish On, a silent and live auction to expand its mission: providing children of abuse and neglect with hope and dreams, trust in others, and a sense of value through the experience of fly fishing. Due to the generosity of 137 attendees, ORT was able to raise more than $105,000. This remarkable outpouring from people who stand to gain nothing tangible from their donation is affirmation of the organization’s compelling purpose. As much as this number exceeded expectations, it certainly does not exceed ORT’s vision. Next year, even more children will go on an expanded journey.

 

The Scene

B&A Warehouse was the venue for Fish On. The ambience was perfect for an organization that uses an outdoors and cabin experience to change lives. Just inside the front doors the walls were lined with silent auction items. Guests were invited to leisurely view the items while sipping drinks and socializing. In keeping with the theme of outdoor sport and getting away, many of the silent auction items were offered by fly-fishing companies, golf equipment companies and resorts. There were also several wine, jewelry and art items.

The entry to the dining room was flanked by artwork made by children who have enjoyed the On River Time experience. The children created Japanese-style fish prints with unique, watercolor backgrounds. Inside, the tables were decorated with river rocks, moss and fly fishing “bugs.” There were also canoes and other items to connote a fly fishing lodge.

Founder Steve Davis shared the story of ORT, and conveyed his commitment to growing the experience. He thanked the board, who are located throughout the country, and noted the great support from the construction industry. John Croyle, the keynote speaker, followed with testimony of how much ORT has impacted children from the Big Oak Ranch.

Croyle said “I don’t line up with just anybody,” and went on to describe Steve Davis’ and the ORT Board’s convictions. He said the children talk about the experience the entire year and remember every detail of the trip, but more importantly, it heightens their self-worth. He described that ORT meets his criteria of what makes a successful organization: 1. Identifying your calling; 2. Following that calling; 3. Seeing the fruit of your work. One of the children from previous years made such an impression on the Lodge at Palisades Creek staff that they have invited him to work as a summer employee in 2015; “there is your fruit,” said Croyle. He shared brief, moving anecdotes about what some of these children have gone through—their courage and resolve certainly affected the audience.

 

Live Auction

Granger, Thagard & Associates conducted an energetic live auction. Jack Granger connected immediately with the real purpose of each donation. From the Virgin Islands and Florida, to NYC and Italy, the trips had wide appeal—and of course there were some great fly-fishing packages.

Afterward, the band 7th Avenue South entertained with soulful rock and R&B music. Members Bruce Spiller, Todd Pickard, Jim Larson, Eric Crowe, and Sonja Spiller formed this band specifically to offer entertainment to nonprofit causes ORT.

 

What do the Fish On Proceeds Mean?

Since 2012 ORT has taken one trip per year to the Snake River in Idaho to offer deserving children a new skill, nature’s grandeur and fellowship with peers and mentors. ORT pays for lodging, airfare, all equipment needed, guides and food. The children stay at the 2014 Orvis Fly Fishing Lodge of the Year, The Lodge at Palisades Creek. As one can imagine, flying to a rural part of Idaho is not cheap. Expenses average $5,300 per child—this also accounts for 1 guardian for every 2 children. In June, ORT took a record number of 10 children on the trip.

Because of Fish On, ORT will reach our goal of 16 children next summer. Not only are they taking more children, but they are also expanding their reach, partnering with Still Creek Ranch in Bryan, Texas to improve the social experience for all—ORT will post more information on this new partnership soon. This year’s group will have an entire extra day to get a hands-on education about river conservation and ecology. Finally, next year ORT will invite high-school seniors who have gone on past trips to attend, serving as peer mentors.

And those are just the immediate plans: The ORT cabin, scholarships and more trips spread throughout the year are long-term goals that will be realized with your support. As John Croyle said “I can fill up the house with kids, but you gotta build the house.”