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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.

Media Contact:
Greg Robinson



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.”


501(c)(3) On River Time Selects Publishing Veteran Jeana Durst to Lead Growth and Give More Children of Abuse and Neglect a Chance to Go Fly Fishing

Birmingham, April 29, 2014—The Board of Directors of On River Time, a nonprofit that takes children of abuse and neglect fly fishing, has named Jeana Durst Executive Director. The 501(c)(3) has grown quickly in the past three years, and as a current board member and yearly chaperone, Durst is motivated to expand the program’s footprint.

On River Time is an emerging nonprofit, founded by Steven Davis in 2012. Davis, a local insurance executive founded the organization whose mission is “to empower children of abuse and neglect through the experience of fly fishing among natural wonders and supportive friends.”

Davis quickly found that taking even just three children and their guardians on this all-expense paid fly fishing trip to Idaho was not something he could manage alone. Jeana Durst, a veteran journalist and then Editor at Construction Business Owner joined the five-person Board of Directors in 2012.

Durst comes to On River Time after over 10 years of experience in journalism and publishing. Prior to her career in publishing, Durst held positions as a social worker and high school educator for many years. This new role is a unique opportunity to combine her love of working with children with her knowledge of marketing and press relations. Founder Steve Davis said “her knowledge of local organizations, publishing and advertising, as well as her background in mentoring youth, will be invaluable to leading the growth of On River Time,” and added “and equally important, she really cares about these kids.”

On River time has now grown from three children and their guardians in 2012 to children and their guardians this coming June. The trip this year will also be an extra day to give the group a chance to visit Yellowstone National Park. The trip this year will total well over $30,000. So part of Durst’s role will be fundraising, but she will also be looking to partner with local and regional businesses and nonprofits to “expand the footprint” of On River Time.

“On River Time has primarily been serving children of the Big Oak Ranch because of the proximity and our strong relationship with the leadership there,” said Durst. “But we really see On River Time becoming a nonprofit program that serves other nonprofits that help abused and neglected children, not just in Alabama, but anywhere there are children that would benefit from the peaceful experience.”

Durst’s first order of business will be planning the June On River Time excursion and creating an inaugural fundraising event scheduled for September. The On River Time office, located at 1027 23rd St. S., Birmingham, Alabama, opened April 21.

Regarding this new career direction, Durst said “The best advice I ever got from Steve, was to ‘do what matters’,” She continued, “For me, this is way to expand the skill set and connections that I have built in the publishing industry and connect with something that is close to my heart.”

About On River Time

On River Time is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that empowers children of abuse and neglect through the experience of fly fishing among natural wonders and supportive friends. Selecting participants from reputable, national nonprofits, On River Time pays all expenses for these young persons and their parents or guardians to enjoy three nights and two days of fly-fishing at The Lodge at Palisades Creek on the banks of the Snake River in Swan Valley, Idaho. There, in the shadows of the Grand Tetons, participants enjoy nature’s grandeur, learn skills that will serve them a lifetime, and make connections with others who uniquely understand them. Steven Davis, author and advocate for abused children, founded On River Time in 2012 after many years of realizing the therapeutic effect of fly fishing in his own life. The organization is based in Birmingham, AL.


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