I often stand back in awe, when only eight years ago Wave Academy was just a vision. As Founder, and without any non-profit background experience, my passion was telling stories of the vision and the results that Wave Academy is now experiencing as veterans enter the program seeking help for post-traumatic stress. I realized when I could share my authentic passion and stories, people would say, “How can I help you?” Over the years, many of you became friends, donors and major benefactors of Wave Academy.
Fast forward to this past Thanksgiving when I had an opportunity to bring two veterans to Rancho La Puerta Fitness Spa, in Baja Mexico. On Thanksgiving Day I asked my guest, Spike Bywater, if she would be willing to give me a one-hour session. Spike is an Army veteran and former client who received a full scholarship to become a credentialed aquatic practitioner; she has now served over 75 veteran clients. Of course, Spike said yes.
During my warm water session, I had a “spiritual epiphany." In my state of bliss, I was watching the holiday classic movie, “It’s A Wonderful Life.” George Bailey (James Stewart) wishes he had never been born. Clarence the angel (Henry Travers) is sent to earth to make George's wish come true. And then George starts to experience and see how many lives he had changed and impacted, as well as how they would be completely different had he never been there.
When the session ended, the metaphor was profound for me. Before I opened my eyes, I became George Bailey, and contemplated: If I had not shared my vision eight years ago, Spike would have never given me a session on Thanksgiving day, and she wouldn’t have received a scholarship to become a veteran practitioner, and the veterans served by Wave Academy -- and their spouses, children, parents, grandparents – wouldn’t have had been altered for the better. You can see where I’m going now. Lives are forever altered by a choice I made to be of service.
As I transitioned out of the Executive Director role last year, and with the Board of Directors help, we found our new Executive Director, Elizabeth Berg, to further grow the mission. I’m thrilled to report to you some of the many accomplishments under her new leadership. In 2017, Wave Academy started a new 5K run/hike to engage the general public; developed new partnerships that broaden opportunities for funding and program service; and streamlined web-based information, including a contemporary website. Best practices continue to be the foundation of quality service and, in 2017, San Diego’s mental health professionals are referring an increasing number of clients to Wave Academy.
We know that San Diego has a higher percentage of veterans that are diagnosed with post-traumatic stress than anywhere else in the nation. The need is urgent to support veterans who are living with the traumas of war. Aquatic therapy is making a difference so that they can integrate more fully into the community. I have great enthusiasm for the momentum that Wave Academy is taking to work with new partners and reach new groups of veterans – but it takes the support of each of you.
I encourage all of our Wave Academy family of donors and friends to reflect on your own “It’s a Wonderful Life” moment over the holidays. And remember, your gift of giving is altering lives and families forever. A better life, family, and community will ripple throughout present and future in ways you will never know. I call that grace. And in the giving, the receiving is ten-fold.
Never forget how important you are, and the young lives you have altered through giving.
It’s a pleasure to reconnect with you. I wish you and yours a wonderful holiday!
In November, a generous donor made it possible for all donations to be matched up to $50,000. In the spirit of the holidays, this amazing gift has been extended until the end of the year. All donations made between now and December 31st will be matched up to $50K! Donate today to make a difference in the life of a veteran.
Donations make the work we do for military personnel, veterans, and their caregivers possible. With your help we are reducing symptoms of post-traumatic stress and proving a better quality of life. Hear personal success stories from our program participants at www.waveacademy.org.
Announcing Our New Website
Be sure to head on over to www.waveacademy.org to see our beautifully redesigned website. We would like to acknowledge the team at Tiny Frog Technologies for helping us design and craft our new site. We have been working with the Tiny Frog team this fall to get the new site ready and it's finally here! Let us know what you think and be sure to share the page with all the veterans in your life.