My first memory of River Watch was climbing into a crowded, white van. I only knew two people, and I was kind of scared. I had no idea what a “River Watcher” was or what they did. Heck, I didn’t even know where we were going! At the time, I had been battling with the onset of depression for about 2 months. I was really tired, and honestly, I had begun to give up.
I’m writing to tell you my story. River Watch is raising money for a new van, but this is about more than a van. It’s about providing a second home for kids like me. Here’s our fundraising website, where you can learn more and donate as little as $10.
When I first sat down on the worn, comfy seats of the van, I got squished in between three other people, and was almost deafened by the overlapping voices of all the students talking about their day. I began to get to know everyone, and found out that they were all a lot like me. They were all older, but they had dealt with a lot. The River Watchers cared about what I had to say, and they took me seriously.
This van, this place, was safe. It was a place that gave me hope and let me be myself. I sang songs at the top of my lungs, watched the rain, saw countless sunsets, and traveled to new places in our van. I met a group of people who became my family.
Since that day, I have become even more involved in River Watch. I now serve as the Student Representative on the Austin Youth River Watch Board of Directors. I am a part of the media team: Three other students and I learn at a higher level about water issues, and then we talk to other people about conservation needs. About a month ago, I testified at the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality about LCRA’s proposed water management plan. And I am also now a mentor to younger River Watchers. I have gone on multiple campouts, adventures, and on a week-long trip into East Texas.
That van, that home, is something that every River Watcher looks forward to. It is where we spend so much of our time, and where we make lasting friendships and learn so much. If we didn’t have that van, I don’t think river watch could be River Watch.
My River Watch crew meets every Tuesday — I can’t wait for Tuesday to roll around again!
Chloe Russell, River Watcher
P.S. You can also help River Watch a lot by facebooking and tweeting out messages about our van campaign. You’ll find buttons at left to share this message, and here’s a sample tweet that you can copy and paste (75 characters): Help the @RiverWatchers get a new van! Pitch in here: http://rkthb.co/32325