Canoemobile Update: Portland, ME

 
As part of our longtime social mission to provide opportunities for adults with disabilities, we gave a grant to the National Park Foundation to get 1,000 adults with disabilities into national parks this year.  The Canoemobile, operated by the skillful team from Wilderness Inquiry, is currently touring the country to connect folks to their local national parks by getting them into canoes and paddling through the great American waterways. The Canoemobile visited Portland, Maine for the very first time and set off  in Casco Bay with a canoe-ful of Toads from the Toad&Co Freeport Store. Our general manager, Ponch Membreño (you’ll see him in the red plaid shirt), paddled with the Wilderness Inquiry team and local families and adults with visual impairments and cognitive disabilities. Originally posted on the Wilderness Inquiry blog, this is Ponch’s Canoemobile story. 

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My time with Canoemobile was amazing. The energy of the crew was infectious. I felt the dedication to the mission and happiness for the work you are doing. The crew members are such great ambassadors for Wilderness Inquiry and for the type of work. I can only imagine folks all across the country becoming inspired to challenge themselves to commit more time to being outside and helping others who face greater challenges.

I’m so happy I was able to connect Canoemobile with Momentum and Creative Trails [local agencies that provide support services to adults with intellectual disabilities]. Many were nervous but their staff and the Canoemobile staff did an amazing job building the participants’ confidence, helping them rise to the challenge of canoeing.

I was particularly struck by one participant who came in a wheelchair and was nervous at first. She brought her own seat and needed a team to lift her out of her wheelchair and into the canoe.

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I previously led wilderness trips for a living, so I know the trust the participants place in their leaders.

But this was a whole new level.

I actually teared up at the fact that she was going to have this great experience and the immense trust she placed in the Canoemobile leaders.

I can’t imagine what it must feel like to let go of all that fear, nervousness, anxiety, and excitement and have some people you met 15 minutes ago pick you up from your wheelchair on the dock and place you into a boat that is already floating in the water. And the whole time she was encouraging another participant who was more nervous than she was.

Again, I am so impressed with the entire idea of Canoemobile and equally impressed with the professionalism and energy of the crew. I really hope we cross paths again.

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All photos courtesy Gretchen Powers.

Would You Wear Renewed Apparel to Save the Planet?

 

Would You Wear Renewed Apparel to Save the Planet?

 
Of course you would. You’d do just about anything to divert 12.7 millions of tons of clothing into the landfill each year. And as an apparel company, we’re committed to making the lightest footprint possible. That’s why we’ve partnered with The Renewal Workshop.

The Renewal Workshop transforms slightly damaged, excess and returned apparel into Renewed Apparel. Garments with busted zippers and missing buttons have no place in a landfill. They’re perfectly good clothes, they just need some TLC and a good new home. That’s where you come in. As of October, you’ll be able purchase Renewed Toad&Co from The Renewal Workshop website. In the meantime, help get the ball rolling by donating to their Indiegogo campaign and get a credit toward your first purchase. Do something good. Get something great. Buy Renewable clothing: The easiest and most fashionable way to save the planet.

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Canoemobile Update: Santa Barbara

 

On a misty Tuesday morning, Team Toad made our way down to the Santa Barbara Harbor to hit the high seas with the Canoemobile! As part of our longtime social mission to provide opportunities for adults with disabilities, we gave a grant to the National Park Foundation earlier this spring to get 1,000 adults with disabilities into national parks in 2016. The Canoemobile, operated by the skillful team from Wilderness Inquiry, has been touring the country to get folks into 24ft Voyageur canoes to paddle through our national waterways. We were lucky enough to have the Canoemobile come through our hometown and take us and our friends from Alpha Resource Center out onto the water for two unforgettable days. Alpha is a local organization committed to empowering individuals, supporting families and building a community that values the contribution of all people, regardless of ability.

Morning and afternoon fleets of Voyageur canoes lit out for the open ocean over the course of two days as Toads, W.I. crew and about 50 Alpha clients mingled with harbor seals, paddled with sea lions and waved at tourists along the Pacific coast. For many Alpha clients (and even a few Toads), it was their first time in a canoe. Nerves gave way to giggles as our canoes left the dock and sea salt from wayward paddles hit our faces.

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Paddling across the ocean together, we pointed at birds and laughed at the waves, smiled as the sun peeked through the clouds, and sat mesmerized while pelicans dove head first into the water. Strangers just a few hours earlier, here we were, people from different backgrounds, upbringings and abilities, who had all come together for the exact same thing: joy.

It was an afternoon that will stick with us forever. Some Alpha clients found a new love of paddling (a few even came back for multiple paddle outs!) while others were simply proud of themselves for conquering their fears. In addition to making some quality new friends, we Toads were reminded that the work we do every day is so much more than making clothes, and that feels pretty darn good.

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Thank you SO much to the folks at Wilderness Inquiry and the Canoemobile crew who are changing lives everyday, and thanks to the folks at Alpha Resource Center who came out to paddle with us (check out their video of the event below!). If you’d like to volunteer with the Canoemobile (and trust us, you definitely want to!), check when the Canoemobile will be in your area and click on the link to get involved. Bon voyage!

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