What will a few dollars buy now days?
More than you might ever guess. For an investment estimated at just over a few dollars per person, the State of Minnesota has helped Let’s Go Fishing provide boating and fishing excursions for 108,581 people in the last 12 years. The majority of those people have been senior citizens, but youth and military veterans are also among those who have benefited.
“The smiles, the laughter, the joy that it gives individuals is incredible,’’ said Joe Holm of Willmar, Let’s Go Fishing CEO and President, while testifying on Wednesday at the state capitol.
State Senator Lyle Koenen, DFL-Clara City, is chief author of a bill seeking $400,000 for Let’s Go Fishing. The Finance Committee in the Environment, Economic Development and Agriculture Division in the Senate was receptive to it. It laid the bill over for possible inclusion in an omnibus bill.
Holm had lots of help in telling the Let’s Go Fishing story to the committee.
State Senator Karin Housley, R – St. Mary’s Point, told the committee that she doesn’t fish, but went on a pontoon excursion with seniors as a volunteer. She was so moved by how the experience benefited the seniors onboard that she’s become a member of the St. Croix Valley chapter, and a regular volunteer. “Hook, line and sinker, and I still don’t fish,’’ said Housley of her passion for the organization.
Let’s Go Fishing has received state funding in earlier years, but has not seen state support for the last three years. The state funding helped it expand to include the 30 chapters that are spread across the state today. Without state funding, the chapter has lacked the resources to grow. Last year it did not add any new chapters in the state, Holm told the committee.
The organization relies on funds raised by its member chapters to support its activities. Holm pointed out that it has purchased over $1.3 million worth of equipment at no cost to the state to make possible its mission.
It’s hard to overstate how valuable this organization is to all it serves. And, it’s not just those who have enjoyed the fishing and boating excursions. Its volunteers find the experience of giving back every bit as rewarding. Over 2,300 people have volunteered to help the organization, devoting an estimated 219,982 hours of time to date.