Annual Appeal 2018-2019

November 1, 2018

Dear Friends,

This is the hardest letter I’ve had to write in a long time. Hard because, like you, I care so deeply about a healthy future for children and the planet, and because it seems more challenging than ever to reach with each passing day. Luckily, I’ve found a community of people doing something real and powerful to make a difference.

My name is Renee Marceau, and I’ve been a part of the Vashon Wilderness Program (VWP) community for a long time. My son has been guided by VWP mentors for most of his young life (eight of 11 years). I served as a Board member for over four years. And, I’m still active as a committee volunteer. I’ve experienced first hand how VWP transforms the lives of hundreds of children and families each year. VWP gives me hope for the future.

That’s why I’ve stayed involved all this time, and why I ask you to join me now in supporting VWP’s vital work to reconnect people with themselves, each other, and the natural world.

My son, Rowan, like many kids you know, are growing up fast. They need grounding and skills to meet and eventually transform the challenges prevalent today: staying healthy and connected in the face of consuming technology; creating physically and emotionally safe and meaningful learning environments; fighting against increasing odds to thrive in peace under systems of oppression. These times demand that you and I stand firm in our values, and take action to leave our world a little better than we found it.

VWP has worked steadily for the past 12 years to offer a culture of belonging and connection – where bodies, minds, and hearts are rooted to one another and the Earth. Their mentors weave kindness, respect, joy, and reverence into every relationship. They honor children’s unique learning styles, and gently nudge them beyond their perceived limitations. They model being fully alive and full of integrity. Beyond their knowledge of the natural world, it is their generosity of heart that matters most. My son, and all children, need mentors like this in their lives to guide them on their path to adulthood.  

I’m grateful for VWP’s mentors and the gifts they share with our community:

  • Every week, in rain or sun, they sing, tell stories, light fires, and adventure – and bring to life lessons from the animals, plants, birds, and trees about living in healthy, sustainable, and peaceful ways;
  • Every month, they share with kids and families the joys of being with nature and each other, creating with their hands, and exploring the world through their senses — all to help them ground and connect in our modern world;
  • Every summer, they ensure kids from rural Vashon and urban Puget Sound neighborhoods have wild, muddy adventures to anchor them to nature long after the sunny days are gone; and,
  • Every season, they bring together people of all ages to honor generations past, present, and future – and celebrate their connections to one another and the land through free community events.

Nearly 4,000 people of all ages, have benefited from VWP’s deep nature connection mentoring programs and community celebrations. And not a single family has ever been turned away for financial need!

Please show your support for VWP. Please make a gift today.

Here’s what your donation will support this year and beyond:  

  • Connecting over 670 youth, families and adults with nature and each other, including doubling the number of 7-12 year olds attending Saturday monthly programs;
  • Scaling VWP’s impact through free training for teachers from the local elementary school to bring their renowned Coyote Mentoring approach to classroom students;
  • Empowering women through new workshops and retreats on survival skills, nature crafting, inner tracking, and body/Earth connections; and,
  • Ensuring the continued legacy that no one is ever turned away from a deep nature connection experience at VWP due to financial need, with specific goals to raise $26,000 by the June 2019 award cycle.

I want every child to know what Rowan and my family and countless other families have learned from VWP: that they matter, that they belong, and that nature is a welcoming place where they are as much a part of the web of life as an owl, an orca, an elderberry, or a cedar tree. I want all children to know in their bones what my son recently told me – that it’s easy to be himself in nature.

Please join me now to create a more compassionate world for all of us. Your gift today will help people of all ages feel deeply connected with all of life, and have the skills and heart to protect our collective future.

Give as generously as you can – every donation makes a difference! Please donate today.  

Warmly, and with appreciation,

Renee Marceau

on behalf of all the Elders, Board and Staff of Vashon Wilderness Program

P.S. This is a picture of Rowan with his mentor at VWP when he was very young. Please help other children know the value of caring mentors to help them feel truly connected to themselves, each other, and the natural world. Make your donation to VWP today!