2021 Impact Report
Debra & Kevin It’s an exciting time for Freedom Waters Foundation. We have a Board of Directors that is progressive, active, and ready to take Freedom Waters Foundation nationwide, serving more children and adults with special needs and veterans.
Our mission is to enhance the lives of children, individuals with special needs, and veterans by providing therapeutic boat experiences.
This year, Freedom Waters Foundation took a big leap and did our first Weller Day Boat Outings for children with disabilities and veterans in Atlanta, hosting more than 460 individuals with 90 boats registered to assist, followed by a BBQ with live music. It was a great time for everyone involved. Next year, we hope to double our numbers on Lake Lanier while maintaining our growth all over South Florida. Adding to the above, we are going to Lake Monroe in Indiana too. Sharing Freedom and Joy on and off the Water as often as we can, growing across the U.S.A. Please join us in celebrating it all at our Kind Mariners Ball and throughout the year. With just three employees and the support of over 100 volunteers and donors, together, we are grateful we can serve so many.
15 Years of Freedom Waters Foundation 2006 – Freedom Waters Foundation was incorporated in Hollywood, Florida. John Weller and Debra “Debby” Frenkel were doing boat outings for kids with cancer in Ft. Lauderdale while she was unemployed. John called in January to suggest she start her own foundation. With no money and no knowledge, Debby said “okay” and made him the co-founder. The rest is history!
2007 – In the first year, we provided
more than 700 on the water experiences in the Lauderdale area, with Debby as the only employee. We participated in our first Naples Boat Show and held the first Holiday Regatta in Dania Beach.
2012 – We established the veterans program and began offering boating and fishing opportunities for veterans and their family members.
2015 – We hosted our first Kind Mariners Ball, our primary fundraising event.
2016 – Celebrating our 10
anniversary, Freedom Waters Foundation was featured on national news with NBC Nightly News.
2017-2019 – We served more than 7,000 children, adults with special needs, veterans, and their families, and we had nearly 634,000 volunteer hours between our captains and crew on and off the water.
2008 – Debby moved to Naples, Florida,
2020 – We navigated the rough
2011 – In the fifth year of operation,
2021 – In our 15
and therefore the home office moved there too. Our programs continued on both coasts of south Florida.
we started a project with an orphanage in the Bahamas. We flew to Cat Island in the Bahamas and delivered bicycles, food, and holiday gifts to the children there.
waters that the world challenges caused and continued to serve our participants and connect from afar by creating and gifting a custom, educational, and inspirational deck of cards.
th year, we hosted our very first Weller Day Boat Outings in Georgia on Lake Lanier. We estimate that we have impacted 35,000 individuals in the last fifteen years, and we look forward to serving many more for many years to come!
Weller Day Boat Outings Imagine a child, wheelchair-bound and on a ventilator, going boating with her entire family. She watches as dolphins play and splash about. Her grin gets bigger and bigger, and she giggles with delight. Her parents have tears in their eyes as they enjoy their child experiencing something they never thought possible. That’s the magic of being on the water. We provide free individual, small, and large group Weller Day Boat Outings to children and adults with life-threatening illnesses or disabilities and at-risk youth, many of whom would never experience being on a boat otherwise.
2021 STATS 2,248 On the Water Experiences Provided
509 Children with Special Needs and Families Served
In addition to boat outings, we partner with Collier County Parks and Recreation to teach people with disabilities to sail to the best of their ability through the Adaptive Sailing Program – and we offer fishing programs, too! “We are so grateful to you and your colleagues for creating a magical experience for our daughter, our family, and all who participated. Marylynn has limited language skills, but her joyful smile communicated all her excitement and gratitude!”
Veterans Program When veterans return to civilian life, it’s often with a heavy weight on their shoulders. Many have Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder or struggle otherwise with the transition, even years later. When veterans join us on the water, it’s a safe, joyful time of pure relaxation and friendly camaraderie. The weight disappears for a while, and they come back to shore smiling, socializing, and asking when they can go again. We provide free boating and fishing opportunities for veterans and their family members year-round. These include individual and small boat trips and our popular Veterans Meet-and-Greets the week before Memorial Day and Veterans Day aboard larger commercial vessels. “Thank you so much for all your organization did on behalf of my comrades and their families. It was a much-needed break for all to enjoy and recharge our souls. It’s wonderful to know that others care enough to put forth efforts and action to show their gratitude for those that served.”
2021 STATS 240 Adults with
Special Needs and Families Served
There are many ways to become involved with Freedom Waters Foundation, and each one ensures we can give more participants a memorable experience on the water.
• Boat owners, share your love of being on the water and your vessel with us. All boat sizes are appreciated, and you can participate as often as you’d like. • Give a helping hand on an outing and interact with our participants.
Boat Owners “Seeing a mom and daughter enjoy a beautiful day on the water away from the concerns of daily life makes you wonder who is getting more out of the day - the kids or the captains!” - Cliff, Boat Owner
2021 STATS 124
• Help maintain the boats, teach others to sail, serve meals, or manage registration with our Adaptive Sailing program. • Teach participants how to bait hooks and catch and release fish with our fishing programs. • Come down to our office and assist with mailings, data entry, and more. • Capture beautiful memories for our participants with your photography and/or videography talents. • Join the event committee to help plan our largest fundraiser of the year, Kind Mariners Ball.
Donate or Sponsor
• Make a contribution, donate in memory of a loved one, or plan a legacy gift. • Host a Facebook birthday fundraiser benefiting our organization. • Make us your charity when you shop with Amazon Smile or purchase an item from our Amazon Wish List. • Become a Treasured Friend and pledge a monthly donation. • Sponsor one of our programs or our Kind Mariners Ball.
We are so grateful to partner with more than 50 social service agencies, hospitals, veteran’s organizations, and related partners that refer their clients to us.
Social Services Agency Partners (South Florida):
The Learning Center EasterSeals Lighthouse of Collier The Shelter for Abused Women & Children STARability Foundation Unity Youth Services Expanding Possibilities JDRF Cancer Alliance of Naples Collier County Public Schools Masterpiece School for Autism MS Gals Candlelighters Best Buddies Florida Gulf Coast University NAMI Youth Haven Vet Center of Collier County Veterans Council Hodges University’s Veterans Program FGCU’s Veterans Program Naples Therapeutic Riding Center Collier County Parks and Recreation Sunshine Kids Golisano Children’s Hospital Gulf Coast Veterans and Friends Home Base Golden Paws Marine Corps League of Naples Faith Lutheran Church
Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital Salah Foundation Children’s Hospital Vet Centers of Broward County VFW Post Gilda’s Club St. Mary’s Hospital Quantum House
Social Services (Atlanta): Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta Vet Center of Atlanta CAST for Kids Wounded Warriors Project American Legion Veterans Empowerment Organization Veterans of Foreign Wars Atlanta Veterans Association Department of Veterans Services Vet Center Atlanta Rally Foundation Cure Childhood Cancer Northside Hospital Aflac Cancer and Blood Disorders Center Ronald McDonald House of Atlanta Lekotek Blaze Sports Great Prospects Inc
“I get pleasure from seeing the smiles on the faces of the kids when they are on the boat and dancing and seeing the smiles on the veterans too. As a six-time cancer survivor myself, I know what it means to just go on the water and relax and enjoy people just having a good time. And that’s why we do what we do!” - John Weller, Freedom Waters Foundation’s Co-Founder
Sharing Freedom and Joy on and off the Water! Main Office: 895 10th Street South, Suite 302-F, Naples, Florida 34102 www.FreedomWatersFoundation.org | 239-263-2377