Sister Mary Isaac Koenig understands the power of extending a helping hand and a fishing pole. For several years, the St. Mary Social Ministry/Tileston Outreach, in Wilmington, has received refurbished rods and reels from a donation program at the North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher. Sister Isaac in turn gives the fishing equipment to individuals in need, both children and adults.
“Children receiving the fishing equipment learn a wonderful skill to use throughout their lifetime,” Sister Isaac said. “Fishing brings quiet to the spirit and provides them time with a mentor.”
Children aren’t the only ones to benefit. One man battling alcoholism sought Sister Isaac’s help.
“He was trying to stay occupied and stay sober,” she said.
Sister Isaac’s plan? Give him a good-as-new rod and reel from the Aquarium program.
“It will provide him with food and [fishing] provides a quiet time to do something productive,” she explained.
This is the kind of benefit Rick Wilkinson, a long-time Aquarium volunteer, hopes comes from the donated fishing gear. Wilkinson founded the program and began rebuilding donated fishing gear in 1997. He gives the rigs to area organizations like St. Mary Social Ministry and Big Buddy. These efforts have put fishing poles into the hands of more than 400 people according to Wilkinson’s estimates.
“I really like bringing old fishing gear back to life,” said Wilkinson, who started fishing when he was a child. “It makes me feel good to do this. And if a fishing rod I reworked can make someone’s life a little happier, then that’s just great.”
How to Donate
Used rod and reel donations can be made at the Aquarium Visitors Service Desk between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. any day. Even an old tackle box is welcome, especially if it has some lures and tackle inside. Please ensure that the rod and reel is in somewhat workable order and has no missing parts.