Why We Serve: Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing

The Forrest Firm is proud to be the largest law firm in North Carolina to become a Certified B corporation, or B Corp. By definition, B Corps are dedicated to using business as a force for good in the world. To that end, our firm has amplified acts of volunteerism and community outreach, as well as pro bono work for which the legal profession is known. In this series, “Why We Serve,” our attorneys spotlight organizations where they’ve had opportunities to serve both personally and professionally.

By Grey Littlewood

I’ve been fly fishing most of my life, introduced to the sport by my grandfather when I was about ten years old.

In high school, I spent a lot of my free time fishing for small mouth bass on the Rapidan River which flows through the campus of my alma mater.  Then in college, I somehow finagled myself into a semester studying abroad in New Zealand, where I mainly fished and backpacked my way around the South Island for seven months. After college, I went on to work as a guide for several seasons in Colorado.

To say that fly fishing is a passion of mine is an understatement. It’s an obsession.

I’ve just recently joined Forrest Firm, and the benefits of the firm’s B Corp culture have already become apparent to me, as I know I’m going to have the encouragement and capacity to continue my work with an amazing organization that has allowed me to combine my love of fly fishing with a hugely significant charitable cause. Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing (PHWFF) was founded in 2005 at Walter Reed Hospital. PHWFF is run by an inspiring group of folks (many of them vets themselves) who love fly fishing and wish to help wounded and disabled war veterans recover from the mental and physical wounds of their combat service by getting them involved in the sport—a sport which requires the honing of a variety of physical and mental skills, from the mechanics of a cast itself, to the concentration required to tie flies and read a hatch.

While the original Project Healing Waters group worked out of Walter Reed with Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans, the organization has grown and expanded to almost every state, where anglers enjoy both freshwater and saltwater fly fishing in rural, mountain, and coastal settings. In 2015 alone, the organization served more than 7,500 wounded service personnel and veterans nationwide, with a program that completely covers the cost of equipment and guided fishing trips. But it’s not about just supplying one trip—what I love about PHWFF is that once a veteran or service member expresses interest in the organization, we can ensure that they have ongoing, year-round support, classes, and outings.

My own involvement has been with the North Carolina program and specifically its annual Cape Lookout Albacore and Redfish Festival. Here in North Carolina, we find ourselves blessed with an abundance of fly fishing opportunities, from heralded trout streams in the western mountains to tailing redfish along the Intra-Coastal Waterway. I have worked as a fundraiser and volunteer for the organization, because I’ve seen seen first-hand the positive impact it can have on the emotional and physical well-being of our countries disabled veterans.

My volunteer service has included serving as a fishing guide and coach for several veterans and service members in North Carolina, where we have a particularly large military population. On the fundraising side, I’ve enjoyed taking part in our organization’s largest event at Atlantic Beach each October, the Cape Lookout Albacore and Redfish Festival, a three-day event that’s raised more than $50,000 to support PHWFF’s North Carolina operations in just the last few years.

If you like fly fishing even half as much as I do, and you also have a heart for our military service members and veterans, then Project Healing Waters is the organization for you. I guarantee you that you’ll find fulfillment in serving those who serve us, imparting the love of a sport that gives comfort and relief—and the thrill of a great catch.

For more information on Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing, visit their website at www.projecthealingwaters.org.