From navigating the waters of Casco Bay safely, to taking in the sights of island life, getting outdoors is a regular part of the job here at Casco Bay Lines. The ocean is always there to greet us, day-in and day-out, and occasionally we can take that amazing part of our work for granted. But for some, getting outdoors means much more than just another day on the job. Which is why when the non-profit organization, Outdoors Again, reached out to plan an event, we were thrilled to partner together.
Outdoors Again is a non-profit based in Waterboro, ME that organizes outdoor excursions and events for paralyzed or handicapped individuals. Their dedicated volunteers help tackle all of the logistics, from reaching out to vendors and managing transportation, to ensuring the event is fully accessible for each and every guest. The organization has planned everything from camping and fishing trips to concerts and sporting events, and all Outdoors Again events are free to attend for guests and their families.
In 2012, Outdoors Again was founded by brothers Geoff and Mike Howe. The owners of robotic vehicles company, Howe & Howe Technologies, Geoff & Mike were inspired to form a philanthropy following their invention of the Ripchair, an all-terrain custom wheelchair. “When we started our company, our mantra from day one was to always design and innovate for the greater good,” explains Geoff. After the creation of the Ripchair, the brothers set on a path to continue their work progressing mobility and accessibility for all, organizing a roundtable with other paralyzed or handicapped clients to hear how else they could help. From there, Outdoors Again came to life – arranging monthly events, fostering connections, and instilling hope.
“Outdoors Again gives hope back to those that have lost it,” says Holly McHale, Executive Director for Outdoors Again. “Our mission is to show our guests that they’re still capable of loving life, they’re still capable of doing the things they used to do before their accident or injury, and they’re capable of doing new things they never even thought they could do.” Holly McHale has been the organization’s Executive Director for the past five years. Previously, she was a Job Coach and Life Coordinator for students with special needs at Massabesic High School and Wells High School, and she’s also volunteered at the Special Olympics. Her 20 years of experience working with students and athletes with special needs made her a perfect fit for Outdoors Again, and when Holly jumped on board back in 2016, she immediately set to work on getting the word out, growing the organization, and planning new adventures for guests.
Their most recent adventure? Right here aboard Casco Bay Lines! Earlier this month, our crew welcomed their crew of guests and volunteers onto the Bay Mist for a private charter cruise. After a few initial planning calls, the day arrived and we were ready to set sail. Complete with live music and plenty of food and drink, we took a trip around Casco Bay for a few fun and relaxing hours. For Holly, the day felt like a long-awaited, close-knit celebration. “The whole cruise felt like a reunion. We were able to all connect with one another, say hello to some friendly faces and get to meet a few new ones. We didn’t want the day to end!”
In fact, the charter was so well-received by guests that Holly thinks a CBL cruise will most likely become an annual event. Thanks so much for letting us host, Holly – we had a blast, and we can’t wait to welcome everyone back next year for another sail!
Learn more about Outdoors Again (or how to get involved as a volunteer) at outdoorsagain.org.