With a Little Help From Our Friends

Friends are important components in our lives. They help us in times of need, whether for emotional support or for giving us a hand. Friends are sought to share our joy and join us for fun experiences. Friends of the Fox River (FOTFR) was created to help a friend in need – the Fox River. FOTFR has been working to be a good friend and helping others to join us in those efforts. FOTFR has developed a reputation for being a leader in watershed education and engaging the public to actively create a watershed of caretakers, in essence, for building friendships with the Fox River.

Our summer canoe raffle was a demonstration of an immeasurable amount of help from our friends. It began with the generous donation of the wonderful canoe package from friends Mark and Rebecca Russell. Then came the purchase of 420 ticket chances for the drawing. The opportunity to win a sweet (very slightly used) canoe package was the primary incentive, but many of those tickets were purchased to support FOTFR watershed education. What an act of friendship!

Interestingly, the winner of the canoe raffle was Jill Brady. She is part of the partnership that created DivvyBack, as a philanthropic vehicle to support non-profit groups like FOTFR. When you purchase your products through DivvyBack, FOTFR receives 50% of their profits. That too is a pretty clear act of friendship.

After a year off, FOTFR’s signature annual fundraiser No Clean Water No Good Beer(NCWNGB) was once again a wonderful event. Guests enjoyed the premiere outdoor venue provided by FOTFR friend Bandito Barney’s. Over one hundred FOTFR friends affirmed their commitment by generously taking chances on a variety of raffle and auction items. Those items were offered by other FOTFR friends from the community. The beer, wine, and coffee vendors demonstrated their friendship by offering complimentary samples. The proceeds from the event helped us reach our goal of establishing a full-time watershed educator position for our superstar Jenni Schiavone. NCWNGB was truly a gathering of friends.

September 18th was the 3rd annual It’s Our Fox River Day (IOFRD). That initiative brought over 500 citizens in as friends of our river. Twenty-two organizations and their partners along with several individuals registered a site for cleanups. Many more registered as volunteers for those cleanups. Walk-in volunteers joined our roster of FOTFR friend’s supporters. The intent of IOFRD is to unify our watershed, which is a large geographical area, and these events collectively connect the citizens of the watershed. This year’s IOFRD sites were located in the central portion of the watershed from McHenry to Yorkville. Next year we are determined to have sites from Waukesha to Ottawa and numerous places in between. The water blessing/flower ceremony in Geneva provided a visible example of how we are connected. The blessing’s message is carried by the flowers to our friends downstream. Everybody in two states may not be able to agree on our favorite sports teams, but we are all friends of the Fox River.

As seasons change so do cultural norms. In an effort to better meet the needs of all the many friends of the Fox River, we want to meet our friends where they are. We have learned that they are in many different places and not everyone can attend cleanups or make large monetary donations. We need all our friends to be with us, therefore FOTFR is working on a new system of membership.

We are transitioning away from asking for a predetermined amount as annual dues. Here is how it works:
When someone performs an act of friendship with FOTFR, we collect their email address and welcome them with a thank you email. Because the financial support from our members/friends is essential for sustaining all of our operations, which are mostly educational, we will occasionally request financial support from FOTFR friends. We will leave it up to the individual to determine what amount is appropriate for them. Again, we want to meet our friends where they are. For efficient operation, our preference is that contributions be in the form of monthly and reoccurring automatic deposits. Currently, the new membership software that we are learning is being a difficult partner. Please excuse any multiple requests as we become better acquainted with it. If anyone has experience with Wild Apricot and can assist us, you will be the FOTFR staff’s very best friend.

Thank you to our loyal and long-time friends and welcome to our new friends from the canoe raffle, NCWNGB, and IOFRD. It was the vision of FOTFR founder Pat Reese that we would gather collectively as a watershed to be a strong advocate for our important environmental, cultural, and economic resource. Together as a group of friends, FOTFR will be committed to
Keep on Fixin’ the Fox.”