By Nathanael Stevens
Tho’ much is taken, much abides; and tho’
We are not now that strength which in old days
Moved earth and heaven, that which we are, we are;
One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.
–Alfred Lord Tennyson, Ulysses
Revitalization of the Mon Valley is a great hope. One that drives our politics, our community organizations, and even our industry. I’m new to the Valley, but I love it here. I love the history of it. I love listening to the “old folks” stories of when Charleroi used to be called Shoeleroi because of all the shoe stores. I love hearing stories about what it was like to work in the mills, about how men used to heat their lunch up over the heater and eat together. But I also love the potential of the Valley. I believe this place has a bright future.
The Mon Valley Rowing Club (MVRC) is a rowing team, but it’s much more. We are going to teach kids how to row, but that alone is too small a dream for us. Rowing is a vehicle to something much greater. Revitalization is a good word for it. For our community to come back again to a bigger and brighter future, we need economic development, we need the commitment of our politicians, we need the dedication of our schools, and we need the faithfulness of our pastors. But we need something more.
Buildings, businesses, politics, churches, schools—all of that is good or bad depending on one factor—the people in them. That’s what MVRC is about. That’s the “why” of a rowing team. Rowing is a true hybrid sport, requiring both individual responsibility and team inter-dependence for success. Each rower has to “pull their weight” while depending on every other rower in the boat to do the same. “Pulling your weight” is simply a matter of working hard and not letting up. The combination of personal and team responsibility built on a platform of hard work make rowing unique in its ability to build successful character.
As unique as rowing is, love is also required. Jesus said the greatest commandment is to love God, and the second is like it, to love people. Valley opportunities are not what they used to be, and it shows. The stress of life can blind us as parents to the needs of our kids. Through our partnership with Family Guidance Mentoring, we are pairing our rowers with mentors—whose goal is to listen to and champion the needs of their mentee. When love is put into action, lives change. That’s what MVRC is all about.
Our vision is a big one. We want to start with twenty kids, but we hope to grow to several hundred quickly. We are going to need help with that. Here are some ways that you can get involved.
You can give financially—check out our donate tab on the home page. In order to offer scholarships, we need to raise an additional $25,000.
You can volunteer—check out Family Guidance Mentoring to get involved as a mentor. As a heads up, they have an extensive five-part background check. That is one of the reasons we chose them; they do a great job protecting kids.
You can promote—talk to your pastor, community leader, school administrator, or business owner about MVRC.
We hope to see you at Rally on the River at Smitty’s Grill in Belle Vernon on August 22 at 7pm. Come and learn about our vision, get information about becoming a rower, or donate to the MVRC.