GOLD STAR TEENS
- Newport Daily News Article – “Healing Waters”
- GST Supporters: 100% of your donation goes to support this Sailing / Healing Adventure for these deserving teens whose parents gave their lives in defense of our freedoms. $1,750 fully funds one youth for the entire week! Your charitable donation is fully tax deductible and you will receive a donation receipt for your tax return. Donate now by visiting our donation page or, if you prefer, you can send us a check, payable to “S.A.L.T.Y.” with “Gold Star Teens” in the memo line. S.A.L.T.Y. – G.S.T., Ship History Center, 2500 Post Road, Warwick, RI 02886 For questions about this Healing / Sailing Adventure Fund Raising, please contact Jim Wheeler at (401) 654-1940.
GOLD STAR SAILING & LEADERSHIP TEAM
GST Sailing Adventures: In the beginning….
In 2014, COL Patrick Powers founded the Ocean State Gold Star Teen Adventure (OSGST), specifically for the surviving teens (ages 14 to 19) of military personnel who have given their lives in defense of our freedom. The vision was to create a weeklong summer camp just for Gold Star Teens (GSTs) with a focus on team building, leadership, and character development through a hands-on sailing adventure. To make this vision a reality, COL Powers partnered with BG Rich Keene and Captain Gary Mace. Together they assembled an amazing team of local volunteers to create, support, and execute OSGSTA.
The following year COL Powers and his team, partnered with S.A.L.T.Y. (Seamanship And Leadership Training for Youths), a Rhode Island based non-profit organization, and the Rhode Island National Guard (RING) creating the Gold Star Teen Sailing Adventure. S.A.L.T.Y.’s sailboats opened the door for the program to move aboard sailing vessels for the entire week renaming it the Gold Star Teen Sailing Adventure (GSTSA).
It’s important to note, there is no cost to the GST’s as all funds are raised from supportive corporations, organizations and private citizens. All of the GST Leaders volunteer their time and expertise to support the success of these fun and exciting Sailing / Healing Adventures.
The Program Grows!
S.A.L.T.Y.’s sailboats opened the door for the program to move aboard sailing vessels for the entire week renaming it the Gold Star Teen Sailing Adventure (GSTSA) while retaining the exciting land based activities as well!
Rather than simply provide a scholarship to attend an existing sail program, we built a program just for Gold Star Teens. They’re introduced to the amazing world of sailing in one of the best sailing locations in the world! Yet, this program is much more than sailing. Although we live aboard yachts, and sail every day, we include land-based activities to ensure we have three epic adventures daily!
Mornings we go ashore and participate in a variety of activities. Teens are encouraged to step out of their comfort zone and enjoy new experiences. Many say that what makes GSTSA special, is that we let them be kids. They are encouraged to try new challenges to build confidence and resiliency to better prepare them for college and life. We rappel, build rope bridges, drive Navy Destroyers in the Naval War College’s bridge simulator, visit the military air base to tour C-130 “Hercules” cargo planes and UH-60 “Blackhawk” helicopters. We even mount horses and play Polo!
S.A.L.T.Y’s ships sail from East Greenwich Rhode Island to Prudence Island, Newport and throughout Narragansett Bay and beyond. S.A.L.T.Y.’s USCG Licensed Captains along with Coaster Harbor Navy Yacht Club and the Newport Yacht Club provide sailing instruction along the way.
Why the Program is so successful!
Teens show up wearing their emotional armor. However, throughout the week, they quickly build strong bonds among themselves as they share their stories. Teens understand each other and support each other in a way that is natural, compassionate, and honest. As a result, healing naturally happens. Then there is not one single dry eye on the last day of camp. Everyone arrives as strangers, and leaves as family. Thanks to technology and social media, teens leave with a peer support network.
Many teens have shared that this is their favorite week of their year. Some even claim it was the best week of their life. Victoria attended our first program in 2014. She lost her father at the age of six. She said this was a life changing experience for her. “That very first year impacted me so much. I don’t see how I could be as happy as I am without this sailing adventure. I knew I had to come back and help other GSTs.” Now in her fourth year and having successfully completed her Counselor In Training (CIT) program, she returns again this year as a junior counselor and is an inspirational role model for the teens.
Today, GST’s, from across the country, the United Kingdom and beyond, enjoy these very special adult-supervised sailing adventures. Captain David Pickering, Founder and Chairperson of S.A.L.T.Y., Jessica Bobroff, Southern New England’s Survivor Outreach Coordinator and COL Powers and his team of dedicated professional volunteers plan and execute all Sailing / Healing Adventures.
All sailing is on Rhode Island’s safe and beautiful Narragansett Bay and surrounding waters, visiting exciting anchorages and beaches. Staff members are credentialed adult volunteers with extensive sailing, leadership, military and counseling experience. All sailboats are operated by S.A.L.T.Y. and skippered by U.S.C.G. Licensed Captains.
“At the end of the Sailing Adventure, says COL Powers, the teens invariably tell me, year after year, that this was the best week of their life! Rhode Island should feel proud!
Patrick Powers serves as the Director of Gold Star Sailing. He founded the Gold Star Sail Camp in 2012 and partnered with SALTY in 2013. Colonel (Retired) Patrick Powers served over 25 years in Special Operations. COL (ret) Powers most recently served as a USSOCOM Liaison Officer in Washington, DC. He served tours in Korea, Bosnia, Germany, Iraq, and Afghanistan. He was introduced to sailing as a child and was hooked. He began racing in 2001. In 2012 he designed Gold Star Sailing to be a special program uniquely designed for Gold Star teenagers with a focus on leadership, teamwork, and adventure. He discovered that great healing happened through this Gold Star Sailing adventure. Patrick is a career “Green Beret,” Master SCUBA Diver, close quarters combat expert, and the recipient of four Bronze Star Medals. Additionally, he is the father of two sailing children.
Dave, serves as CEO of S.A.L.T.Y. (Seamanship And Leadership Training for Youths), a 501(c)(3) non-profit charitable organization and since 2014, as a co-sponsor, helped grow the land based adventure to Gold Star Teen Sailing adventure to include living onboard ships and sailing on the sea providing an amazing healing and fun environment for GST’s as they learn about the sea and discover themselves. Dave brings 35 plus years of business development experience as he built Preventure, Inc. one of the leading wellness companies in the U.S. His 40 plus years working as leader in youth organizations including YMCA, Boy Scouts of America and Sea Scouts inspired him to form SALTY. He’s a licensed USCG Captain, former Commodore of West Bay Yacht Club, Committee Chairman of Sea Scout Ship 1909, Sea Scout Commodore for BSA Narragansett Council and a board member of Steamship Historical Society of America. He received his Eagle Scout in 1972 and has been managing sailing charter groups for more than 20 years to destinations throughout the Caribbean, South America and the South Pacific Society Islands of French Polynesia.
Richard F. Keene, Brigadier General, USA, Retired
BG Ret. Keene was and continues to be an instrumental and key Gold Star Teen Leader. BG Ret. Keene most recently served as the Assistant to the Vice Commander, United States Special Operations Command, before retiring in January 2014. Responsible for representing the command to the Joint Staff, Service Staffs, Office of the Secretary of Defense and other governmental agencies in the National Capitol Region. BG (ret), Keene enlisted in the U.S. Navy in 1971 and was commissioned in the Army National Guard commissioned in 1985. He commanded units at every grade level and deployed several times from 2004 – 2014 for Special Operations missions in the Horn of Africa, U.S. Special Operations Command, Special Operations Command South and Colombia. He actively supports several charities including Give to the World, The Gold Star Teen Sailing Program and the North Smithfield High School Class of 1971 Scholarship Fund.
Wes Marshall has been an avid sailor for thirty years. He has over 8,000 miles of ocean and blue water racing and cruising experience. He has raced large and small boats in the eastern US for many years with a focus on one-design keelboats. Wes has youth counseling experience with after school enrichment programs, the Boy Scouts of America, coaching lacrosse, the All-American Soap Box Derby, and the Gold Star Teen Sailing Adventure. He holds numerous outdoor certifications including Wilderness First Aid. Professionally, Wes worked as a trial lawyer until 2012 when he was appointed to the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Commission.
Capt. Gary is a Master Scuba Instructor, a 100-ton Master Captain certified with the US Coast Guard, a sailor and a private pilot. Gary has been instrumental with helping our wounded troops recover from injuries starting in 2007 with the first SUDS (Soldiers Undertaking Disabled Scuba) a program for service members wounded, ill, and injured with permanent physical disability requiring adaptation. He went on to help start an organization that helped kids of fallen special operations troops named Gold Star Teen Adventures in 2008 where he served on the board (2008-2016). This program helps kids learn leadership skills, team building skills, character and in turn promoting healing. In 2012 he and Colonel Powers held the first Gold Star Sailing Camp along with Rhode Island National Guard thru Gold Star Teen Adventures. Capt. Gary remains active as a scuba instructor, a mentor, and councilor with Gold Star Teen Adventures and Gold Star Sailing Camp. Gary spent 25 years in high-tech as a software support manager and electrical engineer. He along with his wife for the past 14 years own and operate the dive shop Conch Republic Divers in the Florida Keys where they live.
Lonnie is the Operations Director for the Gold Star Teens Sailing Adventure. Colonel (Retired) Lonnie Barham served in our country’s military for 42 years. He served as a young enlisted man in the U.S. Navy aboard a nuclear submarine during the Vietnam War, as a junior officer in the National Guard during peacetime, and as a senior officer on active duty with the U.S. Army during the Persian Gulf War and the Global War on Terrorism. His significant assignments include Company and Battalion command, Division Deputy Chief of Staff, Deputy Commander – Fort Dix, NJ, and as the Army’s Chief of Emergency Services where he was responsible for oversight of all police, fire, emergency medical, and antiterrorism operations on all U.S. Army installations in the U.S. and around the world. Throughout his military career, Colonel Barham taught, mentored and led young soldiers in their late teens, not unlike the teens who participate in the Gold Star Teens Sailing Adventure. Colonel Barham is married with two children and three grandchildren.
Patty serves as a member of the senior GST leadership team as well as the onboard chef for the Gold Star Teens Sailing Adventure. She has over 29 years of service in the United States military, and is a certified chef and elementary school teacher. While serving in the Army, Patty had the opportunity to work with students in Honduras, Guatemala, and was also a Girl Scout Leader for many years. She entered the military as a Private and retired as a Colonel in 2012. Following retirement, she attended culinary school, taught fourth grade, and became a volunteer in the American Red Cross. Upon graduation from the Chapman School of Seamanship Professional Mariner Training, in June 2017, Patty is pursuing her USCG Captain’s License.
Jill Rasmussen, CPCU
Jill is a Marketing Officer for Internet and Mobile communications at Amica Mutual Insurance Company. She is valued member of the GST leadership team. She is an accomplished, results-driven insurance technology leader with demonstrated success in the design and delivery of systems for use by internal staff, and external facing web and mobile applications for customers. She has expertise in driving organizational change and technology innovation along with her track record of implementations that improve performance, decrease operational expenses and promote corporate growth. She has a proven ability to lead and motivate teams, with a focus on maximizing productivity.
Norm is a retired US Army Green beret who began his 30-year military career serving in Vietnam with the US Marines. Norm is a Wounded Warrior (twice) himself. Norm is a Past Commodore of the Newport Yacht Club in Rhode Island, a key sponsor of the Gold Star Teen Sailing Adventures, on multiple levels. He is a member of the Royal Western Yacht Club of England and the Royal Ocean Racing Club. Norm has race several times in the Bermuda One/Two. He is on the organizing committee for both the single and double handed transatlantic sailboat race (Ostar and Two Star). When Norm isn’t sailing he is a volunteer varsity football coach with a local high school here in RI. He is also a retired Civil Engineer.
James C. Wheeler
Jim is our Gold Star Teen Director of Donor Development. Jim is a retired USA Green Beret who served in Viet Nam and is a Wounded Warrior. He is a volunteer at the Veteran’s Administration Hospital in Providence, Rhode Island. He’s a past president of the Rhode Island Chapter of the Special Forces Association.
Victoria is a full-time Psychology Major at the University of West Florida who aspires to become a therapist for children. As an avid sailor and curious wanderer of the world, she is always up for an adventure where she can meet new people, push her limits, and learn more about the universe we are all a part of.
Whether it be rain or shine, she always finds herself outside writing in a beat up journal she jokingly calls her “Life Documentation Book”. After experiencing the death of her father, Victoria turned to reading and writing as a form of comfort and in many ways has realized that she has a passion for reading and no desire to ever stop the words that flow from her heart, to her mind, to her fingertips, and onto paper for other eyes to read.
Victoria participated in the first sailing camp in the beautiful state of Rhode Island three years ago and now, in the summer of 2017, she will return as a Junior Counselor. It was an incredible experience for her to be a part of this camp that allowed her to push herself out of her comfort zone, discover the beauty of the little moments, create lifelong friendships, and become a leader, a friend, and a soul sister. The experiences, challenges, and memories this sailing camp has given Victoria will stay with her indefinitely.
Morgan Lomax is from a little, small town in Nebraska. In her free time she likes to spend time with her friends, work with her dogs, and loves to travel.
She’s been a Gold Star teen for 4 years now having lost her Dad when she was just a sophomore. She started attending the GST Sailing Adventure in her junior year of high school and say’s “I’ve loved every minute. It is the most important event I look forward to every summer. Because of this Sailing Adventure, I’ve gotten to do once in a life time things and makes friends that will last a lifetime.”
When asked about her first experience at the helm of a sailing vessel she said “I was scared and nervous at first, but it was an awesome experience!” “And she drove like a pro,” said Capt. Dave Pickering, “we couldn’t keep her off the wheel!” She was outstanding as a Counselor In Training (CIT) in 2016 season, returning in 2017 as a Junior Counselor.
Richard Biddle – Gold Star Teen Counselor In Training (C.I.T)
Richard is returning for his second year in the Gold Star Teen Sailing Adventure program and looks forward to assuming a leadership position, helping other Gold Star Teens in the Sailing Adventure!