Finding New Purpose
by Kayla Lemon

One sunny afternoon in Arizona, John Alvarez's world came to a screeching halt. While the car accident did not claim his life, it claimed his life as he knew it. As a result of the accident, Mr. Alvarez forgot how to do many of the everyday skills we all know. He struggled with remembering names and putting sentences together. After 18 months of rehab, he and his family made the move from Arizona, where the sounds and the noise became overwhelming, to the calm and quiet Great Plains of South Dakota. But these remain simply details, ones not important to the happenings in Mr. Alvarez's life today.

Soon after moving to South Dakota, a need for an outlet inspired My Fishing Pond, Inc, a non-profit organization that acts as a rehabilitation mechanism for brain injury survivors, handicapped children, and the elderly in nursing homes. Mr. Alvarez and his son spent countless hours fishing at Wolf Creek and soon the idea developed. Mr. Alvarez, his son, and countless volunteers built a pond and placed hundreds of fish into the pond. When those visiting the pond come, they can fish with all the necessary gear and it costs them nothing.

In its short history, My Fishing Pond has helped over hundreds of people since 2002. Construction on the pond began in 1998 and slowly the pond was born. Once built, the first group of children came to fish. Mr. Alvarez's son, Trevor, worked at the Children's Care Hospital in Sioux Falls and brought a group of children in. Since that day, countless lives have been helped through My Fishing Pond. After a day of fishing, those fishing also get a chance to sit down to eat a meal prepared by the hosts.

As with any non-profit organization, My Fishing Pond faces struggles as well-namely financial struggles. The organization always looks to add things to the pond. The Mitchell Christian sophomore class spent a day in May of 2008 helping My Fishing Pond by cleaning and helping prepare for the summer season. My Fishing Pond also has to pay a considerable amount for insurance as well, and most of the money comes from donors. After a time of fishing, My Fishing Pond also provides a full meal for their participants, much of it comes from financial donations or food donations. Essentially, My Pond hangs on the donations of others.

However, even with these struggles, the possibilities seem endless. Through the gracious giving of supporters, My Fishing Pond continues to touch lives. In early May, Mr. Alvarez and the supporters of My Fishing Pond will gear up for a full summer. Near the end of May and throughout June, July, and August, the fishing pond will hold hundreds of visitors all trying to catch "the big one." The need for volunteers throughout the year always remains, so Mr. Alvarez is grateful for everyone who comes to work for an afternoon. Financial donations come as major blessings to My Fishing Pond as they always want to make My Fishing Pond better.

Even though Mr. Alvarez's life changed in a single moment, his life has remained a blessing to the countless volunteers and visitors of My Fishing Pond. His contagious passion and zest for life spreads and the smiles from those visiting about as contagious. While the history of My Fishing Pond seems somewhat important, the major importance rests on its future.