Please Help Me Help the Seamen’s Bethel

New Bedford Port Society's Seamen's Bethel and Mariner Home

I’m on the board of managers of one of the most amazing maritime nonprofit organizations anywhere. It’s called the New Bedford Port Society and this paragraph from our website explains how we got started:

In the  late 1820′s, when New Bedford’s whaling industry was at its peak , several of the city’s leading citizens gave their deep consideration to the “character building” of nearly five thousand seamen employed out of this port.  On June 2, 1830 they organized under the title of the New Bedford Port Society, for the moral improvement of seamen and later became incorporated under the following act: An Act To Incorporate The New Bedford Port Society For The Moral Improvement Of Seamen.

One result of successfully discharging our mission for 130 years is that now we own two of the oldest and most important historic buildings in New Bedford, Massachusetts: the Seamen’s Bethel and the Mariners Home. In fact, from a maritime history/heritage perspective, it could be argued that we have two of the most important buildings anywhere.

Beautiful historic buildings like ours require constant TLC and this can be is extremely expensive.  We are currently underway with major restoration/preservation projects on both the Mariners’ Home and the Seamen’s Bethel and a result of this we have begun planning a major capital campaign so that future generations will be able to experience these historic treasures.

We recently announced a series of events called The Concert Series for the Seamen’s Bethel Restoration Project (simple, unambiguous name) and from which all of the proceeds will go to a special fund designated for Bethel repairs. The first concert is Thursday, October 21, 2010 at 7 pm and it will feature the storytelling and singing of Dillon Bustin and the Rum-Soaked Crooks. It’s sure to be a great time for a great cause.

I hope that you will join us but if you can’t, I still invite you to participate in supporting one of America’s most important maritime treasures. If the concert doesn’t fit your schedule or is too far away, please consider purchasing a ticket and donating it back to the Port Society so that we can sell it again. It’s a powerful way to leverage your gift.

If you want to contribute funds, products, services or ideas, please don’t hesitate to email me or leave a comment below.  Every little bit makes a real difference.

Thanks for putting up with this plug for a nonprofit that is very important to me and hopefully to many other Sea-Fever readers.

Register for The Concert Series for the Seamen's Bethel Restoration Project in New Bedford, MA  on Eventbrite

Grab an oar and make a difference. Vote for the Boat!

Okay if you visit this blog you must like boats. So join me in helping one of America’s most historic and beautiful vessels win a $100,000. grant from American Express.

How many times do you find yourself wanting to support a worthy sail training cause but can’t afford it? Well, here’s your opportunity to make a real difference and not have it cost you a dime! It’s pretty simple too, just watch this:

No excuses!

Go here everyday between now and May 12th and vote for Schooner Adventuress and the odds are she’ll win. She’s currently got a thin lead, let’s make sure she keeps it.

Here’s everything you need to know to make this happen.


Birthdays and Charity Water

Today’s my birthday and I wish I was as smart as this guy.

YouTube – The story of charity: water – The 2009 September Campaign Trailer

I’ve added a Charity Water widget over on the left so if you want to give me something for my birthday that will cost you NOTHING, please click on the widget, sit back and watch CBS’ 30 second spot for Three Rivers and they’ll make a donation to Charity Water. Now that’s easy and good of you! Thanks!

Don’t let this stop you from visiting the Charity Water website and making a $$$ contribution there too. It’s an awesome cause that could use your support.

I first saw this video on Swiss Miss. Thanks to Social Vibe for creating these cool widgets that support important causes.

Tall Ship Sailing and Social Media: US Brig Niagara Video

Back in July 2006, when I was executive director of the American Sail Training Association, I created this video in one evening from footage shot by the ASTA summer interns aboard the US Brig Niagara, one of the most spectacular ships in the fleet. I revisited it tonight after getting an email from my friend Billy who’s currently chief mate on Niagara and low and behold, we’re in spitting distance of 10,000 views. Can you spare a fella a watch and get it around this waypoint?

YouTube – TALL SHIPS CHALLENGE 2006 on US Brig Niagara

Begging for views aside, social media is an incredibly powerful tool for nonprofits to have in their toolbox. Think about it. Just a year before this video was made and posted, you really couldn’t do this sort of thing because Youtube did not even exist. A month after I posted it, the Wall Street Journal published one of the first articles about the online video sharing phenomenon. In 2 short years there are so many powerful video and other communication platforms available via the Internet that it will make your head spin.

My video has nearly 10,000 views with zero production or marketing budget. It’s not Disney or Spielberg but it doesn’t have to be. In fact, it probably shouldn’t be if you are a nonprofit. Storytelling through direct program participants is authentic and powerful.

Anyway, Billy got me thinking about all of this tonight so please go over and visit the US Brig Niagara blog to see what they are up to this winter.

Share this post :

Can you spare some change, for a Tall Ship?

New media tools allow nonprofits to reach out in ways never seen before. I’ve written about this previously here.

In the spirit of the Holidays, I present the following public service announcement for a new organization called the American Tall Ship Institute.

Their message is simple and concise. “Here’s what we can do, here’s what we need.”

If you-know-who ever read my previous post, this would be a good place to help out. Hope somebody can help make some kids’ Christmas really extra special.

Technorati tags: , , ,

Rocking the Boat changes kids lives

I was recently “tagged” by my leadership blogger friend Ed Brenegar of Leading Questions to participate in Alex Shalman’s Compassion, Caring, Charity project. This is the first time that I’ve been “tagged” like this so here goes…

Last week was a very busy one for me with several of my nonprofit interests.

SEA logo On Sunday and Monday, I traveled to Woods Hole, MA to participate in SEA Education Association’s semi-annual Trustee and Overseer’s meetings. This amazing organization sends young college students to sea on two tall ships, Corwith Cramer and Robert C. Seamans, for a fully accredited semester long programs. They also have summer high school programs and an occasional adult experience like the upcoming SEA Expedition program sailing throughout French Polynesia over 7 days in January 2008 (There’s still time to sign up! )

On Wednesday evening I had a Mattapoisett Community Sailing Association (MattSail) board meeting where I am pleased to serve as a pro-bono consultant to this community based nonprofit that teaches young people how to sail and more. From concept in January 2007 to running a pilot program teaching 12 kids to sail in July 2007 to having a Summer Gala in August 2007, MattSail is in the enviable position of having nearly 2 years of operating budget in the “hold” and a very promising future on the horizon! It been exciting to be part of this nonprofit startup.

Tabor Boy via Tabor Academy website Finally on Friday, I participated in a day long meeting at my high school alma mater, Tabor Academy, where I have served on the Headmaster’s Council for the past few years. Tabor, also commonly known as “The School by the Sea”, is where I began my sail training experience on the schooner Tabor Boy, an experience that taught me more about leadership (and life) than nearly any since. Earlier this year I launched The Tabor Boy Project which is a social media living history project and online community focused on Tabor Boy’s 50 plus years of changing young lives at sea under sail.

The above three organizations are all amazing and I devote lots of time, energy, thought and resources to each of them. However, in thinking about the Compassion, Caring, Charity project I kept gravitating to another incredible organization, Rocking the Boat in the Bronx, NY.

Rocking the Boat logoI first came across Rocking the Boat when I was executive director of the American Sail Training Association. In 2003, Adam Green, founder and executive director, attended the 30th annual ASTA conference in Providence, RI along with several of the program’s young boatbuilders. They set up one of their beautiful boats in the hotel lobby for all of the conferees and hotel guests to marvel over.

From the Rocking the Boat website:

Rocking the Boat is a boatbuilding and on-water education program based out of the southwest Bronx, New York City. Through a hands-on alternative approach to education and youth development, Rocking the Boat addresses the need for inner city youth to achieve practical and tangible goals, relevant to both everyday life and future aspirations. This process allows high school students to acquire practical, academic, and social skills. Rocking the Boat runs programming in both boatbuilding and environmental science, coordinating three after school and summer programs in each discipline annually, working directly with over 150 students, all of whom receive high school credit. During the process of building a traditional wooden boat, Rocking the Boat students create something not only beautiful, but practical in their own lives, bridging urban and natural life within their neighborhoods. This approach is mirrored in the on-water education program through direct focus on Bronx River habitat monitoring and restoration and through maritime life skills programming. Both programs allow students opportunities to gain a deeper awareness of their own abilities and possibilities in the natural and urban world.

This short video does a great job of capturing the essence of this powerful program. PLEASE watch it!

The Rocking the Boat website has lots of great photos and other interesting information about how they employ an effective peer leadership model to bring the art and craft of boatbuilding to under-served, at-risk youth in the Bronx, NY and change lives in the process.

In the September 10, 2007 issue of Time Magazine, Rocking the Boat and Adam Green were recognized in an article entitled The Activists as part of the cover story The Case for National Service. (Green was a 1998 Echoing Green Foundation Fellow.)

Rocking the Boat timemagazine9-10-07

On this Thursday (November 15, 2007), Rocking the Boat will be hosting their Whitehaul Award Fundraiser where they will be recognizing Edmund A. Stanley, Jr. and Jennifer Stanley Founder and President of The Robert Bowne Foundation. From Rocking the Boat’s website:

“In creating The Whitehall Award, Rocking the Boat is proud to recognize leaders in the fields of experiential education, environmental activism, and youth development. The honor is named for the distinctively elegant and practical wooden boat design that forms the majority of Rocking the Boat’s hand-built fleet. The Whitehall represents a “golden period” of maritime design and craftsmanship, its reliable and beautiful form remaining largely consistent since 1690.”

The event will be at the South Street Seaport Museum in New York City and I believe that there are tickets still available. So, if you are in the New York area and are interested in helping young people “find a star to steer by,” please considering going and supporting this worthy cause!

Part of the Caring Compassion Charity project involves “tagging” others, so these people need to look out because they are “it”:

  • Will Van Dorp writes my favorite maritime culture blog called tugster: a water blog about “New York harbor, the sixth borough.”
  • John Konrad is a master mariner, webMaster and CEO of, a single stop for all things maritime. He writes a great blog and created a cool Digg-like maritime news website called Discoverer where you can always find something interesting!
  • Scott Allen, PhD is the founder of the Center for Leader Development where he also heads up a team of leadership bloggers of which I’m proud to be included. I met Scott earlier this year as a co-participant in Harvard Kennedy School of Government’s program, The Art and Practice of Leadership Development.
  • Laura Athavale Fitton of Pistachio Consulting writes a must read business blog called Great Presentations Mean Business. A sailor in a past life, Laura is also doing some interesting things on Twitter, the micro-blogging platform. Anyone interested in how business and personal communication technologies are rapidly evolving should follow her here.

Thanks again to Ed Brenegar of Leading Questions for tagging me and giving me the opportunity to introduce a few more people to Rocking the Boat.

Technorati tags: , , , , , , ,

Ex-head of maritime museum may be heading up river for a long time

jailbird Today (Oct. 13, 2007) John Shiffman of the Philadelphia Inquirer reports that the federal prosecutor in the Independence Seaport Museum / John S. Carter case wants to send the ex-head of the museum up the river for a long time.

Assistant U.S. Attorney John J. Pease said that after the FBI raided his Philadelphia home, tipping him to the investigation, Carter unsuccessfully tried to swindle $1 million worth of life insurance from the museum. And, Pease said, after Carter pleaded guilty, he obstructed justice by lying to a probation officer and the IRS about his assets, including a time-share in Mexico, a 1934 Buick, and property in Maine and Nova Scotia.

“This defendant is without any moral compass whatsoever,” the prosecutor said. “John Carter is an offender who has yet to come to grips with the serious nature of his crimes. He is in a class by himself.”

Carter, who ran the nonprofit museum for 17 years, lived rent-free in its Society Hill townhouse while also being paid about $350,000 annually.

Here’s some sad but fascinating reading. (federal indictment)

Sentencing is scheduled for October 22nd.

Technorati tags: ,

Tall Ship Museum Looking for a Master and Commander


While the Independence Seaport Museum reported that they hired a new president yesterday, another of America’s great maritime museums is looking for someone to take the helm. And this one has their own tall ship! Continue reading Tall Ship Museum Looking for a Master and Commander

Rhode Island’s State Flagship looking for crew for the summer and beyond

Providence Maritime Heritage Foundation based in Providence, RI, operates the Continental Sloop Providence and is seeking crew for the 2007 sailing season, which will include tall ship events in Newport, RI and Halifax, Nova Scotia and beyond.

The Continental Sloop Providence is an historic 110′ tall ship engaged primarily in sail training and educational programming. Built in 1976, this reproduction of a Revolutionary War-era ship participates in educational programs for youth, sail training, re-enactments, corporate charters, and team-building programs throughout New England. The Providence carries a minimum crew of four professionals plus the captain and up to 49 passengers. Continue reading Rhode Island’s State Flagship looking for crew for the summer and beyond

Unique Peek in on a Troubled Maritime Festival

We rarely get the opportunity to get an inside look at what makes a maritime heritage event succeed or fail; however, last week the State of North Carolina published a Special Review of last summer’s Pepsi America’s Sail. (download pdf copy) It makes very interesting reading. I previously wrote about this here and here.

The majority of the report involves a land transfer that generated some confusion and controversy. The report also includes the responses from a number of interested parties including the Friends of the Museum who since their founding in 1979 appear to be a significant contributor to the growth and success of the North Carolina Maritime Museum.

Large scale maritime heritage festivals carry with them a significant level of risk for organizations to manage. They also consistently have a high public profile causing them to be subject to close scrutiny.  There are a number of valuable lessons in the audit report for all would-be event organizers. Continue reading Unique Peek in on a Troubled Maritime Festival