Once in a while in this life someone exceptional extends a hand in giving to someone he doesn't know and creates something extraordinary. On July 15, 2009, Gary Stueve, owner of 3Heart Outfitters donated a pontoon boat fishing trip to residents of Valley Vista Care Center, a 24-hour skilled nursing facility located in Sandpoint, ID.
Annie D., Jim H., Michael L., Don Dinning And Chris H. Enjoyed A Fishing Trip Donated By Gary Stueve.
When Gary offered this trip, I jumped at the chance to give our residents a unique experience beyond their immediate world. Knowing Gary, I had a reasonably good idea of what this trip would be like and Gary did not let any of us down. Gary is proof positive that the best reason to do something is because you love doing it and the courteous attention and solicitation Gary and his crew gave to our residents and staff demonstrated the high caliber of 3Heart Outfitters.
As Gary and I planned this trip, we focused on this being another adventure for our residents, with the primary goal being one of simple enjoyment that would allow our residents to participate in something they had never done or been unable to do for some time. There can be a perceived fragility attributed to residents in nursing facilities and, while that might ring true for them physically, never underestimate the power of the human spirit!
On a more personal note, whenever someone is willing to flood our residents' lives with light and inspiration, I am all for moving mountains to ensure that happens. Gary was perfectly comfortable with any medical and health issues of our residents and 3Heart Outfitters was uniquely capable of working with us in that regard.
Gary felt it would be best if we put the boats in at the Copeland Bridge north of Bonners Ferry; fishing was better and the valley much prettier. Gary's entire family met us at the boat launch and there was a bustle of activity to load both boats. One of our staff had brought along her four-year-old grandson, River, so we had a range in ages that spanned more than seventy years.
The deep-throated rumble of the boats marked our pushing away from the docks and we headed east down the smooth fluidity of the Kootenai River. I had forgotten about the magnificent power of the Kootenai River and the pull of the valley, with staff and residents alike in a relatively relaxed state of enchantment as the countryside unwound.
The pungent aroma of cow pastures wafted down the banks and the floating fluff from cottonwood trees coated the surface of the river. The sudden eruption of birds taking flight and the waddling behinds of baby ducks added to the mosaic of memories for all of us.
Gary's expansive knowledge of the Kootenai Valley and beyond enthralled the residents as much as the timeless harmony of nature. Dazzling vistas under a blue linen sky and the sense that we were in our own little world were tonic for the soul; this was giving in its purest form. While we are all part of a greater whole in the web of Life, Gary's generosity of spirit is a coveted commodity that permanently changed all our lives for the better.
Of course, our trip mates added tremendously to this outing as I dubbed one boat the "Gilligan's Island Three Hour Tour Boat!" Well, you had to be there…sorry Don! Several of us engaged in the theatrical and amplified hoots that echoed down the river and out into the valley.
At VVCC, we are often entertaining for our residents and this day was no different. Being able to participate in an outing of this magnitude with our residents gave me a deepening appreciation for living and of that basic human need for contact with another person. The hint of triumph on the faces of the residents when they reeled in a fish generated awe for the way simplicity inspires feelings of greatness.
About halfway through the trip, we tied the boats together and enjoyed a home-cooked chicken dinner and dessert. Everyone ate heartily, even one of our picky eaters, and we continued on with our fishing. The insularity of the Kootenai Valley nestled in shadows and the weathered beauty along the banks of the Kootenai River are snapshots our residents will carry in their memories until their memories fail them.
As the first twinges of twilight blanketed our river world in shadows, Gary and Don headed the boats back to the docks. There is an undeniable fact that Gary Stueve's innate goodness, if said to his face, would leave him blushing. What Gary gave to our residents and staff that day was so much more than a fishing trip. His giving resonates within and is a magnificent inspiration to the rest of us. A simple act of kindness is never simple and radiates out to touch even unintended recipients.
The rare blend of heart and knowledge that Gary brings to the table is a recipe for surefire success of any outing that 3Heart Outfitters does. As the telltale remnants of a remarkable day slid behind spectacular mountains, VVCC thanked Gary Stueve for being the uncommon man that he is.