Point of View: TRAILS program thrived during pandemic thanks to community support

Dear Editor and Homer Community,

With 2021 behind us, we at TRAILS, the inclusive/adaptive recreation program of the Independent Living Center (ILC), want to spend some time reflecting and expressing our gratitude.

TRAILS (Total Recreation and Independent Living Services) promotes inclusion and facilitated activities for people of all abilities. TRAILS activities bring people together in a fun setting around common interests and provide opportunities to support one another and gain self-confidence and self-determination. We lead groups on various activities such as horseback rides, subsistence fishing, berry picking, canoeing, adaptive skiing, walks on local trails, bonfires and much more!. We also advocate for accessible recreation to help make our community more inclusive to folks of all abilities.

In spite of the global effects of COVID-19, TRAILS has been very successful this past year. We’ve focused on local, affordable outings and other community events, highlighting Homer in new and varied ways.

Due to the current situation of living with a global pandemic, TRAILS had to adapt and pivot in how we operated. TRAILS has had a staycation! We’ve held numerous bonfires and barbecues, led many group walks at different locations around the Homer area, and hosted regular Zoom socials. We have also assisted folks to access halibut fishing and thus put food in freezers, and we’ve helped folks hop aboard a scenic boat ride to visit Seldovia across the bay. We have been able to operate safely, carefully adhering to the most current health guidelines.

TRAILS could not have had such success without the tremendous generosity of the Homer community. TRAILS would like to thank a number of special groups and individuals. First off, thanks to Lenny and Paula DiPaolo from Kasilof Wood and Metal, who, with funding from Kachemak Heritage Land Trust (KHLT) and hands-on help from local volunteers, created a beautiful ADA ramp to access the wheelchair-friendly PoopDeck Platt Community Trail as well as a gorgeous accessible picnic table, now located behind the ILC/Hospice building. Improvements like these help our efforts to make Homer an inclusive community accessible to all.

Thank you to I love Homer for their generous contributions towards transportation that enabled our participants to attend more local events. Thank you to Don and Sherri Steads at Grace Ridge Brewery for their constant and overwhelming generosity in supporting our community and nonprofits. Thank you to Margot Reveil and Jakolof Bay Oyster Company for helping us hold another hugely successful fundraiser. Thank you to 100 Women Who Care for your generous contributions which go directly to assisting individuals have access to recreation.

And a special thank you goes to Patrice Krant for donating a beach wheelchair to TRAILS. This makes it possible for anyone to use a specialized wheelchair to roll across sand and rocks out to the water’s edge of our beautiful beaches.

We look ahead to the coming year with hope and excitement for new folks to join us and for our community to grow in how it welcomes every BODY. Find out more at www.peninsulailc.org and on Facebook at TRAILS ILC COMMUNITY CONNECT.

Thank you.

Michael Gavillot is Program Director of TRAILS at the ILC.