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updated: Dec 04, 2010, 8:30 AM
Seafaring Opportunities For Those In Need (SOFTIN), Inc. is a 501c3 nonprofit
organization providing at-sea educational adventures for special-needs people.
SOFTIN's mission is to enhance the lives of people with disabilities or
impairments, victims of abuse, frail elderly and youth-at-risk, by providing
enabling lessons and educational adventures aboard a safe and comfortable vessel
with caring and professional crew.
We maintain a small staff of uniquely experienced and motivated specialists
trained to teach safe at-sea learning and skill-enabling curriculum. Our
techniques include small-group lessons and nature interpretation, incorporating
skill-building lessons designed to help each special-needs individual build
knowledge, competence and self-esteem.
Working collaboratively with qualified nonprofit agencies also serving special- needs people is how we bring SOFTIN's services to the community. Our
collaborative partners (including Alpha Resource Center, Child Abuse Listening
and Mediation (CALM), YMCA, Parents of Special Education, foster care
administrators, and others) select people - based upon needs assessments or
rewards systems - for SOFTIN excursions.
Curriculum content includes lessons on vessel types (rescue, enforcement,
research, commercial fishing, energy industry) and waterfront job/career
opportunities. We offer boating and marlinspike seamanship lessons. We provide
seasonal narrated viewing, and counting opportunities for; sea lions, harbor
seals, porpoise, dolphins, whales and seabirds. We provide recreational and
subsistence skill-building catch & release fishing lessons involving rigging,
baiting, techniques and safe (for the angler and the fish) fish handling.
Additional curriculum components include marine debris prevention, water quality
management, marine habitat protection, wildlife monitoring and management and
lessons about the interdependencies of the critters of the sea. Our underlying
goal is to establish an emotional connection between our passengers and the
critters. The moment that connection is established, something magical happens.
Thick emotional shells our special-needs people live with are able to crumble
and the connection with critters is happily and spontaneously celebrated -
usually with hooting, hollering and ear-to-ear grins.
Tangible benefits take the form of enhanced knowledge about various waterfront
work and vessels, wildlife and habitats. People discover what they can
accomplish, rather than concentrate on what they cannot do. Intangible benefits
come in the joyful gratitude of those we serve, after a day of watching them
learn, grow and commune with nature and the critters of the sea. It is
priceless, yet our work has its costs and requires dependable funding sources.
SOFTIN, Inc. was begun by a team of committed volunteers and donors with
appropriate skills, experiences and assets to provide at-sea learning
experiences to the disabled, impaired and disadvantaged. Founders include
competent seafaring professionals with experience transporting passengers and
also with backgrounds working with special-needs people. We have a Board of
Directors chosen carefully for their ability to help us achieve our mission.
As a public charity program, we seek funding from individuals, corporations and
organizations with the heart to serve the neediest among our community. We also
seek to establish collaborative relations with additional area nonprofits who
serve the special-needs community so that we can collectively improve overall
quality of life and educational experiences for the special people we
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