For a teenager, it's the opportunity of a lifetime to spend a week sailing on a 150-foot tall ship -- tying ropes, keeping watch and sleeping in hammocks while learning to work together as a close-knit team.
Through Project YESS -- Youth Empowered to Succeed through Sailing -- a handful of lucky teenagers are offered this rare opportunity each summer in Cleveland.
The program, which is organized by the Rotary Club of Cleveland, began in 2010 during the Tall Ships Festival. It has continued thanks to the dedication of a small group of volunteers who have raised funds for the project, which costs at least $1,500 per student. The group spends months identifying students with leadership skills who would not be able to afford such an experience.
On Friday, May 11th, Drinks for Do Gooders will host a benefit for Project YESS. Tickets cost $20 and include a drink ticket and appetizers. There will also be a separate raffle to win two free round-trip tickets from Southwest Airlines.
"Navigation is our theme, and it's not just about navigating on a ship," says Eileen Smotzer, a Rotary Club member who has helped to spearhead the YESS program. "Hopefully that message transcends to navigating through life and community. These students are the future leaders of our country and region."
Source: Eileen Smotzer
Writer: Lee Chilcote