Partnership raising funds for ‘Fun Camp’

Courtesy photo Cast Hope began as a nonprofit connecting children with the outdoors and fishing.

On Monday, May 13, Journey Community Church and Cast Hope are holding its Sixth Annual Journey Community Church Golf Tournament. Proceeds from this event will raise revenue for Journey Community Church’s Summer Fun Camp Program. This year, Journey is partnering with Cast Hope to foster life-changing connections between community public safety ambassadors and young lives. Through fishing.

The tournament will be held at Singing Hills Golf Club at Sycuan, beginning at 11 a.m. and teed off by the tournament’s inaugural golf ball helicopter drop. The tournament will be topped off with an awards dinner with live and silent auctions.

Golf tournament chairman and Cast Hope Community Outreach Leader Manny Aceves said Cast Hope, a nonprofit, gives the gift of the outdoors through the sport of fishing to underserved and at-risk youth in East County.

“The youth will usually have a mentor, which could be a teacher, a parent, and we partner them up with professional fishing guides,” he said. “The wonderful thing about it is that these trips are ongoing.”

Aceves, a retired teacher, said when he started the program, he began with one of his students who was a third grader, and is now a freshman.

“Cast Hope allowed me to go fishing with a student on a weekend, and I was not taking care of her myself. We were going on these guided fishing trips. It has been amazing. She is a freshman, still fishing, and I am still mentoring her,” he said.

Aceves said Cast Hope is also providing these fishing trips to first responders. He said living in La Mesa, this began when he witnessed the May 30, 2020, riot in La Mesa.

“I was watching the city burning and wondering what I can do, and how can we mend relationships,” he said. “Many of my students had incarcerated family members. What if Cast Hope could go on these trips with law enforcement, meet, and form relationships? They are just people. Then it branched out to first responders, police, firefighters, and that they could take a day and take their children out on these trips.”

Aceves said Cast Hope has been working with the El Cajon Police Department and were able to go on their first trip to Barrett Reservoir.

“Cast Hope rented out the entire lake and we had participants from the El Cajon PD, the East County Transitional Living Center, and we had this amazing fishing trip,” he said, adding that Cast Hope is now reaching out to military families as well.

“Military, first responders, they also need that ability to build relationships with their kids and have mentoring along the way as well,” he said.

Aceves said the golf tournament is helping Journey Community Church and supports Cast Hope.

“We are excited about the helicopter golf drop. We rented a helicopter. They are going to fly over at 10 a.m. in the middle of the fairway and drop 500 golf balls. We are selling golf balls at $25 per ball. Half of the proceeds go to Summer Fun Camp and Cast Hope. The other half is going to cash prizes. It is one of our fundraisers. We were happy to have Whissel Realty Group as our golf ball drop sponsor to make this possible,” he said.

Aceves said for dinner and auctions, they have items for everyone.

“We have many fishing opportunities. A staycation in Coronado at the Glorietta Bay Inn, dinners at the Brigantine, and many great items. Our clientele are regular people, so we do not have large beginning bids. Do we want people to open their purse and be generous? Absolutely, but our auction items are accessible for regular people,” he said.

Cast Hope started working with the La Mesa/Spring Valley School District, where Aceves worked at Spring Valley Elementary.

“Cast Hope can take people on trips. So, we partner up with groups and organizations. We specifically started out with my school, but now we have branched out,” he said. “We pay our guides. We have sponsors of Cast Hope that want so much to get kids out of their homes and into nature. What we found is that when they are out of their homes and away from their phones, there are conversations going on. I found that when you start building relationships, you begin mentoring them. And that is the exciting part. Fishing is great, but it is really an avenue to get them outdoors and mentored by adults who care and give them good advice as they are growing up. Typically, our kids are from 8 to 17.”

Cast Hope began as a nonprofit teaching fly fishing, but Aceves said now they just teach youth how to fish with many of them working themselves up to fly fishing and making their own flies, another thing that the organization teaches the youth.

“We provide all the fishing gear for them,” he said, knowing that if they do this, they will also fish with their guardians other than Cast Hope fishing trips. “That is what is so great about this program. When I retired from teaching, I was not done with mentoring kids.”

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