Campus hosts film event for veterans

March 14, 2018
Mark Tarnacki
Staff Writer
Brother Frank ties flies

The header photo shows some volunteers doing a demonstration on tying large colorful flies for catching muskie. The photo directly above shows Brother Frank Hagerty, S.S.E., doing a fly-tying demonstration before Tuesday’s film festival in the McCarthy Arts Center lobby. Below are a few more scenes from the event by Ken O’Connell. At the bottom is the group gathered to watch fishing films in the Recital Hall — a nice turnout on a snowy evening.

The Vermont-debut of the International Fly Fishing Film Festival to benefit Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing was on March 13, 2018 on the Saint Michael’s College campus in the McCarthy Arts Center.

This event’s chief sponsor was The Green Mountain Program of Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing (PHWFF) and it was a benefit for the local PHWFF program, which serves injured and disabled military service personnel and disabled veterans in the greater Burlington area and conducts year-round fly fishing activities – fly tying, rod building, and fishing classes as well as numerous fishing trips throughout the year

The Vermont debut was sponsored in part by Saint Michael’s College, Saint Michael’s College Military Community Services Office, Saint Michael’s College Student Veterans of America chapter and Central Vermont Trout Unlimited Chapter #138. Those present from the Saint Michael’s community – military-community leaders active in Tuesday’s and other Project Healing Waters events  — were Chris Boutin, a student-veteran who helps run the campus chapter of SVA (Student Veterans of America) and was key in connecting St. Mike’s veterans to the festival (and many other such gatherings hosted on campus); and Ken O’Connell, the College’s coordinator of military community services.

In addition to the action-packed fishing films, Tuesday evening’s festival included fly-tying demonstrations, special guest speakers, a raffle, and the opportunity to learn more about the work of PHWFF in Vermont. The International Fly Fishing Film Tour (IF4) consists of short and feature length films produced by professional filmmakers from all corners of the globe, showcasing the passion, lifestyle and culture of fly-fishing. The films at this popular event are capturing the attention of anglers around the world, the film-tour promotion material states.vets in lobby

According to a posting on the Green Mountain Project Healing Waters Facebook page Wednesday after the program, “The IF4 Film Screening was a big hit last night. Big thank you to Green Mountain Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing Vermont Fly Guys the Central Vermont Chapter of Trout Unlimited and Saint Michael’s College for hosting this awesome event!”

Brother Frank Hagerty, S.S.E., of the College’s founding religious order Society of St. Edmund (in residence on the Saint Michael’s campus), is an avid fisherman and quite active as well with Project Healing Waters and Trout Unlimited. He was on hand Tuesday evening in the McCarthy lobby to do fly-tying demonstrations.

Hagerty said turnout for the festival was solid, even if possibly lower than hoped for because of the snowy weather. “People seemed to enjoy it,” he said, adding that another local fishing enthusiast also was in the lobby with him and tying the huge foot-long ties used to catch muskie, while Brother Frank was tying dry flies that imitate insects just hatching out and landing on water for catching smaller fish.

The Edmundite explained how Trout Unlimited and Project Healing waters have worked together several times to help out Project Healing Waters. Ticket sales for the film festival benefitted Project Healing Waters, and attendees “got to watch these movies about people catching huge fish” in the Recital Hall, he said, though admitting that he instead continued his demonstrations since “I just get jealous seeing that!”

Trout season starts the second Saturday in April and runs until the end of October, so many of the enthusiasts who have attended regular campus get-togethers in fall and winter to tie flies and build rods will be off on actual fishing excursions, he said.

Another key advocate of this local and Vermont-wide programming has been SPC (ret) Joshua Gerasimof, U.S. Army, program lead of the Green Mountain Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing program, from the Burlington Veterans Affairs Lakeside offices. The program is offered at no cost to participants. “We were excited to host the IF4 in Vermont!” said Gerasimof, explaining that the program “transcends fly fishing as it enables them to reconnect with their community and our great outdoors as part of their healing journey.”

“This special evening will help fund the equipment, supplies, trip costs and other expenses associated with providing our disabled veteran participants year-round fly fishing opportunities, in the classroom and on the water,” he said of Tuesdays film festival and related activities.Information: Call Josh Gerasimof @ Burlington Lakeside VA clinic @ 802-657-7089.crowd watching film

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