River guide Kerron Barnes realized some of his younger coworkers were struggling with turbulence, not on the water, but in daily life.
One woman employed by Whitewater Challengers – a company known for its rafting excursions on the Lehigh River and two New York waterways – wanted to enroll in college but lacked the funds, Barnes says. Other teen and twenty-something workers also appeared adrift, briefly attending colleges, then dropping out for financial reasons.
Barnes grew determined to help and, after brainstorming more than eight years ago, enlisted the support of his boss.
He and Whitewater Challengers owner Ken Powley of Rice Township,d to offer qualified employees of the collaborative outdoor adventure company with financial assistance for higher education. Each man donated their own funds to create the Kerron Barnes/Whitewater Challengers Scholarship Fund. To date, 8 deserving students have benefited from the thoughtful generosity since the scholarship’s inception. The Fund continues to grow with investment interest and other donations.
Barnes recalls the moment he electronically transferred money to establish the scholarship fund administered by The Luzerne Foundation. “I hit ‘send,’ and that’s the best thing I’ve done in years,” he says.
“It seemed to fill a hole, something missing for me,” Barnes explains. “(The scholarship) supports a chance for a kid to better themselves.”
Barnes spent 45 years as a River Guide for the Weatherly-based Whitewater Challengers and is now focused on grant writing, building parks and trails and leading hikes and trail walks near his home in Sullivan County, New York
A beneficiary of scholarships in his younger years, Barnes spent much of his career as a community developer. He understands the patience required to build something useful and appreciates permanence. That’s one reason that his name is attached to the Whitewater Challengers scholarship.
“It’s important for me to leave something behind so that my legacy will be to continue helping even after I’m gone,” he says.
Thanks to donors’ generosity and The Luzerne Foundation’s guidance, the Kerron Barnes/Whitewater Challengers Scholarship Fund will last long after Barnes hangs up his paddles for the final time. His life’s work will continue to impact others, leaving a legacy of beautiful, ever-expanding ripples.
Should you wish to support the Kerron Barnes/Whitewater Challengers Scholarship Fund, please feel free to donate via the website listed below or by mail. If you are similar to Kerron and have a cause near to your heart and want to make a difference here in Northeastern Pennsylvania — please give us a call at the Luzerne Foundation.
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Here for good. ™
C. David Pedri is President and CEO of The Luzerne Foundation. This new weekly column series is an advertising partnership between the Luzerne Foundation and the Times Leader. For more information about the organization, visit www.luzfdn.org or call 570-822-2065.