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  • Harvey Pye and Pam Gaskill

Fairfield Harbour Fishing Club angles for altruism

Wayne Massetti (left) and Harvey Pye (right) presented a certificate of appreciation to charter member Bob Bruggeworth at the completion of his 18-year tenure as Fishing Club facilitator.

Relatively speaking, the Fairfield Harbour Fishing Club is fairly new to the Harbour, having been founded in 2004 by Bob Bruggeworth, Elmer Stenzel, and Wayne Massetti. The original intent was to share fishing and local water conditions and to help maintain the waters and fishery. As the Club grew from a few dozen members, they aimed even higher by wanting to do good for mankind. They have followed through with this goal with two major programs over the years.

First, the “Take a Kid Fishing” program was born in partnership with East Carolina Big Brothers/Big Sisters (BB/BS) and their mentors. Take a Kid Fishing teamed a Club member with a kid and their BB/BS to go on the member’s boat to fish local waters. It provided the opportunity for members to coach and for the kids to catch fish. The fishing was followed by a picnic lunch where each kid received a tee shirt and a new fishing rod and reel.

Trophies were presented for catching the biggest fish, most fish, etc. Fishing Club member Ed Wall always publicized the event in the Sun Journal. Money to fund the cost of the day was raised from local business donors, plus car washes and bake sales held by spouses and friends. The rods and reels were all donated by fishing gear companies and retailers like Custom Marine Fabricators. All members paid their own costs for lunches and boat fuel.

This event evolved and was repeated over several years. However, inspired by the arrival of Eric Edmundson and his family, Bob Bruggeworth and the Club members wanted to initiate ways the Club could support active and veteran wounded military men and women. Eric, his son Hunter, daughter Gracie, and Dad Ed were all given honorary memberships to the Club. The Club contacted the Wounded Services coordinator at Camp Lejeune Marine Base to discuss taking wounded military men and women on a day's fishing aboard a head boat departing from Morehead City.

This huge undertaking required planning, organization, logistics, and finances. The Club couldn’t fund such an undertaking without creating serious income. An auction fundraiser was planned with Club members donating fishing gear and other interesting items that were auctioned to Club members and spouses during a “pig-pickin’” picnic. Club members and spouses covered the picnic costs and generously purchased the donated goods at the auctions. Thanks to the creative leadership, enough money was raised and logistics were managed so that we could proceed. A head boat was chartered, fishing gear and bait were provided, refreshments were available on board, and all the fish caught by the Wounded service people were cleaned and ice bagged and paid for by the Club. In addition, the Club hosted a full picnic lunch plus awarded trophies for biggest and most fish. Club members helped the service people fishing, setting bait, etc. as well as paying for their own costs of the trip plus the lunch, all in the true spirit of volunteering!

COVID has temporarily halted this annual event, but funds remain in the Club’s treasury to resume our program. Over the years, the donor outreach expanded to include donations from local retailers and the last auction brought in over $3500, thanks to the generosity of Club members.

In addition to the Take A Kid Fishing program and the fishing event for wounded service people, the Fishing Club is involved in other outreach programs. They donate baseball caps to cancer patients undergoing chemo and radiation treatments at Duke and CarolinaEast Hospitals. The caps are donated by local sportswear retailers and postage is covered by the Club. They also make annual donations to the Coastal Conservation Association of North Carolina to support best practices of fishery management and clean water initiatives. The Club has organized fishing tournaments with other Clubs from New Bern and Oriental and participates in fishing trips to Emerald Isle and Ocracoke. They also support the Fairfield Harbour community by sponsoring entries in the Holiday Parades and purchasing special banners that are hung by our entrances.

Bob Bruggeworth led the Club and ran meetings every month for the first 18 years and was involved in all the events. Meetings were like sitting and chatting around Bob’s kitchen table; it was easy, relaxed, interesting, and never short of ideas for help or donors. Bob never saw himself as the Club President or Club Leader but rather the “facilitator” of the FHFC. Nevertheless, it was Bob’s passion for the Club that has kept it running so smoothly all of these years. Membership is now over 100, including not only Harbour residents but people from outside as well. He retired from his position last December although he will remain active. In January, Harvey Pye assumed leadership, filling some very big shoes. As Harvey says, “With many new members, it’s important that they know what this Club stands for and that Bob’s legacy is understood and continued.” That includes the notion that the Fishing Club is about a lot more than fishing, but strives to make the world a better place for others. The Fishing Club welcomes new members to the monthly meetings, held on the first Wednesday of each month at 7 pm at the Community Center.

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