Piers Park Sailing Center Looks to the Future

In his masterpiece “The Great Gatsby,”  F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote “So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past”. The last lines of the novel were a metaphor of a burning desire to row against the flow of a current –even when it seems pointless. 

In this era of COVID we can relate to the ending of Gatsby as many are trying to row against a negative current even when it seems useless to do so. 

Harbor Explorers out on the water in kayaks this summer at Piers Park Sailing Center. The sailing program operated at only 20 percent of the enrollment of a normal year. However, the youth program cost more to operate in 2020 than it did in 2019.
Despite COVID and having to drastically change its operations, the Piers Park Sailing Center still had a successful summer. Now in the offseason the sailing center hopes to raise enough money to make 2021 even better.

Some have had success while others have not, but nonprofits like Piers Park Sailing Center (PPSC) are weathering the storm and continue to row against the current–hopeful that the pandemic will be over and the world will return to normal soon. 

“We have been a strong community through highs and lows,” said PPSC Executive Director Alex DeFronzo reflecting on this past sailing season and looking forward to next year. “Masked up, our students socialized, learned together, had fun together, and grew together.”

However, pulling off the program was a big challenge this year and it seemed the entire program was operating in those last lines of Gatsby. 

“We went from a 1:6 staff to student ratio to 1:2 and many of our usual routines went out the window,” said DeFronzo. “Our staff did it all with grace because one thing you’ll find in every Piers Park Sailor is the ability to adapt and persevere.”

The Sailing Center had 45 instructors on staff this summer with 26 teen instructor trainees.  

“We had 180 Harbor Explorers and 140 Science of Sailing students this past summer as well,” said DeFronzo. “That’s a community of 391, where in a normal year we would have more than 2,000.”

Now into the cold season PPSC is getting ready to run an in-person learning pod for high need students in partnership with Maverick Landing Community Services. This will allow students who are at home learning remotely to get the extra help they may need through the learning pod.

However, all this comes with a cost, and DeFronzo is hoping for additional community support as the pandemic continues to rage in Boston. 

“Even though that’s less than 20 percent of the enrollment of a normal year, our youth program cost more to operate in 2020 than it did in 2019,” said DeFronzo. “We plan to come back strong again in 2021. An inclusive harbor isn’t going to happen by itself – we need your help. Please join in and support what we are doing at Piers Park with a charitable gift today. Your past support was essential in the recovery and strengthening of our programs over the last four years.  Building an inclusive community on and around the harbor is a team effort and we are asking for your help.”

Donations to the Sailing Center can be made at https://piersparksailing.org/donate. 

“The 2020 CARES Act allows you to deduct up to $300 in charitable contributions even if you don’t itemize your taxes,” explained DeFronzo. “If you do itemize, the CARES Act also increases limits on charitable deductions.”

A generous matching gift made by the Piers Park Sailing Center Board of Directors and by Elizabeth and David Basile means that the first $5,000 raised through this campaign will be doubled. 

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