Charles D. Pope, the founder and inspirational leader of Youth Sailing Foundation of Indian River County (YSFIRC), announced his retirement from the organization at the end July. Pope is well known for his very active involvement in all aspects of the foundation that provides free sailing instruction to youth, from elementary students to high schoolers. He retains the title of Chairman Emeritus.
“[Charlie] has done an amazing thing with the foundation,” said Pat B. Harris, Chairman of the YSFIRC Board. “It is time to celebrate his success at YSFIRC. I know I speak for the board when I say we will not disappoint Charlie and we will build on his legacy.”
Charlie Pope founded YSFIRC in 2009 as a non-profit 501(c)(3) with a couple of small sailboats launched off a dock at Vero Beach Municipal Marina. Today, the organization has a fleet of over sixty sailboats and ten safety boats based at the lagoon-side campus of the Vero Beach Waste Water Treatment Plant at Indian River Boulevard and 17th Street. Over seven hundred Indian River County elementary and high school students learned to sail at YSFIRC, having fun while acquiring skills and confidence. The free sailing lessons are funded entirely through the generosity of a loyal and widely diverse group of donors.
“I want to thank the many donors who believed in me and Youth Sailing Foundation,” said Pope in his letter to the organization’s board of directors. “I particularly want to thank our very dedicated volunteers who mean so much and are necessary to running this nonprofit.”
Over fifty volunteers actively participate in on-water and classroom instruction, as well as the maintenance and construction of the sailing fleet. Under Pope’s guidance, many hands helped to build over thirty-five 8-foot Optimist wood sailing prams in the YSFIRC workshop.
Perhaps the most dedicated volunteer at YSFIRC is Charlie’s devoted and talented wife, Chris. Chris has been at Pope’s side every step of the way, providing practical and moral support. A tireless worker, Chris has translated many of Charlie’s ideas into reality including running Summer Sailing Camp at The Moorings Yacht & Country Club the past 6 years.
YSFIRC is currently gearing up for a new crop of young sailors, as well as welcoming back experienced hands. The new season launches under the direction of Executive Director, Stu Keiller, and new Sailing Director, Mary Morgan, who comes on board Sept. 1. The new staff at YSFIRC facilitates Pope’s transition to retirement.
“I feel with the management team now in place it is an ideal time,” Pope noted.
A reception to honor and celebrate Pope’s tremendous contribution to YSFIRC and the Indian River County community is planned for early fall to accommodate the full complement of volunteers, donors, students and parents. A date will be announced in the near future.