By Christa Danilowicz
As I crossed the finish line of the Falmouth Road Race, I was full of emotions: Happy to be done, proud of trekking through the heat and humidity, joyful seeing my son and husband cheering me on, and bittersweet knowing my three-year “run” with the Fishermen’s Alliance is coming to an end.
I look back at my time here as director of philanthropy and am proud of it all. I remember my first day, not knowing anything about the commercial fleet, fisheries management, or regulatory policy, wondering how in the world would I ever catch up and be able to speak of it — I wouldn’t ever truly catch up, by the way, but I gave it my all. And I did come to know and (try to) understand people, community, and impact.
The Fishermen’s Alliance allowed my husband and me to move to the Cape, a dream that became a reality much sooner than imagined on my vision board. I fully immersed myself in the waters of Chatham and beyond, learning about fish I never knew existed and the commercial fleet’s daily challenges.
It was here where I first saw “heads and tails” in action at Hookers Ball, where I learned what a quota was, when I found out I was going to have a baby boy and start a family.
It was here where I first tasted dogfish and skate and became a loyalist in local seafood promotion, when I learned what EM, YFDA, MSI, NEFMC, ASFMC, and many more acronyms represented.
It was here when a “buffer zone” to protect herring and forage fish finally passed in the Cape’s favor after 15 years of advocacy efforts.
It was here when I caught a 49-inch striper in Nantucket Sound, where I had the opportunity to help grow and strengthen our board of directors, where we accepted a $150,000 challenge grant that we achieved and completed in one year.
It was here when I fully realized the “Cape way,” where I learned how vital the commercial fleet is to our blue economy.
It was here where I had many meaningful conversations with our supporters and made life-long friends, where John Pappalardo took a chance on me, provided me a platform and believed in me.
And now it’s my time to move on, but here is where I’ll remain.
I’ll be joining the team at Big Brothers Big Sisters of Cape Cod & the Islands and Massachusetts Bay as Senior Philanthropy Officer. Young kids all over the Cape and Islands are looking for someone to be a mentor, guide, friend, someone who can help them reach their potential. National research has shown that positive relationships between Littles and their Bigs have a direct impact on children’s lives. As a former Big Sister, I’ve seen that first-hand, and I look forward to being a part of making more Big and Little matches possible.
There are so many deserving nonprofit organizations on Cape Cod. Our region is well known for all of the efforts being made for improvement and growth in our community. What a wonderful place to live, work, vacation and play. We are the lucky ones.
I leave the Fishermen’s Alliance with so much pride, knowing it’s in great hands with my colleagues Jennifer Bryant and Brigid Krug. This dynamite team will flourish and achieve so much, and I look forward to watching and sharing their successes.
Thank you to everyone who came into my life because of the Fishermen’s Alliance. It’s been my pleasure working with all of you to invest in our fishing families and raise funding and awareness so that there is a future generation for fish and fishermen on Cape Cod.
Thank you for allowing me to be a part of this community. I am forever grateful.