When Jim Gaebe retired from the Berkeley Police Department 18 years ago he knew immediately the one place he wanted to volunteer: the Pegasus Project.
The Berkeley non profit takes urban children on educational sails around San Francisco Bay on the 50-foot sail boat, Pegasus. "We've introduced a lot of kids to a whole new world for them," Jim says.
One Friday in early May, Jim was a volunteer member of the Pegasus' crew taking out a dozen children from Richmond's Crestmont School. And while 18 years may seem like a long time to volunteer for one organization, on this day it isn't enough to qualify as the longer-serving volunteer on the boat.
Or even second-longest.
The Pegasus Project has, among non profits, an enviable group of very long-term volunteers.
"For some of our volunteers, this is the most meaningful thing they do, outside of their immediate family." says Pegasus founder, Peter Hayes.
In its 20-year history, the Pegasus Project has taken roughly 13,000 school-age children out on the water, many of whom have never been on a boat before.
"It's a very powerful and provocative mission," Peter says.
As much as the children get out of the voyages, though, the volunteers seem to be getting a lot as well (and not just the chance to spend the day sailing on San Francisco Bay).
Patty Donald, a Berkeley city employee, has been with Pegasus since it set sail in 1994. She says the transformations the volunteers see in the children once they leave shore is reason enough to keep coming back.
"If it touches a place in your soul where you just feel like that's the passion I want, that's the change I want to make, you just keep coming back," Patty says.