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Changemakers: Portland Navy veteran puts heart and soul into nonprofit Soul River

Chad Brown uses fly fishing to connect veterans and inner-city youth on a mission of conservation and healing.

CLACKAMAS COUNTY, Ore. — In honor of Black History Month, this February we’re recognizing "Changemakers" — African American leaders who help make our community and our world a better place.

Navy veteran Chad Brown fits the bill. He lives in Northeast Portland and founded the nonprofit Soul River. It pairs veterans with at-risk youth and takes them fly fishing. But learning to cast a line is just the start. There are deeper lessons about conservation and healing.

"That rod was kind of like my Bible and my river was my church," Brown said. When he discovered fly fishing on the Clackamas, he found peace and a reason to live.

After serving in Desert Storm and suffering from PTSD, he became homeless and almost took his own life.

"I found myself in the blood lines right up on 82nd giving blood for $20 to put gas in my tank," he said. "I used to go to M.L.K. to McDonald's and at night I would dumpster dive to get whatever food I could to eat."

But he emerged from that dark time determined to light the way for others the only way he knew how — waders on, fishing pole in hand, waist deep in the healing power of rushing water.

To learn more about Chad Brown and his efforts through Soul River Inc., find the complete article here.


May 8, 2022

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Joanne Gigliotti


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Rachel McVittie