A local man who was instrumental in the preservation of Sampson’s waterways as well as in the lives of local youth was recently honored with a posthumous gift from the youngsters he influenced — that will benefit the waterways to which he tended.
Youth from Bethany Pentecostal Free Will Baptist Church in Clinton recently presented a $1,000 donation to the Friends of Sampson County Waterways (FSCW) in memory of the group’s past president Tim Tromp, who was also a youth teacher at the church.
Tromp regularly taught the children on Wednesday nights at Bethany and, this past Wednesday, the kids paid tribute to their teacher, who passed away in March following a bout with cancer.
Current FSCW president Karen Tyler accepted the $1,000 check. Eileen Jackson, who is handling public relations for the waterways group, said she and Tyler were blown away by the gesture.
“It’s a lot,” said Jackson. “We’re really humbled by that. It’s a blessing.”
The church’s Vacation Bible School theme this year was “Camp Courage” and they chose to honor Tromp because he was such a big part of the youth program. Knowing Tromp’s love of the outdoors, church officials and the children who grew up learning from Mr. Tim felt it fitting to donate the offering from VBS to the Friends of Sampson County Waterways in his memory. The church has also placed two benches on its playground and will soon add a monument.
The funds will be used toward repair and maintenance of boats, purchasing gas and oil for chainsaws and other expenses to assist the non-profit conservation group in its efforts across Sampson County.
Tyler, who has been with FSCW for three years, was elected its president in June.
“He was a very kind, honest, genuine and caring man,” Tyler said of Tromp. “It was very tragic for the club. He was very well-loved and well-supported by all of us. He was very considerate of everyone and their needs. He believed true change begins with you.”
And that’s what he imparted to the many youngsters with whom he worked, whether as part of the church’s youth group, local Boy Scout troops or others. He taught Scouts and others about the environment, boating safety and the importance of protecting and preserving the Earth’s natural resources — water being key among them.
“He was very devoted to safety, enjoying the waterways and being courteous of those with you,” Tyler noted.
She said the youth at Bethany PFWB Church further opened her eyes to another side of Tromp, one she got to know through the stories he would tell.
In his conversations with Tyler, Tromp described one particular little boy named Kole who he felt would become an environmentalist. He was one of the many children who Tromp took the time to teach and listen to, getting to know their characteristics and what they enjoyed doing, while imparting life’s lessons. As the group gathered for the check presentation Wednesday, one little boy was looking at flowers just outside the sanctuary doors before joining the rest of the children.
“I asked them what it was that God had asked of Adam to do when it came to the Earth, to engage them in what we at FSCW do,” said Jackson. “The children said that God told him to tend to the Earth, just as the organization strives in accomplishing.”
Jackson asked for some examples of that in today’s society. Each child, one by one, shared their answer. Then one little boy chimed in, the same one who had been examining the flowers just moments earlier.
“We should all ride bicycles to help take away all the fumes and pollution in the air,” he exclaimed.
Tyler knew in her heart this must be the boy Tromp had mentioned. She asked his name.
“Kole,” he replied.
“As he spoke his name, she broke into tears,” Jackson said. “It just touched her how influential Tim Tromp was to these children. Everyone we spoke to said the same thing. That he was a quiet man, but when he got around the kids, it was all about them.”
Many of the Bethany youth shared their thoughts about Mr. Tim with the FSCW representatives.
One child named Brooklyn was gifted a turtle by Tromp.
“Mr. Tim was all for us kids,” said another named Toni. “He was always going out of his way to make us happy. I thank him for sharing his love and for always putting us kids before himself.”
“Mr. Tim was always there when sometimes no one was there to teach,” yet another named Rylee remarked.
“He always knew when you needed something,” Sawyer, another Bethany youth, added. “He never quit!”
A teacher during the church’s VBS every year, Tromp worked hard to create fun lessons for the children. He played a role in all events that involved the children, even when he was sick and could not physically be there.
“He could always take and make a vision I would share with him come to life and special for the kids,” said Kelly Boyette, youth teacher at Bethany PFWB. “One time, even though he was very sick, he hung puppets for me. It was important to him to be involved no matter what.”
He had the same tenacity and dedication, even through his sickness, to the Friends of Sampson County Waterways. And Tyler said she wants to honor Tromp’s memory by continuing the efforts of the group and building on them in the years to come.
The waterways group is trying to gain more of a public presence and get the message of the group to others, and seeks to start a quarterly newsletter in the near future. The group explores local waterways, not only enjoying Mother Earth but picking up trash and clearing debris in order to keep waterways clean and flowing.
“I’m looking for more public awareness — what we’re doing and why we’re doing what we’re doing,” Tyler remarked. “Water is a sustainable resource. We need to make sure water continues to sustain life here.”
That resource needs to be preserved, Tyler said, and the FSCW seeks to ensure rivers, creeks and streams flow unobstructed through Sampson County. Tyler said she is grateful to those who allow access to the club for that job to get done and encourages others to get involved.
Most of the work is currently being done as the summer time allows the best time to clear debris because the water level is low and creeks are in their natural state. The waterways excursions offer a time to enjoy God’s Earth, while working to preserve it.
After all, as Tromp believed, true change begins with you.
“Our main goal is maintaining the boating right of ways in Sampson County so they can be enjoyed by all,” said Tyler. “Hopefully, this is the start of a new beginning.”
For more information, visit “Friends of Sampson County Waterways” on Facebook.
Reach staff writer Chris Berendt at 910-249-4616. Follow the paper on twitter @SampsonInd and like us on Facebook.