MCRC offers adventure on the Allegheny River

Times Observer photo by Lorri Drumm A group of about 19 people, including about 15 refugees from various countries, put their kayaks in the Allegheny River on Wednesday as they started a 6.4-mile trip. It was the first time the majority of the young people had ever been in a kayak.The refugees all receive services from the Multicultural Community Resource Center in Erie.

Sixteen-year-old Ineza Arian was the first of a group of 19 to launch her kayak into the Allegheny River on Wednesday. She went first because she was a ” little nervous,” but anxious to try kayaking for the first time.

Her reaction after the trip — “It was great.”

Arian was among a group of refugees from various countries to take a 6.4-mile trip on the river. Most had never been in a kayak.

The 19-person group from Erie was led by Paul Jericho, associate director of the Multicultural Community Resource Center (MCRC). It included 15 young people who receive services from the center and four adult chaperones.

Arian is from Uganda, East Africa. Other countries of origin represented by members of the group include Nepal, The Republic of Congo, Pakistan, Ukraine, Kurdistan, and Bhutan.

Times Observer photo by Lorri Drumm Allegheny Outfitters owner Piper VanOrd gives instructions and details to a group of about 19 people, including about 15 refugees from various countries, prior to a 6.4-mile kayak trip along the Allegheny River on Wednesday. It was the first time the majority of the young people had ever been in a kayak. The refugees all receive services from the Multicultural Community Resource Center in Erie.

The age range of the first-time kayakers was from 11 to 68.

Prior to heading to Warren, the group stopped at the Warren County Visitors Bureau for an official welcome from Executive Director Dave Sherman.

The group met at Allegheny Outfitters in Warren at about 10:30 a.m. Wednesday. Piper VanOrd, owner of the outdoor store that offers canoe and kayak rentals, gave everyone details and instructions prior to the excursion. She also gave everyone a whistle, to use in case of emergency.

Allegheny Outfitters donated its gear and services, and VanOrd led the float.

As the group sat down for lunch later in the afternoon, they applauded the fact that the many new kayakers didn’t need the whistle. Jericho said there was one slight fall out of a kayak as one of the young refugees was getting back in after a stop.

Times Observer photo by Lorri Drumm A group of about 19 people, including about 15 young refugees from various countries, went on a kayak trip along the Allegheny River on Wednesday. It was the first time the majority of the young people had ever been in a kayak. The refugees all receive services from the Multicultural Community Resource Center in Erie.

Many in the group admitted the trip was tiring, however, they not only learned new skills but saw things they hadn’t seen before.

The sights included, not surprisingly, a variety of waterfowl. What did surprise a few of the kayakers was the sight of an old steel bridge. The railroad trestle bridge that crosses the river caught their attention as they paddled the river.

The first-time kayakers also had some advice for others who may not have paddled 6.4 miles before. “Bring some food,” they agreed.

Following the float, lunch was served at the Allegheny Community Center.

Event organizer Bill Massa credited numerous individuals and local groups and businesses with supporting various trips to the area offered to refugees from the Erie center, including Wednesday’s excursion.

Following the hours-long trip on the river, everyone was especially grateful for the five dozen cookies baked by Youngsville High School student Anne Schwanke.