Here are some of our favorite photographs:
Debra Frenkel, Co-founder
Debra Frenkel, Licensed Clinical Social Worker, shares LOVE on and off the water! With her BA in Journalism, with a specialization in public relations and advertising (UCF), and her MSW in Social Work (Loyola University of Chicago), and her numerous years of work experience in business, she has put her cumulative skills to use in Freedom Waters Foundation, which she founded in March of 2006.
Through Freedom Waters Foundation, Debra builds bridges in much of what she believes in: sharing one’s love and passion; building a greater sense of community by building relationships beyond tolerance and understanding through shared experience; and offering opportunity and new ways of being to those who might not otherwise be exposed to full potential possibilities.
Debra was the Chairperson for US Sailing Disabled Sailing Championship for 4years (and involved since 1999) and wrote the preliminary manual for disabled sailing for U.S. Sailing.
Debra also holds a Florida Real Estate Associates license. Is a certified diver, and has numerous hobbies: dancing, reading, travelling, making art, writing, fitness, and always trying something new.
In March 2013, she was one of five honorees at the American Association of University Women’s Luncheon for her work in Freedom Waters Foundation. Other awards received include: Yachtworld Hero Award, and the Hodges Unversity’s Dr. Harold Russell Excellence in Diversity Award.
John Weller. Co-founder
The wind was howling out of the northeast at 40 knots when John Weller and Kate first pulled into the inlet in Ft. Pierce, FL from New York. Their destination was the South Pacific for a 2-year minimum amount of time to explore the islands onboard their Palmer Johnson Rhodes 41’. That was 1975 and they’ve been here ever since due to a chance meeting on the docks with a broker from Richard Bertram & Co. Soon John would be having a job interview that included jogging on the beach at the Bath Club in Miami with the world-famous legend of yachting, Dick Bertram. He landed the job and made a lasting friendship with Dick until he passed away in 2000.
John grew up on the South Shore of Long Island and became a hard-core boater at age 12, when he purchased his first boat. There would be many more to follow… he started out living aboard a 1934 50’ Elco, that they lovingly restored from stem to stern. Two years later he got the sailing bug, purchased the Palmer Johnson, and headed south to the tropics.
Currently, John lives and works in Ft. Lauderdale. He feels very fortunate in life to be able to get up in the morning and do something that he really enjoys. His daughter, Clancy, is now following the family tradition in the boating industry pursuing her Charter career in Ft. Lauderdale. Old cars and motorcycles take up another part of his life-his goal is to put 200,000 miles on his 134,000 (present mile) motorcycle. Yet the place of choice is still on the water-preferably in the Bahamas on the sailboat that he’s kept for 16 years in Man-O-War, Abaco.
Andrew Cilla, President
New Jersey-born Cilla grew up on the water, spending his summers fishing and sailing. When he was just 11, be bought his first boat, a 10-foot gaff rigged dinghy. Savings from summer jobs in local boatyards and marinas also helped him attend college where he studied economics and business administration. His first job was a marketing position with a boat builder. In 1976, he joined brokerage firm Luke Brown Yachts and a year later, he bought the financially challenged firm and became president. He has been at the helm of the company ever since. His tenure at the helm of the company, which he successfully stirred through challenging times, and volunteer community work earned him the Florida Yacht Brokers Association honorific title of Broker of the Year in 2012.
One of his commitments to the community is his work with Freedom Waters Foundation. He began getting involved with Freedom Waters as a volunteer nearly 10 years ago, donating his time to take children and their families out of his 39-foot boat, the Rachel Ann. Some 50 outings later he became president of the foundation, again a volunteer position. His office, off of Cordoba Road in Fort Lauderdale, has become the hub and home of the association on the east coast of Florida.
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Here is a sampling of media that has covered Freedom Waters events.
- Southern Boating interview with FWF founder Debra Frenkel – August 9, 2013
- Life in Naples, April 2011 PDF download, (pages 32-33 with an article by our own Debra Frenkel on page 58)
- Naples News – March 15, 2011 – “Freedom Waters celebrates five years of service to children and their families”