To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the C&O Canal becoming a National Historical Park, we are featuring 50 Canal Stories throughout 2021. Each story will take a look at a person’s relationship with the C&O Canal. Whether an NPS ranger, a volunteer, or a visitor, everyone has a story to tell about the canal! If you want to share your story, submit it to us at the link here, email it to us at [email protected] or post it on your social media feeds with the hashtag #MyCanalStory.
Daofeng and Angela He, C&O Canal Trust Donors
Daofeng and Angela He, through their Daofeng and Angela Foundation, have sponsored 40 benches along the C&O Canal National Historical Park’s towpath, providing $185,000 to the C&O Canal Trust for park maintenance and beautification projects.
C&O Canal Trust: What is your relationship with the C&O Canal?
Daofeng & Angela: We live very close to the Park and always use the towpath and trails to walk and ride bikes. We feel we need to feed back into nature and national parks. People take more from nature then we feed back into it. That is the biggest challenge we as humans have to face.
C&O Canal Trust: Why did you decide to sponsor benches along the C&O Canal towpath?
Angela: For me, nature is very important. People need to take care of nature. At Great Falls, we saw the boat and the people enjoying the Park. Every Friday, I went to the Park to walk along the Billy Goat Trail. I would sit on a rock, and it was very peaceful. People use the Park to leave behind their stressful lives and feel peaceful. In nature, everything is peaceful. For this reason, nature and the environment is very important to everyone. It is the small things that are important. In the community and in our families, we take care of the small things and this helps us to take care of the big things.
Daofeng: Before I retired, I was involved in establishing a nonprofit in China. So I know about the nonprofit industry. Here in the U.S. I wanted to sponsor a local nonprofit that worked at the grassroots level. I wanted to make the funds from my foundation to flow to where it is really needed. A bench is a symbol of how we can reconstruct the relationship between humans and nature. It is important that the benches are made of reconstructed materials. Nothing is destroyed to manufacture them. We think of each bench and its location as a microclimate in the Park.
C&O Canal Trust: What is your favorite spot on the canal?
Daofeng & Angela: We enjoy hiking the towpath between Bethesda and Great Falls.