The term “volunteer” is defined as one who does charitable or helpful work without pay or one who performs a service of one’s own free will.
Here at Camp Pa-Qua-Tuck, the volunteer worker is equivalent to GOLD! In the three years that I have been at the helm, I have met and worked with many people, some young and others more mature, who have left me speechless (a difficult enough task!) because I marvel at their commitment to the human race. Please allow me to showcase several folks who have impressed me personally with their commitment to the greater good.
Matt O’Mara, a young man and a talented musician, hiked the Appalachian Trail in a fundraiser for Camp Pa-Qua-Tuck in the summer of 2013. Quietly, he wanted to make a difference. Matt is a gentle, talented individual who was so positively impacted by the work done here that he wanted to help. While he hiked the trail, he sought “sponsors,” not for his gain but to donate the proceeds to the camp. You can follow some of his adventures at: www.letshiketocamp.com.
Liz Holzknecht, a young woman and a dedicated sister and daughter, will be running a half-marathon in Boston, on June 8th, 2014, to celebrate the life of her sister, Katie. Katie spent many summers and respite weekends at Camp Pa-Qua-Tuck during her short, beautiful life. Sadly, Katie passed away last September. You can see Liz’ efforts in Katie’s name and in a fundraising effort for the camp at: www.crowdrise.com/runningforkate.
Then, there are the unsung heroes who'd rather have no fanfare be made of their efforts. Lillian Lennon, a retired special education teacher with the William Floyd School District, and a former Camp Pa-Qua-Tuck staff member in the 1970s, approached me one day in January 2012, asking what she could do with “some extra money.” Well, thanks to Lillian, we now have a beautiful, serene, accessible Memorial Garden to celebrate the lives of campers who have left the world too early. It is a selfless tribute to the “angels” who “shaped her career.”
Members of the Boy Scouts, Biodex, and other deceased campers’ families gathered together after Hurricane Sandy to create and dedicate this happy place on camp. Lillian speaks with the family and learns about the camper, has a memorial stone heart personalized in memory of the camper and sets it in the garden. We have integrated caring for this garden into our summer outdoor education component and, now, we have new campers planting, watering and enjoying the sanctity of the garden.
The list could go on and on! The list encompasses groups and organizations that exist to help others. I am so amazed to see this component of the human heart! So often, we only hear about the most horrific and the most degrading, as these stories grab attention in the news.
Volunteerism is like aging, I have learned. It has a very equalizing effect on people. Roles and judgments disappear. The CEO works alongside the newest hire for a large company; the attorney and doctor share a moment and a cold water and sweat with local high school students as they spread mulch in our gardens. The mechanic and school superintendent paint a room together. There are no elite positions in volunteerism, just pure heart. And here at Camp Pa-Qua-Tuck, we love hearts! We salute the backbone of our past, present, and future volunteers! From the bottom of our hearts … thank you!