Camp Laurel was such an amazing and unforgettable experience. I first stumbled upon the Laurel Foundation through an email from my college. I read the short synopsis of what they do for children affected by HIV/AIDS and when I looked more into it, I found the camp counselor position to be very interesting and something I knew I would love to do.
The Laurel Foundation became part of my life when I was 7 years old. My mom went to North County Health Services and they mentioned it to her as a way for me to be around other kids that were also affected by HIV/AIDS. My sister and I had an understanding that our mom was sick, but we didn’t really know exactly what it was.
I recently visited with one of our campers to introduce her to her new mentor through our LEAF Mentorship Program. As we all chatted I asked her if she had received her camp photo from Winter Family Camp. She said, “Oh yeah, it’s already up on my wall. You wanna see?” Her face lit up as she stood up to show us to her room. When we walked in the door I could hardly believe that this young teenager (you know how teens can sometimes be “too cool for school”) had her entire wall above her bed covered with years of pictures and memorabilia from Camp Laurel.
In that moment I couldn’t help but think of you; our amazing volunteers. You have made such an impact and become a source of joy and hope to so many of our families in a way that you couldn’t possibly know. You are the faces on their walls encouraging them and reminding them that someone believes in them. You are the memories in their hearts reminding them to laugh and try new things and to be adventurous. You are a part of them and a part of us.
The great men and women of our time were not necessarily the wealthiest or the most charismatic or even the most popular. They were people that possessed a generosity of spirit and a hopeful determination to see our world grow in love and service to others. Our volunteers are beautiful reflections of these legendary souls and we are undone with gratefulness for your commitment to The Laurel Foundation.
Next week is National Volunteer Week. We wish that there was something that we could give to each of you to show our gratitude, but our hands our empty. Our hearts however, are full of love and appreciation for you. You make a difference; you change lives.