The Heart Connection is an amazing organization that is filled with love and support. This organization makes a difference in the lives of the people that it touches. Through the many events that I've volunteered at for The Heart Connection, I can see how hard the staff, volunteers and supporters work for this organzation.
The weeks I have spent volunteering at Camp Heart Connection have been amazing! To see Oncology Campers who have been so sick during the year thriving outdoors and to see Sibling Campers who are often in the shadows during the year get attention showered on them makes my year. Camp Heart Connection changes lives of both the kids and the staff.
I was introduced to the Heart Connection when my 3 yr. old son, Derek, was diagnosed with brain cancer November 2007. The staff provided a treatment book to help us keep track of all of the procedures, appointments, doctors, and medicines he would need for the next 16 months. Later the Heart Connection further help our family by allowing our daughter 6 yr old Jenna to go to camp with other siblings with the same experiences as her. She realized she was not alone and it allowed her to escape from the realities of cancer and enjoy being a child. She is anxiously awaiting camp this year and has already said she wants to be a counselor when the time comes. In addition, the Heart Connection has helped us with the creation of ClupHOPE, an organization fo parents caring for children in any stage of diagnosis, treatment, recovery, or rememberance. Families can meet and discuss the struggles they are facing with caring individuals who understand the problems, The warmth and caring offered by the Heart Connection is unsurpassed. Heart Connection events are a highlight on the calendar and always something to look forward to in the month. It is a respite from the stress and worries that treatment brings. It is an environment of trust, respect, fun, and love.
I have been volunteering with The Heart Connection for over a year now and am very impressed with how they operate. Their cause is noble and their effect can be seen directly impacting the children and families that they serve. This is a very "hands on" organization and is well known in the community for the work that they do. I always feel that my time is appreciated and necessary to support their cause. Knowing that something I did helped make a sick child smile is just an amazing feeling.
The Heart Connection is such an amazing organization! They offer so much support for the families and all the activities and programs are top notch!
Our entire family has been involved with The Heart Connection Children's Cancer Programs since it's beginning. We have had campers at both the oncology and sibling camps. Our campers have served as staff and counselors. Our extended family has volunteered for 10 years at oncology camp and it is absolutely, the most rewarding thing I have done in my life. Camp and events provide so much to so many, fulfilling the NEEDS of whatever the camper/family is coping with. Every family member is effectived by this horrible disease and THCCCP addresses those issues. Camp staff is amazing and the campers are everyone's top priority. We have volunteered at events outside of camp, done fund-raising in our hometown and volunteered in the office. ALL have been wonderful experiences that make you feel good about helping these families.
I have had the pleasure of working with the Heart Connection since it's inception many years ago. My original role was as a staff nurse for our onoclogy camp. To watch a child with cancer go swimming, horse-back riding, climbing "the wall", dancing with a new best friend or love is just amazing!! For many of them, it's the first venture back to "normal" life. Later I have become both a financial supporter, and more importantly an advocate for making sure that all of our families know about the wonderful programs that The Heart Connection provides for them. We receive a wonderful treatment notebook that we simply fill in with the appropriate pages for each child's care plan that I hand out to families at the time of diagnosis. Our parents love having everything in one organized space. Some of our kids actually look forward to painful procedures because they get a new bead for their necklace through the Beads for Bravery program that the Heart Connection funds and supports. I've had the pleasure of attending several family camps as a leader for parental group sessions wherein not only the child with cancer, but the entire family get to experience the camp expericence and weekend of fun. The siblings of our children with cancer look forward to attending camp year after year. They are made to feel very special for a whole week and the focus of attention is on the sib rather than the ill child. New programs looking at support groups for the parents and sibs in the commumity, looking at issues of long-term survivorship, and just providing special experiences for our children with cancer are in the beginning phase. The most wonderful thing about the Heart Connection is that they provide all these services to our families at NO COST. Many of them are very financially strapped to make ends meet with all the extra expenses of bills not paid by insurance, extra travel and child care expenses, loss of income from one of the parents needing to quit working to care for the ill child, etc.
I started with The Heart Connection first as a Sibling Camper more than 20 years ago. What a wonderful experience it was to spend time with other kids that understood what it was like to go through the experience. The Heart Connection provides that support to the entire family and that is what makes them such a great organziation.
This is an amazing program I have had the pleasure of being involved with for over 20 years. As a sibling, I found a community who understood what my family was going through and other children who knew what it was like to be lost amidst the chaos of cancer treatment. Little did I know that 20 years later, many of my fellow campers would still be close and dear friends. That is the wonderful part of the Heart Connection; it is not only an organization that helps during the crisis phases of cancer. It is a community that remains in contact and will see you through not only treatment, remission, treatment, or (sadly) loss - but also graduations, marriages, children and more.
Last year was my first year volunteering at Heart Connection camp. The experience was unbelievable: a whole week of sharing stories, meeting friends, and limitless fun. Camp truly gives children and families affected by cancer the opportunity to step outside the confines of illness for a while and just live.