Serious Fun Children's Network
September 16, 2009
As a mom and a kid’s book writer, I have volunteered for lots of non-profits over the years. None of my volunteering experiences have had such a powerful effect on me as Hole in the Wall Camps. I have volunteered as a “Family Pal” at Family weekends for kids with sickle cell and hemophilia; I volunteered at a special events gala and had the thrill of seeing Paul Newman dress up as Little Orphan Annie, but perhaps my most profound experience was when I volunteered at one of their Hospital Outreach programs in Orlando, Florida.
My first impression of the program was, hey this isn’t that much different from volunteer work I did at the Audubon Society. I read a book; we worked with the kids on an art project and created puppets for a Puppet Show. What immediately struck me however, was not only the positive, contagious energy of the staff, but the way they treated the kids with such, respect, love, and caring. Some of the kids were dragging IV Poles with them, some wore scarves around their heads, doctors and nurses came in frequently to poke or prick them, but the Hole in the Wall staff was on a mission – a mission to have fun, and to put on the wackiest puppet show in the history of the Florida Children’s Hospital.
As not all children had the energy to get out of bed and join us in the program room, I took the art project to the bedside of “Diego”, a frail boy who looked to be about nine or ten. Diego was surrounded by toys his grandfather had recently brought him- Transformers, Nintendo games, comic books- how was I supposed to compete with this armed only with a box of crayons and a paper bag? I was surprised when Diego pushed aside the Transformers and began drawing on the paper bag. His owl was almost complete when a nurse arrived, announcing it was time for his treatment.
A few hours later, staff kids and volunteers were ready to perform the puppet show extravaganza of the century! The Hole in the Wall staff asked if Diego was coming, but his parents and nurses doubted it. They had tried for days to get him out of bed, but he had no interest, his counts were down, they didn’t think he would have the energy.
Then a trumpet (actually a kazoo) sounded, announcing the start of the show. I heard a noise and turned around- there was Diego walking into the room, puppet proudly held in his hand. Not being one to normally quote commercials but…. Cost of ticket to Orlando $350, cost of lunch in hospital cafeteria $6.75, watching the smile spread over Diego’s face at the end of the show??? Priceless!!
Thank you Association of Hole in the Wall Camps for being the “Transformer” in so many lives.
I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...
Seeing the change in a child from just one program; the change in a family from one family weekend-helping me have a better relationship with my own kid, realizing the importance of listening, interacting & doing fun things with her.
What I've enjoyed the most about my experience with this nonprofit is...
Seeing the lasting impact it had on campers and on me- changing my outlook on life, helping me appreciate the small things in life, importance of supporting,not judging, my friends, family and co workers. Also going fishing, dancing, singing silly songs.
The kinds of staff and volunteers that I met were...
Positive, committed, energetic, caring, professional, dedicated, funny.
If this organization had 10 million bucks, it could...
Set up more camps and programs so that any kid with a serious illness anywhere in the world, could experience the amazing power of camp.
How frequently have you been involved with the organization?
About every month
When was your last experience with this nonprofit?
Volunteer & Volunteered at programs for children with serious illnesses including family weekends, hospital outreach and fundraising events.