Mission: Founded in 1988 by Paul Newman, The Hole in the Wall Gang Camp is a community dedicated to providing “a different kind of healing” to seriously ill children and their families through a variety of year-round programs. The Camp delivers fun, friendship and a healthy dose of mischief through its signature summer program and weekend sessions at the Camp facility in Ashford, Conn. as well as outreach to hospitals, clinics and communities across the Northeast. All services are free of charge.
Results: We served 25,000 seriously ill children and their family members in 2013 and expect to increase that number to 30,000 in the coming years.
Target demographics: seriously ill children with cancer, sickle cell disease, HIV/AIDS, hemophilia and other blood disorders, metabolic disease and mitochondrial disease
Direct beneficiaries per year: 25,000 children and family members
Geographic areas served: northeastern United States and some groups from overseas
Programs: We offer year-round programs for seriously ill children and their families, including our signature summer camp program, weekend programs for campers, families, parents and caregivers.
My wife and I have been donors and counselors for about 15 years. We have seen first-hand the destruction that a child's life-threatening disease can cause to the child and his or her family.
The camp, which is free, doesn't cure the disease of course, but it does allow each child to just be a kid for a while without having to dwell too much on the illness itself, as well as to recognize that he or she is not alone. At the same time, it also provides a respite to the families who tend to spend a lot of time with their sick children - sometimes to the detriment of their healthy children or the parents' relationship.
My wife and I have met many remarkable people over the years - staff, other volunteers, parents and children, and have formed lasting friendships. In many respects, these people have become extended family. Paul Newman once told me that he got more out of the camp than he contributed. I agree with that sentiment. I can't think of another organization that is more worthy of a person's time and money.