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Linda Berlin's Fundraiser:

Camp Hometown Heroes for Children of Fallen U.S. Heroes - Take a Child Off the Waiting List!

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Linda Berlin

THE STORY:

HOMETOWN HEROES INC wrote -

Camp Hometown Heroes is a free annual week-long overnight summer camp for children and younger siblings of fallen U.S. service members who died in any manner – combat, accidents, suicide, illness or friendly fire. We have a fast-growing waiting list! Your funds will help us eliminate this waiting list!
These kids lost their parents for our freedom. Please join us in showing them the thanks of a grateful nation.

Since 9/11, nearly 5,000 U.S. children have lost a parent who served in the U.S. Military. For these children, this painful loss at a tender age can lead to depression, hardship, and lifelong sorrow.

Camp Hometown Heroes was launched in 2013 to provide children of the fallen with a community of support, and at long last, a path to healing.

Our nation must never forget the men and women who fought and died to preserve our way of life. The best way to remember these fallen heroes is by embracing the children they left behind.

Thanks to the generosity of thousands of fellow citizens, the life-changing Camp Hometown Heroes programs are provided free of charge. In honor of their permanent sacrifice for our nation, we invite you to join our “Healing Hearts” movement so we can help provide even more children of the fallen with a brighter future.


OUR GOAL:
While we are pleased that our camp has nearly doubled in size the past year, we also are saddened as we are denying enrollment to dozens of children who wish to attend. Simply put, Hometown Heroes needs to raise more funding so that these valuable healing programs can grow.

Camp Hometown Heroes must raise $1,500 for every child who wishes to attend. These funds are utilized to provide room and board, grief counseling, art therapy, supplies, air travel and other related camp expenses. Funds raised from this "Healing Hearts" campaign will be used to significantly increase the number of children and teenagers served at future camp sessions and other healing programs.


CAMP HOMETOWN HEROES
ABOUT THE CAMP:


The camp is operated by the Wisconsin based charity, Hometown Heroes.Collaborative partners include YMCA Camp Matawa in Campbellsport, Wisconsin (the camp host), and Kyle’s Korner which provides pediatric grief counselors and art therapy programming.

Camper referral partners include Being There-Reaching Out, several American Legion chapters and American Legion Auxiliaries, Hope for the Warriors, Got Your Back Network, and many other local and national organizations.

Camp Hometown Heroes Mission: Camp Hometown Heroes is a national free week-long overnight summer camp for children who’ve lost a parent, sibling or other loved one who served in the U.S. military and died in any manner: combat, accidents, illness or suicide. During their visit to camp, perhaps for the first time in their young lives, the children have the opportunity to openly discuss their feelings and experiences. Through the support of pediatric grief specialists, the children partake in art and music therapy programs and optional discussion groups.

The children are afforded the opportunity to enjoy typical summer camp activities such as swimming, dance, arts and crafts, archery, drama, canoeing, fishing, climbing and more. But more importantly, the children are given many opportunities to begin or continue the healing process.

Often the loss began before death when the service member was deployed. There can be years of missing that loved one and anticipating what might happen to them. When a death actually does occur, these children are put in a life category that not many understand. That’s where Camp Hometown Heroes comes in.

The short film, Healing Hearts, which recently premiered at the GI Film Festival beautifully illustrates the impact Camp Hometown Heroes makes for the children and teenagers and provides a snapshot into some of the issues they face each day.


Upon arrival, the children immediately realize they share a sad common bond. Yet, it is this common bond that allows us to create an atmosphere of understanding and acceptance. In working with pediatric grief specialists from Kyle’s Korner these children who have lost so much learn how to deal with the loss they have suffered. When someone says “I know how you feel”, it’s true.

We cannot begin to make up for what has been lost. We can only hope to honor the memories of those who gave their lives for our country. And we can strive to be sure that their children know both they and their loved one have not been forgotten.

Proposed: "Heroes at Sea" Cruise: In addition to our free summer camp for children of fallen U.S. service members, if sufficient funding is secured ($250,000), we will take at least 100 children of fallen U.S. heroes and their surviving parent on our “Heroes at Sea” Thanksgiving Week 2014 cruise out of Miami on a Norwegian Cruise Line ship. Our grief counselors will join us onboard for a week of friendship and healing. This "camp at sea" is another unique opportunity for Hometown Heroes to provide the children and their families with a path to healing. Special thanks to Norwegian Cruise Line for extending a very generous discount for Heroes at Sea.


WHY WE DO THIS:

Impact: The following is feedback from camp families we received after our debut camp session in 2013.

“Just wanted to let you know that after an hour of returning home my son received a message from one of the campers. He was so touched by that he actually sat down by me and cried, he cried for two hours which he has not been able to do since the death of his father. I have both the boys in counseling and have had them there for 4 years. This is the 1st time we have had any kind of breakthrough at all. He informed me that he finally cried at camp as well.

He believes that now he will be able to move forward as God intended! OMG, I cannot believe this is happening. What a miracle this camp has been. Thank you and those wonderful camp counselors for opening my baby's eyes to a much better world. I am so looking forward to our future. Again, thank you and God Bless, PN”

“Just picked up the girls from the airport! They have not stopped talking about camp! I am so excited to hear all about it and sit here in tears because right now they are truly happy children. They are even fighting about letting each other talk. I cannot thank you and everyone who was there this week for giving my girls this gift. My once quiet and reserved teenager is beaming with this happiness that I have not seen in years. You have restored her happy spirit.

She’s made lifetime friends and memories she says she will never forget. My little one is telling me all about her activities and the wonderful people (Naima and Chellsie) she had the opportunity to meet. She loved choir! We are so truly grateful for this experience and I cannot thank you enough.”


FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS:

Q: How much does it cost to attend camp?
A: Through the generosity of contributors throughout the U.S., Camp Hometown Heroes is provided entirely free of charge to every child. Our charity, Hometown Heroes, must raise $1,500 per child for each session of camp.

Q: How does Camp Hometown Heroes help the children heal?
A: The loss of a parent or sibling at such a tender age can cause a host of serious issues including depression, profound grief and even PTSD. Our pediatric grief specialists provide several opportunities for healing through art therapy, discussion groups, candle ceremonies and other avenues. For many of the children, Camp Hometown Heroes provides their first opportunity to be with other children and teenagers who truly understand. Through art & music therapy, the nurturing of dozens of volunteers and the understanding of peers who truly care, the Camp Hometown Heroes experience is one of great impact for the campers who attend.

Q: Where do the campers live?
A: Given the unique nature of our camp, our campers come from throughout the United States including several who travel to our Wisconsin camp all the way from Hawaii.

Q: How much of my donation is spent on administrative costs?
A: A manufacturing company in Wisconsin provides Hometown Heroes with free office space, secretarial support, copy machine/fax/computer/printer access, and administrative support. As a result, the administrative expenses for our charity are very low. More than 90% of each contribution is allocated for program services. We also welcome the support of hundreds of volunteers which is another factor in keeping our expenses low.

Q: Do you have a waiting list?
A: Currently, the camp does have a waiting list. The success of this campaign will allow us to eliminate our current waiting list and add even more children and teenagers in the future. Those interested in registering their child for camp can contact us at info@hometownheroes.org

Q: Why should I contribute to Camp Hometown Heroes?
A: We recognize there are countless worthy causes that would appreciate your support. We humbly request your generous support as we believe strongly that children of fallen U.S. service members truly deserve opportunities for hope, healing and friendship. Camp Hometown Heroes makes a profound impact on the lives of these children and teenagers. We take our stewardship of your hard earned funds very seriously and we feel privileged to utilize your donations to greatly improve the lives of children who made the ultimate sacrifice for our nation: the permanent loss of a parent, sibling or other loved one. We thank you for your consideration.


THE LEADERSHIP TEAM:
Jim Kacmarcik, Co-Founder of Camp Hometown Heroes


Jim Kacmarcik is the President of Kapco, Inc. a national metal fabricating and stamping company based in Grafton, Wis., and the Founder of the charity, Hometown Heroes – the organizer of Camp Hometown Heroes.

Jim understands that there is no single greater reward than giving back to the community, which is why the company has been known for its philanthropic efforts and charitable events, donations, volunteering and rewarding quality employees for many years. Jim has a deep belief in “making people our priority” and in “paying it forward.” With those themes in mind, Jim is a visionary community leader who has founded a number of non-profit organizations and endeavors. For his work with the Hometown Heroes charity, Jim has been profiled in an hour long special on Dateline NBC with host Ann Curry.

In all of his leadership and endeavors, Jim has a strong commitment to excellence.


Neil Willenson, Co-Founder of Camp Hometown Heroes

Neil Willenson is a national non-profit leader, public speaker, actor, entertainment industry executive and author. Most notably, Willenson is the Founder of One Heartland (formerly Camp Heartland), a U.S. non-profit organization that greatly improves the lives of children, youth and families who experience HIV/AIDS and other significant life challenges worldwide and more recently, the co-Founder of Camp Hometown Heroes for children of fallen U.S. service members.

Willenson has been featured by the Oprah Winfrey Show, Extreme Makeover Home Edition, and Dateline NBC. Willenson and the camps he has founded have been profiled in a CBS Movie of the Week, in the Disney Channel film “Friends for Life,” on Today, Good Morning America, and countless television talk shows. In December 2008, Willenson was named one of GQ Magazine’s “Men of the Year.”


Deb Paschke, Executive Director of Hometown Heroes

Hometown Heroes Executive Director Deb Paschke has a deep passion for families of fallen U.S. service members.

She brings extensive volunteering/non-profit/fundraising experience, having served on the Board of Directors of Women for MACC (Midwest Athletes Against Childhood Cancer) and working with the MACC Fund, Marquette University High School, Stars and Stripes Honor Flight and multiple educational entities. She has a varied broadcasting and public relations background in multiple markets.

"I cannot think of a more rewarding way to spend my life. I don't think of it as a job-it's not work. It's the most fulfilling thing I can imagine."

Camp Hometown Heroes is privileged to welcome the support of over 100 volunteers from many different backgrounds. Each has a passion for making life better for children of fallen U.S. service members. We thank our volunteers for sharing their time, talent and hearts with children who truly benefit from their kindness.

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HOMETOWN HEROES INC

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