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Thursday, July 10, 2014

Heroes of the Week: Camp Hometown Heroes Volunteers

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Camp Hometown Heroes (995 Badger Circle, Grafton), co-founded by Jim Kacmarcik and Neil Willenson in 2013 under the Wisconsin charity Hometown Heroes, is a week-long overnight summer camp held at the YMCA Camp Matawa (N885 Youth Camp Road, Campbellsport) for youth ages 7-17 that have lost a family service member from combat, an accident, suicide, illness or any manner of death. The camp program and any air travel is provided free of charge to each child. In June, Camp Hometown Heroes flew in close to 50 kids and hosted a total of 104 kids from 22 states.

The camp offers opportunities for friendship, fun, acceptance and personal growth in a welcoming and understanding environment. Partnering with Camp Hometown Heroes is Kyle’s Korner, a nonprofit that provides pediatric grief specialists who offer the youth art and music therapy projects to help them grow and heal. Campers also enjoy activities together like capture the flag, swimming, archery, choir, fishing, horseback riding, rock climbing and much more, all the while being supported by their fellow campmates, camp counselors and Kyle’s Korner experts.

“We need to remember these kids,” says Deb Paschke, executive director of Hometown Heroes and co-camp director of Camp Hometown Heroes. “The camp experience for these children is a very powerful thing and we give them a chance to share how they feel in their own time. We help them honor the memories of their loved ones and change their lives for the better. And if it wasn’t for our volunteers, we could not do it because they are the spirit behind the camp and they know what it does for the kids.”

Camp Hometown Heroes is currently running an Indiegogo fundraising campaign so they can serve more children. Volunteers are also needed year-round to help with fundraising and Hometown Heroes’ Grand Slam Charity Jam event. To donate, learn more about volunteer opportunities and gain additional information about the camp, visit www.hometownheroes.org. To learn more about registering your child for the camp, contact Paschke at 262-377-6500 ext. 843 or email Paschke@hometownheroes.org