Kids ’n Kamp
Beverly Circone is the first person people call when they have good news, and also the first person they call when they have bad news, say those who benefit from Kids ’n Kamp, the organization that she founded in 1982 to support the families of children with cancer.
For Beverly, circumstances conspired in a way that did not seem coincidental when she and her husband, Nick -- who was then recuperating from cancer he was not expected to survive -- watched the CBS show Sunday Morning, in which Charles Kuralt visited a camp for children with cancer. "Nick and I knew immediately this was what we wanted to do with the rest of our lives."
Twenty-six years after their first weekend summer camp, Nick is thriving -- and so is Kids ’n Kamp. With 200 volunteers (most are parents of sick children), it serves 370 families and has grown to include tutoring for children, quilting weekends for moms, respite weekends for parents, mom’s and dad’s dinners out, counseling, family activities, a partnership with a children’s hospital, scholarships, support for bereaved families, and financial help for families who are torn between paying for treatments or utility bills. "We are the first organization to focus on the families of children with cancer," Beverly says proudly, adding that siblings, particularly, need support because they can feel "lonely, afraid, neglected, and even guilty, because Mom and Dad must focus so intently on the patient-child." Brothers and sisters are welcome at family activities and at camp -- the one place, a child confided to Beverly, where they are treated as specially as their sick sibs.
These days the ever-practical, ever-compassionate Beverly is learning Spanish in order to reach out to Hispanic people in her community. But in any language, her most eloquent volunteers are former child cancer patients who are now grown up: All they have to say to families with a sick child is, "Here I am."