The arrival of spring at Kanuga means more than pretty blooms. It also signals that it’s time to review applications for the Minkler Howell Endowment, a honored Kanuga tradition that focuses on assisting community-based programs created by parishes, dioceses, and nonprofits. Founded in 2000, the grant places a special emphasis on youth serving other youth.
Funding Hope for Special Needs Families
Last year’s recipients included St. Columba Episcopal Conference & Retreat Center. Based near Barlett, TN, the center hosts a regional Camp Able, a special camp organized nation-wide that caters to children and adults with disabilities.
The week-long camp serves approximately 30 children and has a firm philosophy that every child should be able to attend Camp Able. “Our core values are such that we will never turn down a child due to lack of finances,” says Brad Thompson, Executive Director. “Often families with special needs children have special financial concerns. Last year, over 85% attended camp on half or full scholarship.”
The Minkler Howell Endowment went towards funding camper scholarships, supporting the 35 trained volunteers who work and stay at the retreat center during camp, and funding transportation for field trips.
Changing the Definition of Outreach
The goal of Camp Able is to provide positive experiences for campers by focusing on what they can achieve. Last year, instead of allowing one camper who was afraid of water miss out on swimming, the staff spent an evening inflating and filling a mini pool.
“It’s all about meeting them where they are and ensuring they are not feeling their limits,” says Brad. “We’re a dignity driven camp.”
The philosophy of hands-on outreach has extended beyond the camp as well. “Camp Able has produced a cultural shift in our community,” says Brad. Other local churches have reached out to volunteer with the camp. Within the camp’s organization, the board and staff search with renewed purpose for ways to serve marginalized individuals in the community.
“More are beginning to recognize that outreach is truly about shaping the faces of the community,” says Brad. “True outreach is about responding to the community’s needs as they are and valuing what they require the most.”
Apply for 2017 Grants
Those looking to make a difference in their communities can still apply for the Minkler Howell Endowment Grant through April 14. Learn more about the application process.