God has blessed me to be the shepherd of some of His hurting children who have survived life-altering burn injuries. He’s allowed me to become the Executive Director of the Connecticut Burns Care Foundation. We put on a Children’s Burn Camp every summer: about half of our campers have minor burns, but the other half have very serious burns over parts or all of their body.
Our week-long camp in July is free to any child who has suffered a burn. The camp allows these burn survivors to have fun and just be kids. It’s a beautiful location on 176 acres with our own pond for swimming and boating. They enjoy hiking, fishing, archery, and campfires. Our camp’s goal is to build self-esteem and confidence through physical and social activities so the kids can overcome their anxieties and help them move beyond their scarring and burn injuries. We hope the time at the camp gives these burn survivors a chance to experience something that is fun, empowering, energizing and full of self-discovery. We want to provide them with memories that will sustain and inspire them.
We don’t turn any child away and we average about 70 kids each year. We’ve had burn survivors come from several countries including Russia, Jamaica, Peru, Croatia, and Vietnam. Our foundation pays for their lodging, meals, arts & crafts and all the activities for every camper.
Each one of our counselors donates their time. They are either active or retired firefighters, medical personnel trained in treating burns, burn survivors themselves, or just caring individuals. Almost every one of our volunteers has been serving for 15+ years at the camp.
Our camp is nondenominational, but my Christian beliefs led me to this position and truly influence how I handle myself in contributing to this organization.
I can see how the Lord has guided my life and given me all my experiences that come into play in being part of this camp. I’m a former firefighter, EMS and 9/11 responder. The Lord protected me when I was fighting fires, and I’ve seen the horrific burns and scars of people I was trying to save. So, I understand what these kids have been through.
Every day, God shows me what the children need and what I need to be doing for these kids. My joy comes from God allowing me to do this for Him and to serve others.
I just get out of God’s way and let Him work. I don’t do anything here on my own; God does it. I use a bowling analogy: I set up the pins and God knocks them down. A lot of times, I may not know the answer to a certain situation, but I can feel the Holy Spirit guiding me and allowing me to take this camp where it needs to go.
God has gifted me with a wonderful voice. I’ve been blessed to have won the World Championships of Performing Arts. I use this gift God gave me and put on concerts throughout the Northeast and donate all the money to the Burn Camp. The money to pay for the campers comes from my concerts, in-kind gifts, grants, a raffle we have at Christmas and personal donations. We also put on some events throughout the year to raise money, like a Car Show, a Gala and a golf tournament.
I don’t question Jesus or ask “why” no matter what happens to me in my life or with this camp. I pray for wisdom and understanding and move on to do His will.
God has a story for all of us. But a lot of times, we want to hear our own drumbeat rather than listening closely for His. That’s why we need to be still and listen for His guidance. It comes if we just take that time to listen.