What the Mickey’s Kids Foundation brings to our summer camp communityApril 21, 2016
If you are a current parent at our brother-sister summer camp you received an email yesterday about a charity we are associated with called Mickey’s Kids. For almost 15 years it has been dedicated to providing camp scholarships to children from economically disadvantaged families. For those new to our community you may be unfamiliar with the great work charity does, and the lasting impact it has on the lives of the children it serves. You may also be unfamiliar with how this wonderful organization came into existence.
For most of the years that Phyllis Dank, co-director of Camp Evergreen, has been involved with K&E her husband Mickey was there, too. Quite simply, Mickey was everybody’s buddy. He was warm, kind, and always there for you in whatever capacity you needed. He also gave the best hugs that always made you feel better. After retiring he even became our transportation director and ably filled that role for many, many years. Sadly, Mickey passed away suddenly while on a golfing trip with a group of lifelong friends. He was far too young to be gone.
Leading up to his death, Mickey was working on a new idea that he was incredibly passion about. Having raised two of his own kids in our community, he marveled at how many deep, meaningful friendships each of them (and he and his wife Phyllis) had forged during their summers in NH. And during that time, because K&E had opened its doors to children from the inner cities of Boston and NY, he was grateful that both his son and daughter’s friends included kids from different racial, ethnic and economic backgrounds. Mickey knew that this diversity had given his kids a vital perspective that they would not have found in their lovely but fairly homogenous suburb. Recognizing how important this was to their social and emotional development, he decided to create a foundation that would ensure that this crucial aspect of the K&E community would live on for years to come.
Sadly, just as this beautiful idea was coming to fruition we lost Mickey. His many friends in our camp community pooled their resources to begin the charity’s endowment, and in his honor named it Mickey’s Kids. And for almost a generation since we have been blessed with getting to spend 7 weeks each summer — and become brothers and sisters — with our friends in the Mickey’s Kids program.
To this day Mickey’s Kids survives because of the generosity of our camp community. Annual events like a golf tournament in September – with campers, camp parents, alumni and Mickey’s friends playing — and a swim-a-thon with the campers and counselors at Camps Kenwood and Evergreen, have helped in a big way. In about two weeks we will post information on this blog about how friends and family can support campers and counselors who participate in this summer’s swim-a-thon.
Just last week, a group of Evergreen campers were hanging out together and found some money on the street. Rather than spending it on themselves at 16 Handles or Starbucks, they generously sent it to Mickey’s Kids. We want to send a major Acka-Lacka Ching in celebration of you guys! Every bit helps make the camp experience possible for our friends we meet through Mickey’s Kids.
Brooke, Abby, Molly, Emery, and Izzy generosly donating to Mickey’s Kids!
Recently, I had a camper approach me and ask if it would help if his bar mitzvah tzedaka project could involve raising money for this effort. I let him know that this was absolutely something that would be a big benefit, and that actually we have had a number of campers do something like this over the years. Learning to think about and help others is a major part of the K&E philosophy, and we love this idea! If anyone is interested in doing something like this for their bar or bat mitzvah tzedaka project you can email Mickey’s Kids directly by clicking on this link.
The Board of Mickey’s Kids just developed a new website and are in the process of creating new and exciting social events that will take place in both the Boston and NYC areas starting this fall. Some will be for alumni and current staff, while others will be for current campers and their families (and friends). All should be a ton of fun, and we cannot wait to announce details about them this coming summer on the Camp blog.
The next time you visit our brother-sister summer camp there is a beautiful wooden bench that looks out on our soccer field called the Hollow, and a beautiful Juniper tree we once planted in honor of Phyllis. On the back of the bench is a plaque dedicating it to our friend Mickey Dank. It also carries his life’s motto, and that of his charity: Love, Live, Laugh. These are good words to live by, and support.