It's too easy to see the failure all around us...like the organization that somehow lost $46 million that was supposed to help children in Guatemala or some pharmaceutical that was supposed to make you feel better but instead made you want to jump out a window.
So, I wanted to take a moment to discuss 3 winning places I discovered (or re-discovered) in 2013 that are doing most things right.
The first is Circle Camp at Fleur de Lis. Fleur de Lis Camp is an all-girls summer camp I attended for 8 summers (my cousins, aunt and grandmother also attended). The last week of the summer, the camp opens up to girls who have recently lost a parent. In August of 2013, I volunteered at the camp with these deserving girls and an incredible staff. You would have think the girls had won a visit to the Willie Wonka Chocolate Factory. They were so appreciative of the experience and of the friendships they made. There is something magical about Fleur de Lis. It's the one place on earth I know where friendship IS the point. The girls all arrived scared and withdrawn, but by the next morning where jumping around, sitting on each other and singing songs. I know..it sounds surreal. It was, it is...and we were all caught up in it. If you know a girl between 9-13 who recently lost a parent, please consider sending them to Fleur de Lis this summer.
The second place that works is Green Chimneys a school that supports NY State kids with emotional issues. The school is on a farm with amazing animals, including camels, llamas and all kinds of creatures. Working with the animals is part of the healing.
I had volunteered and lived at the farm as a volunteer back in the 1990s, returning this summer for the Farm Intern Reunion.
When I worked there, Green Chimneys would travel to New York City with a truck full of cows, pigs, miniature horses, rabbits and tame geese into Crown Heights, Harlem, and to teach city kids about animals. The famous moment was when Curly, the Scotch Highlander cow escaped at the World Trade Center, running free through the plaza until a former cattle wrangler threw his brief case to the ground and grabbed Curly by the horns. Amazing day!
Anyway, the farm looks amazing. They now how a swimming pool, climbing wall and their Birds of Prey rehabilitation center has expanded. The farm is open to the public and you can buy Maple Syrup made by the kids.
The school now has a psychiatric hospital on-site. And a staff to student ratio of 5:1. Samuel Ross, the founder, now in his 80s, still lives there and will tell you for hours about his big dreams.
The school is free for students in NY who the public schools decide they need special assistance (bipolar, schizophrenia, spectrum kids, etc).
If you're in Brewster, NY take your own kids for the day and just enjoy the farm. I love Green Chimneys.
Do you know any teenagers who need a little help feeling great about themselves?
Well, send them to the Global Youth Leadership Summit for 1 week this summer.
This picture is of two of the Youth Coaches I met working at a related event. They are amazing!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! They really are that happy. They and others help teens really break through to adulthood and appreciate the unique aspects of themselves.
They love it...they say it really helps them living according to what they want..not what peer pressure tells them to want. Listening to the other teens, I had no idea how much pressure they feel. I forgot...
So, that's all for now. I volunteer with these three organizations. Just promoting them because they are fantastic, contributing entities. And what's nicer than to take 30 minutes and sit here reflecting on what's so special about them?
Sarah Federman, PhD
Enjoy these short blogs and videos designed to bring you a little cheer.
My other blog Language of Conflict addresses the importance of word choice and narration in conflict.
Finish and Flourish supports writers struggling to complete projects.