Once a year we get together for an evening dinner that never disappoints. On Wednesday, members gathered, along with friends from SOS Villages and Camp Manitowish YMCA. We began the night speaking of purpose and the how camaraderie among outdoor enthusiasts in our industry is important and rewarding alike. Along our way, the JSS has embraced a charitable cause that has exceeded all expectations when we committed to sending kids to Camp Manitowish in 2011. At the dinner, Camp Manitowish representatives, Jeff Pereles, Development Director, and Ben Armstrong, Emeritus Board Member spoke of the impact the camp has had on the kids that have attended. They read youngster’s thank you notes and ‘letters from camp’, in which they reflected on the opportunity the camp and the experience the outdoors provided. Ben spoke of our co-founding member, Chris Bacigalupo, and why we dedicated this cause in his name. Amy Kazmarek spoke of the mission of SOS and how it is important to keep siblings together in foster family professional care.
Due to the generosity of many throughout the year, particularly on this evening, and the now close relationship between SOS and Camp Manitowish, sixteen foster children will be attending camp this summer! Of the sixteen campers, nine of the children are returning campers, which is unprecedented. We hope all sixteen campers will continue to develop their leadership skills and one day return to Manitowish as camp counselors. JSS is proud to have sent or facilitated thirty-seven foster children to this wonderful camp over the years. Additionally, 17 members children have also attended!
We would like to recognize all those that contributed through gift or participation on Wednesday evening. Between the silent auction, Weatherby raffle, and unique talent of our very own auctioneer, Dave Mayo, over $6,200 dollars were raised in Wednesday evening alone! This event, combined with our events through the year and major cash contributors, is an effort of which all members should be proud.
We also would like to note that we announced the new officers that had been elected by members. The new VP of Illinois is Perry DiGirolamo and the National Social Media Chairperson is Hayley Cameron. On Wednesday evening, we also addressed and expressed a new goal for the coming year: connectivity. We have truly fulfilled our role in the mission of JSS, but have not been successful in our connection to current and, importantly, new members. We are confident that the additional leaders and an invigorated membership will lead the Jefferson Sportsman Society to again break expectations.