Dear Friend of OpenDoors,

Summer camp-aign image

How can you make this summer better than any other?

Most children are very excited when school lets out for the long summer break.  Facebook is full of photos of families at the beach and on trips to historic places with education-rich visits to museums.  Many of us are looking forward to spending this time with family and friends…but that’s not the case for many local children.

Summer is hot, food is scarce, and although school days can be especially challenging for kids coming from Asheville’s poorest homes, school time gives them the security of two meals per-day in a safe and stimulating environment with friends.  Summer break can be stressful.

Last summer, Monique was playing with her younger brother on the sidewalk in front of her house when a fight broke out and shots were fired.  Police cars made their noisy arrival and one of her neighbors, a family friend, was roughly handcuffed and taken away.  Angry voices were raised and dinner was forgotten. Monique worries every day that bad things might happen to her older brother, a teen barely able to stay in school while trying to keep his job. After all, their father and her favorite uncle are both in prison.

Monique’s mother is worried too. She has been working more hours and she is often out of contact because she drives a bus and cannot use her phone while on the job. Even with help from others, she faces tough choices while earning far less than a living wage in a very expensive town. Can she keep the power on, gas in the car, and still put healthy food on the table? And Monique wants to go to Summer camp? No way.

You Invest in a Child

But, thanks to supporters like you, OpenDoors found out about Monique and her family. Volunteers networked on their behalf and learned about the many AMAZING camps in our region, many of which offer academic support for struggling learners as part of their summer program.  That makes a huge difference when kids return to school in the fall.

Monique and her mom chose from a list of approved camps and the camp agreed to match OpenDoors funding to send both Monique and her younger brother to a 4-week long sleep-away camp. That relieves their mom’s anxiety about food, supervision, and neighborhood safety while it gives Monique and her brother a summer filled with new friends and exciting experiences. They will learn to swim, go rafting, play games, create art, and be rested and well fed each and every day.

Opportunity Ends Poverty

Last summer, our camper Jamal said the month went by fast. Returning from his experience he appeared somehow quieter, calmer, wiser, and more mature. Not only had he slept in a tent, but he had learned how to build his own improvised shelter. He sat around the campfire, and then practiced starting a fire without matches. He made new friends in unexpected places and never once had to posture or argue to earn those friends. He tried healthy new foods and discovered peace in nature.

Jamal returned to his loving family and chaotic neighborhood and headed back to school. But, unlike many of his peers who live in multi-generational poverty, Jamal did not display any academic “backslide” from summer. Quite the opposite; he had grown – physically, academically, socially, and emotionally.

A Chance to Enrich Your Summer

All of our OpenDoors kids need to go to camp. They dream of making new friends and having fun, expanding their horizons.  OpenDoors has arranged for many of them to head off to day camps that offer cheerleading, basketball, soccer, farming and gardening, academics, and much more.

Our community partners have also offered full scholarships and greatly discounted pricing, so that your donated dollar goes more than twice as far to serve the maximum number of children.

Summer is here. No matter how you spend yours, won’t it be sweeter knowing that you swung the door of opportunity wide to change a child’s life – not just for this summer, but forever?

Please join us and make the “OpenDoors Summer Camp-aign” successful and your summer truly memorable on the deepest, most meaningful level!

With Much Hope and Gratitude,

Jen Ramming

OpenDoors of Asheville
Executive Director