Pratt & Whitney employees dedicated a recent Wednesday to participate in a Helping Hands Workday program at the Hole in the Wall Gang Camp in Ashford, Conn., with the purpose of preparing camp grounds for the arrival of a special group of campers that Friday.
The Hole in the Wall Gang Camp offers seriously ill children the chance to experience all the wonders and enjoyment of camp, free of charge, while still receiving the medical attention they need, and this weekend-long respite was no different, except for one thing - parents and siblings were welcome to enjoy the two-and-a-half-day camp together as a family.
Twenty Pratt & Whitney employees gathered in the camp's dining hall on the chilly morning of Nov. 20 to meet Ray Shedd and receive their work assignments. Shedd, who is the director of corporate responsibility for the camp, explained that for many families, the weekend would be their first chance to share a common, joyful experience with their sick child and siblings, without the stress of worrying about medical care away from home. During lunch, Shedd gave the group a brief history of the facility, spoke of founder Paul Newman's tireless efforts to make the camp a reality, his hands-on involvement with the children, and explained how the camp is funded. Between royalties and profits of Newman's Own products, private donations and the generosity of groups and individuals, the camp is able to continue serving children free of charge, said Shedd. A $25,000 donation from Pratt & Whitney was used to underwrite the weekend event.
While leaf removal, wood splitting, bed making and general cleaning were the volunteer activities of the day, Pratt & Whitney's involvement with the Hole in the Wall Gang Camp extends to other programs, as well. Pratt & Whitney's Military Aircraft Division supports the Hole in the Wall Gang Camp through annual sponsorship of Space and Aviation Day, a community family day and static air show held at the Air National Guard Base at the Bradley International Airport. Each year, more than 3,000 people attend this free-of-charge static air show, receive free admission to the New England Air Museum and watch live demonstrations by the Connecticut Fire Academy. In addition, Pratt & Whitney plays a critical role in the sponsorship of fundraising events. Each year, Pratt & Whitney and UTC employees form corporate teams to participate in Team Hole in the Wall cycling events, as well.
The Hole in the Wall Gang Camp was the starting point for what is now a global family of camps. Between 1988 and 1997, camps in New York, Florida, Ireland and France were created. In 2001, Botswana, Namibia, Malawi, South Africa, Uganda, Lesotho and Vietnam joined the list through Global Partnership Initiatives in Africa and Asia. By 2007, California, North Carolina, England, Italy and Hungary had camps, and soon, children living with cancer, hemophilia, sickle cell anemia, HIV and other serious medical conditions will have a facility in Israel.
The Hole in the Wall Gang Camp has received national and international recognition for its work, including a Horse Farm of Environmental Distinction Award from the Connecticut Horse Environmental Awareness Program (HEAP), the Connecticut 2008 Psychologically Healthy Workplace Award for Not-for-profit Organizations from the American Psychological Association, and a UMass Memorial Children's Medical Center's Shining Star Award for "enriching the lives of our young patients and for brining joy and comfort to their siblings and parents." The Hole in the Wall Gang Camp was also cited as one of "10 Great Places to put the 'Giving' in Thanksgiving in USA Today, received the Distinguished Leadership Award from the Connecticut Architecture Foundation and a positive ranking in Contribute Magazine. The American Camping Association has re-accredited the camp with the highest possible score of 100, and in 2005 was cited as one of five "Best Charities for Kids" by Good Housekeeping Magazine. Other honors include the Dayton Hudson Foundation Masterworks Award, Eleanor Eells' Award from the American Camping Association, the American Institute of Architects Honor Award, inclusion on the "Angel's List" from the state of South Carolina, Office of the Secretary of State for our outstanding work in philanthropy; and a Humanitarian Award from CIGNA Foundation and Time/Warner.
For more information about the Hole in the Wall Gang Camp, as well as information about giving and volunteer opportunities, visit www.holeinthewallgang.org.