What started as a phone call to let potential campers in the Catholic School System in Charlotte know about Chameleon’s Journey has turned into a whole lot more as school counselors and students alike have joined the mission to offer help, hope and healing to those ages 7-17 who have lost a loved one.
The phone call came from Dan Morris, a VIA Health Partners medical social worker, who has been a longtime member of the Chameleon’s Journey Steering Committee. Dan volunteered to reach out to the Catholic School System, where his wife Sarah is employed as a first-grade teacher, to see if some new relationships for referrals and education about camp could be established. He quickly heard from guidance counselor Nancy Russo at Holy Trinity Middle School, asking if he could meet with her and two guidance counselor colleagues to discuss CJ Camp and grief offerings that could be utilized by the school. The morning of the meeting, Dan was called away to an emergency with a patient, so CJ co-director Walt Windley met with the three counselors in their office. They were amazed at the intentionality behind camp, the myriad of grief services that VIA Health Partners offers and the opportunity to develop a partnership. What they kept repeating was ‘how did we never know about this. Y'all are the best kept secret in town.’
Then came the students.
In the conversation, Nancy suggested that their Student Government Association may want to become a partner to raise funds on a dress-down day to support camp. Dress-down days mean that students are invited to pay a few dollars on a Friday in exchange for ditching the uniforms and wearing more comfortable clothing. In less than two days, the SGA agreed to take the project on with the goal of raising $1,500. As money started coming in that morning, Nancy provided frequent updates to Walt, demonstrating that students were fully behind this cause and giving above and beyond what was requested. At the end of the day, the Holy Trinity SGA had raised $2,962 for the 2023 Chameleon’s Journey, which will be held October 14-15 at Camp Thunderbird in Lake Wylie, SC.
This partnership is just the beginning as a meeting at Charlotte Catholic High School has already taken place and others from the varied schools are eager to jump in and help.
As for the SGA at Holy Trinity, they would like to continue this new tradition of supporting Chameleon’s Journey each September and are encouraging other schools to follow their example. VIA Health Partners is excited about what these young people are doing and looks forward to providing what can be done for grieving children and their families in the days and years to come.
Now is the time to get registered, so don’t wait. Make your plans to be a part of this significant event by requesting an application TODAY!