As Thanksgiving and the holiday season approaches, we are grateful for our amazing Elmwood community. This time of year calls on us to tune into all we are thankful for and to pay that gratitude forward.
At Elmwood, we are dedicated to creating a community rooted in kindness and generosity of spirit. “Be Kind” stands tall as #1 on our EWD 10 list of guiding principles. Elmwood has long instilled in our campers the importance of actively working to make our camp community a better place for everyone. As Fred Rogers said, “All of us, at some time or other, need help. Whether we’re giving or receiving help, each one of us has something valuable to bring to this world.” In the article, “Why Giving is Good for Your Health” the Cleveland Clinic identifies health benefits associated with giving including Lower blood pressure; Increased self-esteem; Less depression; Lower stress levels; Longer life; and Greater happiness and satisfaction. With that in mind, Elmwood has extended our understanding of what it means to be kind to the broader community.
Over the last two summers, Elmwood has concretized Service Learning into our camp programming by partnering with two amazing organizations, the Dobbs Ferry Food Pantry and Feeding Westchester. The Dobbs Ferry Food Pantry provides food assistance to our neighbors living in Dobbs Ferry, Ardsley, Irvington, and Greenburgh. They depend on donations to feed the over 100 families that rely on them every week. From meal programs, to partnering with local manufacturers and farmers, to their mobile food pantry, Feeding Westchester is committed to providing food to Westchester County residents to ensure they can thrive. 19% of children living in Westchester are food insecure, and Feeding Westchester partners with schools, libraries, and community organizations to distribute child friendly food kits, to avoid gaps in their daily meals.
Elmwood campers and staff participated in interactive group activities and discussions about the universal need for help, what it means to experience food insecurity and hunger, as well as beginning to understand the food justice movement. Our Elmwood families donated a van load full of food and diapers to the Dobbs Ferry pantry and our campers worked with their groups to create breakfast, lunch and dinner bags that were disseminated to school age children throughout Westchester County. As a community, our 558 lbs of food bags totaled 465 meals.
“Being Kind” will always be an integral part of Elmwood’s mission and we are excited to carve out a new role for Summer 2023, a Service Learning Coordinator, who will create and facilitate weekly activities rooted in service towards others. As Helen Keller said, “Alone we can do so little; Together we can do so much.”
We are so very grateful for the laughter, kindness, and love you all bring to our amazing community!