On Tuesday, I went to my mail box (yes, we still do get mail through the USPS) to find a small stack of letters and solicitations. There were two credit card applications (immediately went to the “circular file”), a free “Federation” pen (you know, the one with our name and address on it with an offer for 500 more for the low price of $____), the community magazine from Jacksonville Jewish community and one letter addressed directly to me (you could tell it was not a form letter). I share that letter with you:
I am writing to express my deep appreciation for your Summer Camp program and staff, specifically DJ Horton and Jackie Laban.
My daughter is a delightful 6-year-old who also happens to have Down Syndrome. She had attended daycare, Pre-K, and summer camp with the same provider since she was 10 weeks old. This was the first year we were told by that provider that Emily would not be able to attend summer camp there.
After calling multiple summer camp providers, I became increasingly distraught as provider after provider told me that they could not accommodate her due to her needing assistance with toileting. Ms. Jackie was the first person who did not shut the door in our face. Ms. Jackie asked us to bring her by so we could take a tour and so that she could meet our daughter in person. Your staff was so wonderful when we went for our tour. We left with an overwhelming sense of relief that she would be in good hands for the summer, and an overwhelming feeling of being supported by a new community partner.
It's so important for families like ours to feel supported by their community, so my family thanks you. Our daughter is in her last week of summer camp this week and she has had an incredible time.
Thank you once again for providing an inclusive summer camp program.
By time I got to the end of the letter my eyes were misty and my chest was pumped up with pride for Jackie, DJ, Lynette, and Kristina who opened their hearts and minds to a family in need.
The JEA embraces and welcome the diversity of our community and encourage everyone to seek meaning and fulfillment by participating in our rich programming inspired by our Jewish heritage.
Whether at camp, early childhood education, afterschool, in the gyms, pools, and all of our programs, we open our doors to everyone, including people of all backgrounds, religions, abilities and sexual orientations, and interfaith couples and families.
We work to build community where everyone acknowledges and respects people’s differences, while celebrating each individual’s inherent uniqueness.
Inclusion permeates the Alliance.