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  • Writer's pictureNeal Hagberg

Hope in the Messy Middle

TLC was put into a situation out of our control three months ago when COVID-19 hit, just as you were, and the entire world was.  All of TLC’s revenue as a not-for-profit comes in the eight weeks of summer camp that we are canceling for the safety of all, and we face uncertainty, just as you do, and the world does.

There has been sadness and, yes, some despair at times.  That is life.

But this is what happened.

One camper wrote us, knowing she had not registered for camp this summer because of health reasons, but also knowing how a not-for-profit works, and said, “I want to register for camp, knowing it is cancelled, and then have my canceled fee donated for TLC operations to get to next year.”

Ferrol Robinson, TLC adult camper for 30 years, who will miss this summer, but will be back for #31 next year!

Another has an adult son who does not have a checking account or credit card, but who received his $1200 stimulus check in the mail, and asked his mom to help him donate it to TLC with cash.

Another family wrote and said, we wish we could give more, but TLC has meant so much to our family, and gave $25.

Another placed a check for $10,000 under our doormat.

Another junior camper – who had paid for her own camp – said TLC was the most important place in her life.  She was so sad it was canceled, but was grateful. And she donated her entire camp to help us get to next year.

Then, all of our endowed scholarship donors agreed to repurpose their donations to operations for a year to help us through.

Another camper said, I cannot help financially, but I want people to know about TLC.  I will do what I can to tell others about camp so you come back strong next year.

Another, who wished our decision to cancel camps had been different, but still believed in what we are doing, donated $25,000 to help us get to next year.

And hundreds of you have reached out saying thank you that there is a TLC, and hang in there, and you will get through this.

Each one pulls us from the depths we sometimes sink, like many of you do, too, in this challenging time.

We will make it.  We have a ways to go to be able to cover our operations to next summer, but we will make it.

The common denominator I see in all of these is that TLC – and TLC is you – is a community committed to the greater good.  To reaching out and practicing kindness where there is often selfishness, generosity where there is a fear of scarcity; a community where looking out for “the other” is a thoughtful choice, not an obligation.  This is a whole other level of awareness of how interconnected we are.  It is not a monetary mindset, it is a human connectedness mindset.

It is why I will miss camps this summer.  Because you are TLC.

It is also why we will be back.

Has our sadness subsided over not having camps this summer?  Not yet.  Has yours?  Maybe not.

Will it?  Yes.

Will yours? Yes.

It is you all, the campers and our staff, that make TLC a community committed to the greater good.

Next year we will be looking back on what a strange time this was and how the sacrifices so many people made saved potentially millions of lives in this country.  And how people looked for ways to make others’ suffering less during this time.

But the middle is messy.  It is hard.  And it is sad at times.

So where do we get hope in the middle?

You already are answering that question, over and over.

We get hope from you.  Thank you.


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