Monday, July 29, 2013

HAITI :: Making wishes at Camp Jake

Counselors preparing the hand-made Chinese sky lanterns (photo credit: Brian Clark)
Young Frenel and Michel pushing their wish skyward (photo credit: Brian Clark)

Following the traditional "end of camp dance" on the final evening of Camp Jake, counselors made their way to the beach, each carrying a biodegradable sky lantern to be released at sundown. All counselors prepared a wish for their group of kids that would be shared as the lanterns were lit and released over the ocean.

The onset of rain and the delicacy of the tissue paper may have hurried the process along, but the weather couldn't change the heartfelt wishes each counselor attached to their lantern. It was a memorable finale to the third successful camp, one that was shared by all campers, counselors, Kaliko staff members and other resort guests. 

"I wished for a productive and happy life for my kids 
and for more acceptance of them in Haiti." 
~ Shawn 

"I wished for the campers' safety, happiness and health." 
~ Kathy, The Red Thread Promise President 

"I wished for the kids to never give up hope; 
for them to find their purpose in life and make a difference in the world; 
and finally, for each to know and believe how much they matter."
~ Tina 

Camp Jake Director Tom propelling a lantern into the sky (photo credit: Brian Clark)

Saturday, July 27, 2013

HAITI :: Fingerprints of God

Counselors Tina and Jonas working with camper Jonas in the pool (photo credit: Brian Clark)

Much like those who worked in the spa, counselor and massage therapist, Tina, worked tirelessly to give her gift of healing touch to every camper throughout the week. Bringing 25 years of experience in massage therapy and a heart the size of her home state Texas, Tina is one of the therapists for Jake Richard, namesake for the camp. After working with him for the past 3 years and watching the camp materialize, she knew she had to be a part of the experience. And a huge part she was.

Massaging Marie Line (photo credit: Brian Clark)
Throughout the week, Tina "massage-napped" campers in between activities for a one-on-one session. With each camper, she modified her technique, accommodating each individual's needs. For some, the massage table in the spa was the ideal place; for others, it was the pool where a different angle was needed to work atrophied muscles. 

Tina's philosophy is simple, but profound: "I work on the bodies God gave us. Each is a masterpiece and I can see His fingerprints on them. Every body is beautiful." We couldn't agree more.
Tina working on Maille's back (photo credit: Brian Clark)

Interested in serving as as a counselor for Camp Jake 2014? 
Please fill out the volunteer interest form on our website and we'll get back 
to you! We're already looking for people for next year's camp.

Friday, July 26, 2013

HAITI :: Haitian All-Americans

Remy, our newest Haitian baseball fanatic! (photo credit: Brian Clark)

Remy practicing (photo credit: Brian Clark)

The All-American sport of baseball was introduced to campers this summer. Thanks to our partnership with Physicians For Peace and the generous support of the Major League Baseball Players Trust, we were able to bring baseball caps, bats, balls and gloves to Camp Jake. 

Kids learned the basics and even played modified games on the beach. Seat cushions served as bases in the sand along the beach. Teams were created and the fun began, offering lessons in teamwork, following directions and, of course, exercise. 

Campers of all abilities participated, some ditching their crutches—like Remy—because they could hop faster from base-to-base. We continue to be amazed and inspired by the ability of these campers and relish the opportunity to provide new experiences to them at each camp session.

Interested in serving as as a counselor for Camp Jake 2014? 
Please fill out the volunteer interest form on our website and we'll get back 
to you! We're already looking for people for next year's camp.

CAMP JAKE: In the news

Strong partnerships between US NGOs helps expand summer camp for children with disabilities in Haiti

Three-year partnership between The Red Thread Promise and Physicians for Peace brings more kids to camp
Camp Director, Tom, brandishing the donation from Physicians for Peace with campers

Havertown, PA – July 2, 2013 – Thanks to the collaborative efforts of a dedicated group of nonprofits, dozens of Haitian children with disabilities will gather outside Port-au-Prince again this July for an unparalleled summer camp experience. Camp Jake (a program of The Red Thread Promise) removes physical and emotional barriers, engaging campers in activities that promote health, healing and exploration in a fun nurturing environment. Thanks to The Red Thread’s long-term partnership with Physicians for Peace and a grant from the Major League Baseball Players Trust, we are able to expand the camp, bringing hope and healing to more students from St. Vincent’s Center for Handicapped Children.

Together with the Players Trust, Physicians for Peace recently awarded $22,000 to The Red Thread Promise to support Camp Jake. The 40 plus campers expected to attend camp July 12-19 call St. Vincent's Center for Handicapped Children home in Port-au-Prince. 

"The concept for Camp Jake was inspired by my 16-year-old nephew, Jacob Richard, who suffers from Duchenne muscular dystrophy, a degenerative terminal illness,” said Tom Landry II, camp director and Red Thread board member. “We believe every child deserves the most life has to offer, regardless of ability, class, race or circumstance. Camp Jake will assure that physical limitations are left behind and replaced with endless opportunities for emotional and physical development in a fun-filled atmosphere. 

During camp, blind, deaf and non-ambulatory children take part in creative arts, music, occupational and physical therapy, expand on personal hygiene, hone life-skills, and participate in career-building opportunities under the supervision of a team of volunteer counselors, artists, musicians, mentors and healthcare professionals. Most importantly, campers learn to love and accept themselves for who they are and experience that love and respect reciprocated by Camp Jake counselors. 

"Physicians for Peace is thrilled to work with our partners to ensure that these children receive the care and fun-filled experience they deserve and need to lead healthier, happier lives," said Brig. Gen. Ron Sconyers (USAF, Ret.). "Once again, Camp Jake will be a life-changing experience."

“The Players Trust and all Major Leaguers are honored to support the efforts of Physicians for Peace and Camp Jake in helping provide these special young children with an experience they’ll never forget,” said Melissa Persaud, director of the Players Trust.  “Major Leaguers, through the Players Trust, are passionate about helping people in time of need. The players realize that misfortune can befall anyone at any time and are determined to partner with like-minded charitable organizations that share their passion to help.”


The Red Thread Promise is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization dedicated to bringing hope and healing to needy and orphaned children in China, Haiti and the United States. Our diverse programs exist to improve the quality of life for children with disabilities so they can live independently with dignity, health and, most importantly, HOPE. For additional information about our work in Haiti, please watch our video. Find The Red Thread online, on Facebook, and Twitter: @trtpromise. 

Physicians for Peace is an international non-profit organization that mobilizes volunteer healthcare professionals to assist developing nations with unmet needs and scarce resources. Through effective, hands-on medical education and training, clinical care and donated medical supplies, Physicians for Peace develops long-term, sustainable, replicable and evidence-based programs to help partner nations build medical capability and capacity to help themselves. For additional information about Physicians for Peace, please visit our website and follow us on Facebook. Follow us on Twitter, Physician4Peace.

Through the Players Trust, Major Leaguers contribute their time, money and celebrity to call attention to important causes affecting the needy and to help encourage others to get involved in their own communities. For additional information, please visit and visit the Players Trust channel on YouTube. Follow the Trust on Twitter: @MLBPlayersTrust.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

CAMP JAKE: Spa night

JoJo and Marie Carmel receiving facials at the camp spa (photo credit: Brian Clark)

Thank you Neill Corporation! (photo credit: Brian Clark)

Over the course of two and a half days, counselors DeeDee, Shawn, Audry, Emily, Ashly and Marigny operated the camp spa. Using Aveda massage oils and facial products generously donated by Neill Corporation, the six set out to accomplish their goal: bringing every single camper to a state of relaxation. 

Capitalizing on the trust being built from camp-to-camp, counselors convinced even the most reluctant camper to experience the healing touch of human hands in the spa. Campers who had refused in the past, agreed to participate. Campers who had previously agreed but refused to be taken out of their wheelchairs, allowed themselves to be placed on a bed for the full treatment. Self-conscious campers softened and finally embraced the experience, delving into relaxation that they had never dreamed possible.

The team made efforts to create a true spa atmosphere, complete with plants, soft lighting, candles, music and crisp white sheets. In some cases, silent tears were shed by counselors when they watched relaxation wash over the faces of the campers. Knowing that people with disabilities in Haiti are often overlooked, abused and ostracized for their differences, demonstrating to the campers that they are loved and valued in whatever form they are is a key tenet of Camp Jake - a tenet that we are very proud of and will continue to embrace for camps to come.
Marigny giving a facial to a camper (photo credit: Brian Clark)

Interested in serving as as a counselor for Camp Jake 2014? 
Please fill out the volunteer interest form on our website and we'll get back 
to you! We're already looking for people for next year's camp.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

CAMP JAKE: Arts & crafts

Multi-talented Dieumene beginning her masterpiece (photo credit: Brian Clark) 
Clauricianne deep in concentration (photo credit: Brian Clark)

A favored activity at each camp are the various art projects. Each is selected so campers experience something new. In this case, painting on the curved surface of wooden eggs offered both a challenge and a creative outlet. 

Interested in serving as as a counselor for Camp Jake 2014? 
Please fill out the volunteer interest form on our website and we'll get back 
to you! We're already looking for people for next year's camp.

CAMP JAKE: Christmas in July

Robin, Alen (Kaliko staff member) and Jonas ready to begin the 
Christmas in July celebration! (photo credit: Brian Clark)
One of the cultural exchanges enjoyed by campers this year was a Haitian version of Christmas in July. Borrowing heavily from a 50+ year old tradition in Quebec, Canada, our campers got in on the fun! 

Having first been celebrated in 1962 at the Domaine de Rouville, Noël du Campeur (Camper's Christmas) is now widely celebrated across the province on (or around) July 25 with colourful decorations, Santa Claus parades, presents under the tree, big family dinners and midnight mass. (

Moise and Tina dancing the night away (photo credit: Brian Clark)

(photo credit: Brian Clark)

Kaliko staff decorated a special area for us with the club's Christmas decorations. Campers made Christmas balls and garlands all morning while enjoying holiday music. Counselor Michel donned the Santa hat for the occasion and helped pass out gifts from counselors to campers. Toward the end of the evening, cake was devoured, dancing ensued and the movie Elf was enjoyed!

It was truly a July that campers will never forget.

(photo credit: Brian Clark)
Interested in serving as as a counselor for Camp Jake 2014? 
Please fill out the volunteer interest form on our website and we'll get back 
to you! We're already looking for people for next year's camp.

Friday, July 19, 2013

CAMP JAKE: Painted glass

Samantha finishing the dimensional black outline of her glass project (photo credit: Brian Clark)
As has become a tradition at Camp Jake, campers work on beautiful expressive art pieces throughout the week. This week they worked on a painted glass project. Beginning with black dimensional paint, each person outlined a unique design on their glass. After the black dried, color was added to create a beautiful stained glass effect. The dimensional paint was helpful for the sight-impaired as they were able to feel the edges and apply their colors within the lines. These photos were taken during the first steps of the project. We look forward to sharing the final pieces with you!

JoJo, the patriarch of the St. Vincent's family (photo credit: Brian Clark)

Dieumene and Claricianne expressing themselves (photo credit: Brian Clark)

Thursday, July 18, 2013

CAMP JAKE: Sewing as stress relief

Clauricianne working on the pattern for her first darn doll (photo credit: Brian Clark)

Audrey teaching Clauricianne how to operate the sewing machine (photo credit: Brian Clark)

Yes, you read the heading correctly: 
Sewing is not only practical, 
but can be good for your health! 

When we decided to introduce sewing to the campers, we didn't know the full extent of the potential benefits for St. Vincent's students. Sewing is more than a life-skill; more than a marketable skill for future employment. It can also be a stress-reliever, lowering blood pressure an enhancing self-esteem as projects are completed.

A clinical study* commissioned by the Home Sewing Association (HSA) reveals that women who sew—both the pro and the novice—often experience a significant drop in heart rate, blood pressure, and perspiration rate (the 3 major measurements of stress) when compared to women who participate in other leisure-time activities. Studies have shown that engaging in an activity like sewing, which involves both muscles and mind, promotes relaxation and may be more beneficial than other forms of therapy.

(Photo credit: Brian Clark)

While some campers already knew how to sew by hand, using a sewing machine was a first time experience for most. They learned to cut out patterns, pin pieces into place, sew on the machine, turn items right side out, stuff (as needed), slip stitch the openings closed to complete "darn dolls", all skills that can be used on future projects.

*The study was conducted by New York psychologist and biofeedback expert, Robert H. Reiner, Ph.D.,  Department of Psychiatry at New York University Medical Center.

Interested in serving as as a counselor for Camp Jake 2014? 
Please fill out the volunteer interest form on our website and we'll get back 
to you! We're already looking for people for next year's camp.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013


Campers learning the many benefits of yoga (photo credit: Brian Clark)

This week campers have been introduced to yoga, stretching and toning. Yoga can be beneficial for individuals with disabilities or chronic health conditions through both the physical postures and breathwork. Each pose can be modified or adapted to meet the needs of the student. Yoga asanas can be performed while seated in a chair or wheelchair. It can improve flexibility, strength, balance, and stamina. In addition, many people who practice yoga say that it reduces anxiety and stress, improves mental clarity, and even helps them sleep better. (Source: Disabled World)

(photo credit: Brian Clark)
Interested in serving as as a counselor for Camp Jake 2014? 
Please fill out the volunteer interest form on our website and we'll get back 
to you! We're already looking for people for next year's camp.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

CAMP JAKE: Continuing with physical therapy

During Camp Jake July 2012, with the support of Physicians for Peace therapist, Jake M, we began doing physical therapy with some of the campers. That therapy continues through Camp Jake 2013 with the help of our nurses, Ashly and Danielle. The pair took Marie Line and Christina into the pool for adpated therapy where they stretched and toned muscles while strengthening their cores.
Christina being helped into the pool for therapy (photo credit: Brian Clark)
Ashly working with Christina (photo credit: Brian Clark)

During an interview prior to camp, we asked each of our nurses to tell us a bit about themselves and what compelled them to volunteer. (Read about Danielle.)

Originally from New Orleans, Ashly is a recent graduate of nursing school and sister of Camp Jake Director, Tom. After speaking with her, it was evident that Tom's enthusiasm for camp had certainly rubbed off! Having heard the gritty details of the two previous camps first-hand, Ashly acknowledged that the workload would be huge but she was up for the challenge. "This certainly won't be a vacation, but I am really looking forward to doing things for others. Relationships built with the campers will be hard to break at the end of the week. I'm prepared for this to bring out raw emotions in all of us."

In a more formal statement, Ashly wrote "My underlying passion is caring for others. This passion fuels my search for volunteer opportunities where my compassion and skills can be used to their fullest. I was—and still am—inspired by The Red Thread Promise’s mission to provide for orphans and needy children and positively impact their young lives. As this is my first mission trip, I plan to learn more about Haiti's culture, population end environment to further my involvement in projects dedicated to improving living conditions. Finally, I hope that I will be empowered by the individuals I encounter, walking away with a humbling and satisfying experience that will change my outlook on life."  
Interested in serving as medical staff during Camp Jake 2014? 
Please fill out the volunteer interest form on our website and we'll get back to you! We're already looking for people for next year's camp.

Monday, July 15, 2013

CAMP JAKE: In the ocean

Good times with Tina and Elisme (photo credit: Brian Clark)
Ashly and Sandee (photo credit: Brian Clark)

Tom and Frenel (photo credit: Brian Clark)

Relaxation after a swim (photo credit Brian Clark)

CAMP JAKE: Medical care at camp

Ashly & Danielle treat Jean for an aggravated lesion received prior to camp 
(photo credit: Brian Clark)
Thanks to our long-term partnership with Physicians for Peace, campers receive medical care during their week with us. Physicians for Peace sponsored our two nurses, Danielle and Ashly, bringing round-the-clock expertise to our team.

We will be keeping our nurses busy! The pair will:
  • provide guidance to campers and caretakers alike on maintaining clean and healthy habits when caring for themselves or others
  • support the camp in any medical situation that may arise, including recommendations for followup care upon their return to St. Vincent's
  • record any medical concerns campers bring to Camp Jake, address them as possible during the week, and follow up with Fr. Sadoni for further treatment following camp
  • continue the physical therapy exercises taught by Jake during the July 2012 camp, encouraging similar practices
To avoid infection, Danielle applies anti-bacterial creme after swimming 
(photo credit: Brian Clark)
During an interview prior to Camp Jake 2013, we asked each of our nurses to tell us a bit about themselves and why they wanted to participate in camp. (Read about Danielle below and Ashly in our next post.)

Originally from Baton Rouge, Danielle is a recent graduate of nursing school. For her first mission trip, she brings her bubbly positive attitude, deep love of children, and passion for healthcare to the table. When asked how she felt about going to Haiti, we couldn't write fast enough! "Happy. Excited. Nervous. A touch scared. But mostly excited! I know that my perspective on life will be forever changed. I hope I can be a positive influence on the campers' lives."

In a more formal statement, Danielle wrote "I chose to be a part of Camp Jake for many reasons. I want to refine my vision of life, to broaden my thinking based on this experience, and consider new ways of doing things. By serving these children, I hope to learn and refine skills that can be used throughout my life and shared with others. But most importantly, the measure of success will be based on one thing: returning with knowledge that will help me impact the needs of my own community."
Ashly (left) and Danielle (right)
Interested in serving as medical staff during Camp Jake 2014? 
Please fill out the volunteer interest form on our website and we'll get back to you! We're already looking for people for next year's camp.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

CAMP JAKE: Arrival!

The arrival of the first bus and Christina making her grand entrance

Camp Jake 2013 has truly begun now that the campers have arrived! Two busses picked up kids from St. Vincent's on Saturday morning—one at 9:00 and one at 10:00am—to begin the bumpy trek to Kaliko Beach. 

Shawn greeting the ever-smiling Yolene
The first bus, toting the non-ambulatory kids, arrived before noon to cheerful greetings from counselors. As always, the enthusiasm was electric! Campers were very excited to reconnect with Tom, Shawn and DeeDee who they remembered well from previous camps. The new counselors received warm introductions, big hugs and eager smiles. About an hour later, the second bus arrived with all able-bodied campers and, once again, loud cheers resounded through the resort. (Author's note: Wonder what the other resort guests thought of our arrival!)

Maille and Solomon greeted by Shawn and Tom
Following cold drinks and receiving name bracelets, each camper was introduced to their counselor: the person who would provide a wake-up call in the morning, ensure that they made it to each activity and meal, and take them to their room every eveningThen it was off to lunch, the pool for an afternoon of swimming, dinner and a movie: Pirates of the Caribbean, of course!

Friday, July 12, 2013

CAMP JAKE: They finally made it!

Camp Jake counselors
(photo credit: Brian Clark)
If patience is a virtue, then our Camp Jake counselors are certainly full of virtue! After a substantial delay, countless hours at Miami Dade, and unexpected overnight in Florida, the gang arrived in Haiti yesterday afternoon, courtesy of 3 different flights. Today they traveled to the camp site at Kaliko Beach Club to complete the major prep work before the campers' arrival tomorrow. Looking forward to sharing the first pics of camp barring any internet challenges often faced on these trips. We will keep you posted!

Thursday, July 11, 2013

CAMP JAKE: An unexpected day in Miami

We're sure you've heard that old saying: when life gives you lemons, make lemonade. Well, that's exactly what the Camp Jake team did in Miami yesterday.

Tropical Storm Chantal (which has since been downgraded to a tropical wave) grounded all planes headed to the Caribbean, delaying the team's departure to Haiti. So it was lemonade time.

After waiting for all volunteers to converge in Miami from their respective flights originating in 7 US states plus Canada, they gathered mountains of luggage and headed to a local hotel. Several strategic groups were formed to accomplish anything they could while waiting for flights to resume.

Our fearless leaders Tom, DeeDee and Shawn revising & rescheduling everything 
(photo credit: Brian Clark)
Team heads worked on logistics for hours: rebooking flights, changing reservations at the camp resort, revising plans with our Haitian drivers and the like. Other groups accomplished smaller tasks like setting all of the campers' watches and working on pieces to an art project.

Audrey, Kirsten, Shawn and Andrew working on the art project
(photo credit: Brian Clark)
Thankfully, after a night's rest, the entire team was able to make it on 3 different flights to Haiti today. While the delay was out of our control, everyone made the best of it. 

Onward to Camp Jake!

Monday, July 8, 2013


We are closely monitoring TS Chantal. We are hopeful that its presence in the Caribbean does not affect our scheduled departure! We will keep all informed of our contingency plans.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

CAMP JAKE: Surprise Visit

Once again, Global Giving will be visiting a Red Thread project site – this time, it will be Camp Jake! Global Giving is an international crowd-funding on which TRTP has 5 active fundraising projects. The concept is simple: many people make small donations that, when combined, make a BIG impact. Due to TRTP’s SUPERSTAR status on Global Giving, we are subject to “surprise” visits from the group to ensure that we are doing what we say we are with your donations. We welcome this visit and look forward to meeting our friends from Global Giving!

Thursday, July 4, 2013

CAMP JAKE: No Gift Too Small

Camp Jake is only 7 days away!!! There is still time for YOU to make a difference in the campers’ lives. Funds are still needed to cover the cost of the camp. No gift is too small to make a positive impact. If you are interested in being a part of Camp Jake, donations can be made through our website or via check to: The Red Thread Promise, 249 N Belfield Ave, Havertown, PA 19083.

Monday, July 1, 2013

CAMP JAKE: Independence

One of the many goals of Camp Jake is to nurture independence and self-sufficiency in campers. This is accomplished in many ways, including introducing kids to prospective trades. This July we’ll begin teaching sewing on our new electric Singer sewing machines, a donation from St. John’s Episcopal Church (Norristown, PA). 

Campers will learn a variety of basic sewing skills through the first project, making “darn dolls”. We hope to expand this program over time to include garment making, alterations, tailoring, household upholstery and so much more. 

Who knows? Maybe St. Vincent’s students will eventually make school uniforms for the Center!