Welcome to Sunday Stories, our new series where we feature people in our community that we admire. September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, and we have partnered with Camp Ronald McDonald For Good Times to support their efforts to support the children and families that cancer has impacted. Our first installment features Fatima Djelmane Rodriguez, Executive Director, and Jasmin Joya, Family Relations and Recruitment Manager for Camp Ronald McDonald for Good Times.
Jasmin Joya, Family Relations & Recruitment Manager
Fatima Djelmane Rodriguez, Executive Director
Question: Covid-19 has obviously affected CAMP and the way it is typically run. How has it been shifting your mentality and creating a virtual experience for the kids?
Answer (Jasmin): It has been the most humbling experience. Our team has done such an incredible job with pivoting and creating such an innovative experience. We really wanted to bring Camp down the mountain and into their home because a summer without Camp was unacceptable. We filled boxes with materials, special items and incorporated over 70 activities via zoom from Cooking to Arts & Crafts and more! It’s such a treat to see our campers on the other side of the screen and feel as if we were at Camp. Though it was challenging, we knew we had to show up for them. Our Campers and families are the magic of Camp!
Answer (Fatima): When Covid-19 first hit, we were like most folks, totally shell shocked.What’s happening?How long is this going to last? Are we in a Sci-Fi movie? That lasted for a split second and we quickly sprang into action. We’re fortunate to have a team of devoted volunteers who come up for a full week of Camp summer after summer—fueled by their love for our campers.We quickly called on them to create video content—activities, games, camp songs, arts and crafts—that we then shared with our families so they could experience Camp at Home.We had more time to brainstorm how we could take connecting with our campers ages 9 to high school age up a notch for Summer Camp—that’s when the idea of Camp in a Box was born.We created 500 boxes filled with Camp swag, goodies, and supplies for campers to use for activities that we then provided online throughout the entire month of July. Thanks to nearly 100 volunteers, we hosted 45 live activities over zoom with 220 campers.It was a great success!Our campers said that though they missed being at Camp, Camp at Home was the next best thing, feeling the love of their counselors and fellow campers even through their computer screens.We be hosting our next round of Camp at Home (with Camp in a Box included) for Family Camp in both English and Spanish in October, serving children with cancer ages 0-8 and their families.
Q: What has been your favorite distraction or fun activity during quarantine?
A (Jasmin): Online shopping! Totally kidding….although I’m pretty sure the Amazon and UPS driver knows my house by now, ha! I would say cooking (thank you Joanna Gaines and Laura Vitale for your cookbooks), dancing it out with my two sisters, surprise Facetimes with friends, and playing guitar after many years.
A (Fatima): Cooking (I make a mean plate of Huevos Rancheros), working out, playing and dancing with my girls, watching cooking shows with my husband, going on walks/working out, and listening to music.
Q: What is your favorite fall must have item in your closet?
A (Jasmin): Hmmm…. in LA we don’t have intense fall weather, but I will use any reason to wear a good coat or blazer! I love them and I think can add to any outfit really.
A (Fatima): I’m such a blazer girl! I love a good blazer in the fall…it makes me feel super chic.
Q: What is the greatest piece of advice you have ever been given?
A (Jasmin): I would say being kind to yourself and trusting the process. I think it’s easy to stress over certain things and we forget to enjoy the moment. Everything will unfold the way it’s supposed to ☺
A (Fatima): That’s a hard one…cause I’ve been gifted with so many pearls of wisdom. I’d say one that is resonating with me most right now is to just be present and appreciate every moment because the present truly is a gift.