CAMP University - Newsletter 18 - Issue XVIII

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C.A.M.P. University provides opportunities for special needs young adults to continue developing life and social skills after high school and provides a respite for their families. Cover Art by Matthew


Ford Sasser III Chairman

Fred Biel Tatiana Bravo Pace Erbstoesser Rick Guerra Steff Guerra Rick Hernandez Sonny Hildreth Bruce Kroeker Jason Leal Brian Lewis Mike Overly Abbie Sasser Ben Smith Celia Thrash STAFF Pam Voss Executive Director Tiffany Miller Director of Education Amanda L. Sasser Director of Marketing & Business Development Lyzeth Martinez Educational Coordinator Justin Cavazos Educational Staff Israel A. Alfaro Educational Staff Eliana Alcantar Educational Staff Carmen Lopez Custodial Manager Interns are comprised of UTRGV Rehabilitative Service students, STC Occupational Therapy Assistant students, parents, and members of the community.

CONTACT (956) 800-5292 (Office) Location 4200 N. Main, McAllen Mailing Address P.O. Box 2294, McAllen, TX 78502 We invite you to follow us on

Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest. We’re pleased to share our program and announcements with you between newsletters.


If you have a comment about any of the articles in this issue, we invite you to write the editor at


Who We Are Featured CAMPer – Omar

Omar graduated from Nikki Rowe High School in 2012, where he enjoyed swimming and art classes. Since then, he has been attending C.A.M.P. University. He loves entertaining friends with his renditions of various movie scenes and songs. He most often receives requests for his infamous performances of Maui’s “Your Welcome” from the movie Moana and Olaf ’s song “Summer” from Frozen. He also played the hyena, Banzai, in C.A.M.P. University’s production of The Lion King. Although he is an excellent bowler, he has been retired from the bowling competition at the Special Olympics for a few years now. He is always quick to welcome visitors with a handshake and a warm smile. He is known at CAMP as our Gentle Giant. When Omar is not at CAMP, he enjoys watching Disney movies and he helps his father work in the yard. He attends Maranatha Baptist Church with his family where he enjoys helping in AWANA during game time. We are delighted to have him as a CAMPer!

Featured Volunteer – Mary Busby

Our spotlight volunteer is Mary Busby. You may remember that Mary used to work for C.A.M.P. as the custodial manager. After a lengthy illness early last year, she decided that she would not be returning to C.A.M.P. in that capacity. She loved C.A.M.P. and the CAMPers and did not want to stay away completely, so she came back as a volunteer. Mary wanted to spend more time working directly with the CAMPers. Because she is bilingual, she can spend quality time with both the English speaking and the Spanish speaking. Mary has a way of befriending those CAMPers who are the hardest to reach. Mary is a woman of many talents. She sews, is crafty, has a green thumb and knows her way around the kitchen. For every holiday, and sometimes just because, Mary bakes cookies to share with all the staff and CAMPers. She is always creating different activities that are not only instructional but engaging as well. Mary is always ready to lend a hand wherever she is needed. CAMPers and staff alike love Mrs. Mary!

Welcome to the Family Eliana Alcantar – Educational Staff

Eliana is a UTRGV graduate who became involved with CAMP during her internship. After Graduation she was brought on as a staff member. “It was amazing to see the CAMPers grow every day, their personalities, and the joy and love they have for their friends and CAMP.” Eliana stood out amongst her peers during her internship. Her care and attention to the CAMPers’ individual needs made her invaluable. We were thrilled to offer her a place here at C.A.M.P. University. “I am grateful to be a part of such a passionate team and have the opportunity to see the CAMPers continue their growth.”

COVID19’S impact on C.A.M.P. University Dear Friends of C.A.M.P. University, I want to thank you for the way you have embraced our mission. We have come a long way in the last 14 years serving hundreds of families and making a difference in their lives, all because of you, our friends. This year’s annual gala, A Night at the Races, would have been our 10th gala. Much of our budget is based on the proceeds from the gala, so without it, we are not able to meet the needs of our families. Our mission is still the same, but we need your support now more than ever. As you may remember, we charge our families approximately 1/3 of what it costs to come to CAMP. Without their tuition for several months, we have even more of a deficit to raise. If you have been able to support us in the past, we are most grateful for your trust and confidence in our program. We need your help now and hope you will prayerfully consider sending a donation in the enclosed envelope. We know that now more than ever, you are called on to support many different charitable works, and we are deeply grateful for your consideration of this request. Ford Sasser Board Chairman Dear Friends, We are in a position we never expected, just like the rest of you. Our lives have changed so drastically. When we said goodbye on March 13th for Spring Break, we had no idea that our doors would remain closed until May 4th . The good news we want to share is that in the last year, CAMP University was able to pay off the loan we had on our new building and acreage, because of a very generous donation. I am sharing this so that you will take comfort in knowing we are stable and capable of surviving this pandemic with a little help from our friends. We are debt free. However, we do still need donors and friends to consider making donations to our mission. Our “new” building is 20 years old, and we have had some major expenses recently. We were able to apply for the PPP small business loan that included nonprofits. We are grateful for this as it has kept our staff from becoming unemployed. As we got ready to open again, our staff planned for every circumstance and pinpointed the new temporary rules that we would have to enforce. We scan foreheads of CAMPers, we maintain the 6 ft rule at all times, we disinfect surfaces throughout the day. Safety is always a top priority for our staff with the happiness of our CAMPers being a close second. We are happy to share a full list of new procedures on our website under the “News” tab on the page “C.A.M.P. University Health Update.” We continue to pray for all of our friends and look forward to a day when hugs and high-fives are normal again. Bless you for having a heart for C.A.M.P. University. Pam Voss Executive Director 3

Featured Artist

Artist: Matthew

Title: Joy Medium: Acrylic on Paper 4

News & Events CAMPers Strike a Pose on Picture Day


very year our CAMPers dress up to the nines and strut their stuff for the camera. They love picture day. “We really try to make them feel like models,” said Amanda Sasser as she put up one of the backdrops. “We primarily use the pictures for our gala, A Night at the Races, but we also like to share them with the CAMP families and use them when we feature CAMPers in our newsletter.” Each CAMPer works the camera in their own way. While some practice developing their facial muscles for their smile, others plan poses and props. Every individual personality gets a chance to shine, which is always a goal at CAMP.

CAMPers are Staying Active and Having a Blast As we age it’s easy to decide not to be as active. We don’t have the energy we did when we were children and we have to protect our bones that seem to pop a little more each year. Our CAMPers are no different. As our metabolism slows it becomes even more important that we keep our bodies moving. Every day at CAMP we start our mornings with stretching and exercise. We modify everything we do for CAMPers that are more fragile or have weight concerns so that they can be safe as they get moving. Some of their favorite things to do are dancing, rowing, exercise bikes, basketball, and volleyball. We also have a delegation that participates in Special Olympics. Every year our CAMPers train to compete in bocce, bowling, basketball, and track & field. In addition to keeping their bodies healthy they also get to practice good sportsmanship and teamwork at these events. We love that our CAMPers have a passion for life, and by taking care of their bodies, they are doing their best to make sure they’re living their best life.


News & Events #GivingTuesday2019 Update

We are so proud of our CAMPers for the work they did to help others this past Fall for Giving Tuesday. They collected pop tabs to support our local Ronald McDonald House and collected canned food for the RGV Food Bank. They also got to help package food for the beneficiaries of the food bank. They are such dedicated workers and so incredibly compassionate. We are also grateful to all of our supporters who helped raise money for our CAMPers, specifically for their elevator. Thanks to all the generous donations that have come in over the past two Giving Tuesdays and a gift from HEB, we now have the funds needed to purchase a commercial lift, which is not only a cost saving option but it allows us to keep a safe eye on anyone who is using it. All that’s left is the construction cost. We will continue searching for grants, but welcome any donations to finish off this project. We will keep you in the loop as this idea comes to fruition. Thank you to everyone who helped.

Our 4th Giving Tuesday will be December 1st, 2020.

Because we had to cancel our gala, A Night at the Races, we will be depending on the Giving Tuesday events to make up the difference in our budget. It will also be a wonderful time where we can give back to our community and spread kindness. We are in the planning phase right now, but are excited about the direction it is going. Please keep an eye out for the official invitation to participate.

Sharyland High School Volunteers Planned a Party

We love getting phone calls that start with, “We have a group of students that want to volunteer.” One of those calls came from Sharyland High School. A class wanted to come in and throw a party for our CAMPers, complete with games, face painting, dancing, and socializing. These experiences are not only beneficial to our CAMPers, but they also provide a way to educate future leaders about inclusion and compassion. It’s wonderful to see students being taught by CAMPers that everyone is special and we are all very similar regardless of how we might look, sound, or think. It was such a fun day and we commend the effort these students put into organizing this fabulous party.


News & Events $16,000 Grant Awarded To C.A.M.P. University On November 19, 2019 Rio Bank and The Federal Home Loan Bank of Dallas awarded a $16,000 grant to C.A.M.P. University. The Partnership Grant Program funds will help pay for a feasibility and planning study of providing group housing for special needs adults. Through the PGP program, FHLB Dallas member institutions contribute from $500 to $4000 to a communitybased organization and FHLB Dallas matches at a 3:1 ratio. Grants are awarded annually through FHLB Dallas’ member institutions via a lottery system. “Too often adults with special needs ‘age out’ of programs that could help them find their place in society” said Gregory Hettrick, director of Community Investment for FHLB Dallas. “But not in the Rio Grande Valley, thanks to C.A.M.P.

University and Rio Bank. It’s a true pleasure for us to join with Rio Bank to provide a total of $16,000 in grants to help this great organization plan its next chapter in helping special needs adults.”

RGVision Mixer Benefited CAMP We were honored this February when RGVision magazine called and said they wanted to host a mixer for us and our friend Laura Warren Ogletree, of the Warren Group Architects. The event was held at the Gremlin Beer Garden and Kitchen in downtown McAllen on February 19, 2020. Proceeds from the event benefited the programs at CAMP University. Additionally, Laura gifted us with a generous check to further support our mission. It was a lovely night and we are grateful for all the new friends we made at the event.

C.A.M.P. University Safety and Gardening Initiative

In February we were given the wonderful news that CAMP was awarded a grant from the Valley Baptist Legacy Foundation for $46,995. In September of 2018, CAMP learned that we would need to bring our building up to the Fire Code for the City of McAllen. We were given three years to raise the funds needed for a Fire Sprinkler System. We applied for $25,000 to go toward the Fire Sprinkler System, and $13,995 for salaries, and $8,000 for our garden. On Tuesday, March 10th, we received a visit from Bernadette Perez of the VBLF and she presented the check to C.A.M.P. University. We have been able to install our Greenhouse Shade Awning and it has already made a difference with our Valley heat. The aloe vera and other succulents are much happier, and so are the CAMPers! The remaining money will be spent on other items needed to continue the growing and harvesting of our succulents. We are so honored and grateful to have received this grant. We will now be able to comply with the city’s regulations, and we will have a much safer building, once it is completed. We will have these capital improvements that will add value to our property as well. Our deepest gratitude to VBLF for their believing in our mission. Thank you from everyone at C.A.M.P. University! 7

Why We Do What We Do Wish List

Do you have any of these things lying around collecting dust? We can use them and you get a tax deduction! If something stands out to you, please consider donating the item or the value with a note as to what wish you are fulfilling. • Gardening Supplies (assorted) – Any value • Pots for Plants (assorted) – Any value • Hand Sanitizer (at least 60% alcohol) – Any value • Headphones (for hearing sensitive CAMPers, like the ones used for hunting) – Any value • Folding Tables (8’ rectangle) – Valued between $80-$125 • Heavy Duty Clear Vinyl Table Covers – Valued at around $10 • Pottery Wheels – Valued at around $1000 • Clay – Valued at around $25 for 50 lbs • Pottery Glazes and Sealers – Valued at around $5-25 • Rhythm Instruments for Music Therapy – Any Value • Elmer’s Glue Sticks and Hot Glue Sticks– Valued under $5 but always needed • Canvas for Painting (9X12, 8x10, or assorted) – Valued at around $15 per pack • 9X12 Frames for Art – Any Value • First Aid Supplies – Any Value • Gift Cards for HEB, Staples, Office Depot, Office Max, Wal-Mart, Hobby Lobby or Michaels – Any Value • We welcome donations of tickets for plays, concerts and events – Any Value • We would be grateful for a variety of services including Printing, Framing, Photography and Videography – Any Value

Dear C.A.M.P. University “He’s my friend.” What joy we heard in our brother’s voice as he told a story about his new friend! While this simple statement may be common in most people’s life, it was new for our brother and thus, for us. The Most Heartbreaking comments families of special needs adults often hear from their loved ones is, “I want to have friends,” or, “Why don’t I have friends?” While services and activities were available through the school system for special needs children, there are few options for daily interaction and enrichment after high school for special needs adults. It is not unusual for friendship ties to be lost and social skills to decline. Loneliness often sets in. Before becoming a CAMPer, my brother spent his days in front of the TV, usually alone while we were at work. Many special needs adults need round-the-clock care givers, which is even more difficult and often even isolating for families. Typically, adult day care centers are not the answer and are generally not equipped to provide meaningful situations to this community of special needs adults. C.A.M.P. University has not only provided an opportunity for Richard to develop his social skills, but to continue learning life skills and basic life knowledge. It has given him a community and friends. It has given him an opportunity for fun and interesting learning experiences with these friends. The outings are fun, often educational, and give him experiences he would not otherwise have. The fabulous, dedicated and caring staff has created an incredible environment for these special adults to continue to thrive and have meaningful daily lives. CAMP has truly changed our entire family’s life! Thanks to the dedicated and caring staff at CAMP, Richard has regular activities that challenge and teach him life skills, reinforce social skills, provide ongoing learning, and expose him to new ideas about the world around him. We have noticed he is clearly happier, healthier, and excited about what is going on with his CAMP friends. C.A.M.P. University has brought joy, comfort, learning, purpose, and most importantly, friends, to my brother’s life for the last several years. It has truly been a lifesaver for us and there just really are not words to describe how grateful our entire family is to be part of this incredible organization. Thank you C.A.M.P. University! Melinda Bosquez

For a full List of needs please visit our website. 8

Highlights from CAMP


Contributions from November 1, 2019 - June 23, 2020 If you have received newsletters from us in the past you’ve seen these two pages, where we list our donors, get quite full. In fact, we have not had fewer than two pages of donors listed in the past eight years. We are so grateful for the donations that have been given but because we had to cancel our gala we are missing about 1/3 of our yearly budget. Although we have been blessed to recieve several grants earlier this year we feel it’s also important to clarify that those are restricted funds, meaning they must be used the exact way we proposed to use the funds in our grant application and they can not be used to fill in the deficit that was created by the covid crisis. We are eternally grateful for your support and prayers over the years and want to assure that CAMP will persevere and continue serving the precious members of our community for years to come. We welcome any gifts with prayerful consideration if you are able and if it is on your heart.

Premier Platinum


Mr. & Mrs. Bob Boggus Edinburg CDBG H.E.B. Tournament of Champions McAllen CDBG Rio Bank Valley Baptist Legacy Foundation

Mr. & Mrs. Cole Abbott Mr. & Mrs. Bill Dean Mr. & Mrs. Gary R. Hollowell Mr. & Mrs. Paul Koch Mr. & Mrs. Ernst Leiss, III Mr. & Mrs. David McDaniel Mr. & Mrs. Patrick Moore Mr. Eugene M. Peeples Mr. & Mrs. Trebes Sasser Jr. Mr. & Mrs. Ed Zinsmeister Mr. Leonard I Wilson, III

($10,000.00 and Up)


($5,000.00 to $9,999.00) Mrs. Trudie Abbott Mrs. Alma Guerrero Hidalgo County CDBG Order of the Alhambra Mosara Caravan 260 Mr. & Mrs. Trebes Sasser


($2,500.00 to $4,999.00)

Mr. & Mrs. Peter Desmond Mr. & Mrs. James Keller Whitener Family Foundation


($1,000.00 to $2,499.00)

Bert Whisenant Insurance Frost Mrs. Augusta Matthews Mrs. Laura Warren Ogletree Dr. & Mrs. James Person RVK, Inc. Mrs. Kandy Reed Seven Cities Foundation Super Starr International, LLC Texas Farm Credit Texas Regional Bank Trinity Baptist Church The Warren Group Architects Inc. Wells Fargo Bank

($500.00 to $999.00)


($499.00 and Under) Mr. & Mrs. Joe Brown Mrs. Patty Abbott Compton Mr. & Mrs. Tim Crowley Mr. & Mrs. Jon Gillespie Mr. & Mrs. Jim Goudge Mr. Steven Griffin Mr. & Mrs. Robert Hausser Jr. Mr. James Houghtaling Jr. Mr. & Mrs. Trey Hutton Mr. Don King Mr. & Mrs. Jason Leal Leo’s Drive In Mr. & Mrs. Cullen Looney Mr. Tom Mecredy Mrs. Barbara E. Northcutt Mrs. Connie Fielder-Norton Dr. Shirley Reed Rafael Rego, Jr. Adan Salazar Mrs. Peggy Yancy Mr. Michael Rabinowitz Walsh, McGurk, Cordova & Nixon, PLLC Mr. Will Wilson

In Tribute

In Honor of Carolyn Gibson Given By Mr. & Mrs. Anthony Micheletti In Honor of Emily Sasser Given By Mr. & Mrs. Stephen Hausser In Memory of Dorinda Van Burkleo

Given By Mrs. Pamela Voss Mrs. Benette Satterwhite Mr. & Mrs. John & Anna Dean Mrs. Mary Cable Mrs. Melissa Holland Mr. & Mrs. Rick & Susan Myerscough M & M Richard & Karen Berns In Memory of Jean Williams Given By Mr. & Mrs. James Keller In Honor of Jesse Babcock Given By Mr. & Mrs. Stan Gorsh

In Memory of Ladenia Hooker Given By Christine Hawthorne In Honor of Laura Mesquita Given By Teri Mesquita In Honor of Pam Abbott Voss Given By Mr. & Mrs. John & Anna Dean In Honor of Richard Dondlinger Given By JoAnn Gibson Mr. & Mrs. Elliott Bottom In Memory of Robby Gallaga Given By Loretta Gallaga In Honor of Sally Bowers Given By Shannon Drohan In Honor of the Sasser Family Given By Mr. & Mrs. Alan R. Baronoskie In Memory of Col. Norris Miller Overly

Given By Edwards Abstract


Mr. & Mrs. Chris & Pamela Voss Dr. & Mrs. David Heflin


Ag Pro Bebe Bou Cheddar’s Chili’s Cinemark Tinseltown Colletti’s Italian Restaurant & Event Venue Costa Messa Restaurant de Sanchez Day Spa & Salon Fiesta Cleaners Game Stop Glick Twins Ms. Steff Guerra Mr. & Mrs. Chris Hoffman Jason’s Deli North Jessica Monroe Art Le Peep Mama Mia Pizzeria McAllen Country Club NJ Jewelers New York Deli North 10th St. Animal Hospital Optical Illusion Paesanos Restaurant Group Mr. & Mrs. Campbell Patton Peter Piper Pizza Pablo Tagle, Jr. DDS, Inc. Dr. Pablo Tagle III Mrs. Kandy Reed Miss Amanda L Sasser Mr. & Mrs. Tim Sers Shut Your Door Skinn Bar Suppressed Tactical Solutions Sweet & Tasty Sweet Temptations Restaurant Target Target Nolana Yucca Street Investments

Thank you for your support! The C.A.M.P. University Visionary Circle is a meaningful way for us to say “Thank You” to friends of our mission who have named C.A.M.P. University as a beneficiary in their will, trust, life insurance policy, retirement plan or other planned gift arrangement. Through their visionary commitment, these individuals are helping ensure the continuance of our mission. To the current members of the Visionary Circle we say “Thank You” for your generosity to bless the members of C.A.M.P. University both now and in the years to come. If you have included C.A.M.P. University in your estate plans and would like to become a member of this program, please contact Regan Loughry, Director of Marketing and Business Development (956)800-5292 or We want to thank you in advance for your visionary gift. C.A.M.P. University provides opportunities for continued life and social skills training for Special education young adults today, and with your help, for years to come. Please consider making C.A.M.P. University a part of your estate plans to ensure current and future students will always have a place where they can benefit from the essential services C.A.M.P. University provides. It’s very easy! If you’re including us in your will or trust, simply have your lawyer or financial advisor insert the following: “I give and devise to C.A.M.P. University, 4200 N. Main, McAllen TX 78504, EIN# 26-0811975 $ _______ (or _ percent) of the rest, residue and remainder of my estate, both real and personal, to be held, administered, and used by the Board of Trustees for the unrestricted support of C.A.M.P. University.” You can also include C.A.M.P. University as a beneficiary for your life insurance or other investment instruments.

Thank You!


P.O. Box 2294 McAllen, TX 78502

C.A.M.P. University is a day program that is offered to High School Graduates with intellectual delays. C.A.M.P. stands for Can Achieve Maximum Potential and is based on the belief that special education graduates can and should continue staying active socially, mentally, and physically in order to reach their own maximum potential. Although not an actual University, C.A.M.P. does provide ways for members to challenge themselves and explore interests.

Thank you for your interest and ongoing support in this truly wonderful organization.


Mark Your Calendar for our 4th year participating in

Giving Tuesday on Tuesday, December 1st, 2020.

And consider participating in some of our mini events in November as we help spread kindness and generosity in our community. More information soon to come.

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