Stories

Empowered

Vincent, 16 years old, Camp Moss Hollow Alumni

Vincent JohnsonVincent grew up in Prince George’s County raised by a single mother who loves him very much. So much, in fact, that she made sure he had access to that types of activities that would enrich his life and broaden his horizons.  Activities like swim lessons, karate lessons, culinary and sculpture classes. He joined the young Marines and started playing chess at the age of four. He took biology and piano classes over the weekend and became a champion roller skater.

But she was determined to give him even more. His father, who wasn’t a presence in his life, passed away when Vincent was twelve.  She wanted to make sure Vincent had what his father couldn’t give him – the attention and support of strong, positive male role models.  That’s why she sent him to Camp Moss Hollow one week out of every summer since the age of seven. There he met Butch Goodwin, Rodney Davis, and Mike Preston – three men whose guidance, attention and mentorship helped give him the confidence to pursue his dreams in life.

Those dreams include a college education and a career in computer engineering. This year he is one step closer to those dreams, having graduated from a Prince George’s County program that allowed him to basically combine a high school and community college associate’s degree.  His next step is Harvard or the University of Maryland on a full ride scholarship.

But no matter how far he goes in life, he will never stray too far from Camp Moss Hollow.

“There is no doubt in my mind that Vincent will be back at Camp Moss Hollow helping to mentor the next generation of young men,” notes his mother Maria. “He wants to pass on so much of what Camp Moss Hollow gave him – critical thinking skills, love for learning, joy of nature, and mostly having access to role models in his life that he can look up to and learn from.”

“Camp Moss Hollow helped my son grow from a 7-year old to the man he is today. And I will be forever grateful to the staff and coordinators of Camp Moss Hollow and Family Matters of Greater Washington for helping him on that journey.”


 

Enriched

Shorty, 74 years old, Ward 8 Senior Center client

© 2015 Kaz Sasahara. All rights reserved. More at www.kazpluszenphoto.com“I have fun working here – it’s like my family. Keeps me busy. I never miss a day. I was born and raised in Washington. I worked hard all my life and landed a job in the Federal government at NIH for the last five years of my career. I felt lucky to have a solid career to retire from. When I didn’t have to go to work every day, I quickly learned that I do not do well with idle hands and felt bored. I heard about Family Matter’s Ward 8 Senior Center from a neighbor five years back and decided to check it out. I started coming to the center all of the time. It helped fill my day, I am able to eat a free lunch, and take advantage of the day trips to stores like Roses and Giant. Sometimes we even take day trips to museums or other interesting sites.

After coming to the center regularly, I offered to help serve lunch. Now I serve every day and take it seriously. Like a job. It keeps me busy and I like to be useful.

A few years ago, I was diagnosed with prostate cancer. I told the social worked at Family Matters that I did not want to seek treatment. When it became more and more uncomfortable, I decided that I needed to do something about the pain. I didn’t know what to do, so I asked the social worker at Family Matters and she went above and beyond to help me find a doctor. She connected me with the home health company and they deliver my medications for free now. I can also call her when I need somebody to talk to or ask questions. She always answers her phone. It’s as if she never stops working. Even though she is busy, she makes me feel like she has the time to help me and does not make me feel like a burden. I never want to feel like a burden on anybody.

I would say that my life has been enriched by knowing about the center. Don’t know where I would be without it.”  


 

Elevated

Betty, 78 years old, Ward 8 Senior Center client

bettyBetty, 78, is a regular at Ward 8’s Deaf and Hard of Hearing Senior Resource and Wellness Center. She understands the importance of the center and what it provides, but more importantly cherishes the connections and the family she has cultivated in her time with Family Matters. Betty, pictured on the right, has a positive attitude and keeps a smile on her face even in hard times.

The night before her 78th birthday, her house caught on fire and not only took away her home, but everything she owned. While dealing with the repercussions of the fire, Betty admitted that all the while the thing that she missed most was her family at the center.

She currently lives with her daughter, one of five children, who took her in after the fire. She has her own room and feels right at home while she waits for her house to be rebuilt.

Betty has since returned to the senior center and talks enthusiastically about the wide variety of opportunities that the center offers. The program educates the seniors through programs, such as the health program where the seniors learn about healthy eating, chronic diseases and generally anything they need to know to be knowledgeable about their emotional and physical health, especially in times of hardship.

“By knowing that these opportunities exist, it enriches our lives.” She said. “I’ve experienced entertainment, enjoyment, laughter, going to museums, plays, picnics, shopping.”

She explained that Mr. Kojak’s weekly chair exercise class was one of many of the things she missed most while away because it was something that empowered her independence and strength.

“The Center provides us with opportunities to participate in activities outside of the actual center and allows for people to come in and make a change.” Betty said. “Our weekly exercise class with Mr. Kojak, for instance, is something that people need. It’s only a short time during the day and it’s something we can do on our own.”

With the fire pushing her out of her home, Betty has found comfort in her children and in her family at the center.

“Now more than ever, I cherish companionship, and the program provides that.”