Greater Waterbury Campership Fund Update: COVID survivors donate a thank you in honor of health workers

WATERBURY — With the months-long COVID-19 pandemic still surging, it was only a matter of time before it would become more closely intertwined with the Greater Waterbury Campership Fund than it already has.

Beyond significantly altering the scope of the 2020 summer camping season, the coronavirus also indirectly elicited a generous donation from a Watertown couple who were adversely affected by the illness and wanted to thank front-line hospital workers who cared for them.

James Maxwell, who retired in 1997 from the state after a career that included many successful teaching years at Mattatuck and then-Naugatuck Valley community colleges, and his wife Betsy, a longtime Watertown school teacher, both were diagnosed with COVID-19 on March 30.

“This was the beginning of a health care journey of a four-day hospitalization (at Waterbury Hospital) for Betsy and a five-week hospitalization for me,” James Maxwell said. “The Waterbury Hospital ICU health care providers kept me alive during 28 days on a respirator and five weeks hospitalization.”

He said he spent an additional five weeks at Riverside Health and Rehabilitation Center in East Hartford, where he was “brought back to functioning.”

“It was a long journey that I don’t want to repeat” he said.

The Maxwells last week made a contribution of $100 to the Campership Fund as a means of giving back and acknowledging the support and never-give-up attitude taken by the hospital personnel.

“We count our blessings for the skill and dedication of the health care workers in our crises and in caring for all those affected by this deadly virus,” the Maxwells said.
Donations have reached $206,703 for the 2020 Campership Fund campaign that moves into its final four weeks. The contributions easily covered the tuition costs of $38,646 for the 72 area youngsters who headed off to various camping facilities in the state. The campaign target goal for the year had been $165,000.

The Campership Fund, a 501(c) 3, is mandated to adhere to guidelines of no salaries for the all-volunteer board and no expenses, with every penny raised going to the cost of sending children to camp.

The Campership Fund accepts donations year round. Enthusiastic and generous individuals, large and small businesses, church groups and civic organizations, schools and philanthropic sources annually support the 51-year-old program.

In years past when there were no unprecedented health issues to deal with, special fundraising events and solicitations augment the financial resources of the Campership Fund. Program supporters are hopeful those will resume in 2021.

Families who receive SNAP benefits or meet federal poverty guidelines, and with children ages 5 to 18, living in Bethlehem, Cheshire, Middlebury, Prospect, Southbury, Thomaston, Waterbury, Watertown, Wolcott and Woodbury, are eligible to apply.
Donations may be sent to Greater Waterbury Campership Fund, 389 Meadow St., Waterbury, CT 06722.

Donations recently received for $175 included:

• Dr. and Mrs. James and Betsy Maxwell, Watertown, in honor of Waterbury Hospital COVID ICU health care providers, $100
• Mr. George Albino, Waterbury, in memory of my wife Elaine Albino, $75