Dowagiac church needs help funding retreat for Flint children

A Dowagiac church is leading an effort to bring children from Flint to Michiana for a summer retreat, but they need your help.

Down a quiet road near the edge of Cassopolis Village sits Camp Baber, a 57-acre property owned and operated by the Fourth District AME Church. It’s the hopeful setting for Camp Joy.

“We’re looking to raise over $50,000,” Reverend Jerri Porter said.

Porter is the pastor of Dowagiac’s Conner-Mayo AME Church and she’s leading the effort to bring 130 children from Flint to Camp Joy this summer for a week of retreat, reflection and education.

“For the week we have technology teachers coming in, we have principals coming in, we have fraternities volunteering and everyone we’ve asked said yes, I’ll come, whether it’s for the [entire] week or two days or one day,” Porter said.

The goal is to fill Camp Baber with dozens of volunteers who will provide dozens of children, who have been crippled by a water crisis, with a week-long experience ranging from education to outdoor activities.

“Their schooling and grades have been affected [by the water crisis],” Porter said. “We want to bring them up to a level or take them higher.”

The kids will also take part in activities like swimming, basketball and spending time at the nearby lake.

“We’d just like to give [the kids] the whole outdoor experience,” Porter said.

Because the children may not always get to experience typical summer activities back home, Porter is asking the local community to chip in. She says if anyone owns horses locally or has animals or products the kids may enjoy using outside while they are visiting Michiana, all donations are welcome.

The camp already has enough lodging to fit everyone, but the church is looking for more people to donate their time and some money to help make the camp happen at the end of June.

Of the $50,000 needed, the church has raised roughly $6,000. You can donate to a GoFundMe account for the camp here.

And if you’re interested in volunteering to work at the camp or you have items, food or animals you can donate, you can contact Reverend Porter at Dowagiac’s Conner-Mayo AME Church. The address is 505 N. Front Street, Dowagiac, MI 49047 and Rev. Porter can be reached at 269-414-0173.

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