Lillie Romeiser, who is from the Chicago area, was a Religion major with an excellent record at Princeton. Her academics were strong, she was on the Princeton women’s varsity basketball team, and she compiled a very impressive list of voluntary
Lillie is intelligent, articulate, self-disciplined, and, perhaps most important, extremely motivated and passionate about the work she was to do. She received enthusiastic reviews from her Religion professor (“an outstanding student . . . motivated, compassionate and mature”), her basketball coach (“extremely hard-working . . . great determination and a wonderful value system that both grounds and motivates her . . . a leader”), and a member of the Camp Hope Board (“she always knows what needs to be done, and she finds a way to do it . . . an
inspiration to all who were around her”).
Lillie’s project was to work for an organization named Anchored in Hope, which sponsors a summer camp (“Camp Hope”) in the Chicago area for children,
teenagers and young adults challenged by developmental disabilities. At this camp,
there’s a “buddy” (a motivated college or high school student) for every disabled camper, tending to his or her needs on a 24-hour basis for the length of their stay.
According to Lillie (who’s been working with this and related groups in prior summers), not only is this a beneficial experience for the campers, but there is great value in it for the buddies, who become much more compassionate toward a group that is often the object of negative attitudes.
Lillie’s duties were extensive, including fund-raising and grant-writing, bringing Camp Hope to the attention of the community, recruiting volunteers, scheduling
the Camp’s programs, organizing informational meetings for campers and their parents and training sessions for buddies. She was on-site for the weeks the Camp was in session, as a leader and overseer of Camp events and camper-buddy relations.
Class of 2007
Here’s what Lillie has to say about her experience. “The ReachOut ’56 Fellowship allowed me to step into the organization at the perfect time, as the previous Camp Director was stepping down when I graduated from Princeton. In addition to the things listed above, I started some new initiatives for Camp Hope, including an annual Halloween party, which the campers love, and a day retreat for campers and buddies. I was appointed the Director of all camp operations for the summer of my ReachOut fellowship year, and I have continued in that role as the Camp Director since then. I also have continued to serve on the Camp Hope Board of Directors.
“My love for Camp Hope has only continued to grow since my fellowship year. Camp is a beautiful place – one where people are loved and supported for exactly who they are. It has become a family to me, and not only because my cousin Josh is one of our forty campers or because my mom also serves on the Board of Directors, but because everyone involved is bonded together by a love, compassion, and hope that extends so far beyond ourselves. Camp is founded on a Scriptural verse from the Book of Jeremiah, ‘For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’ (29:11) The goal of Camp Hope is to bring to fruition these good intentions that God has for all people, particularly those who are often marginalized in our society due to the differing abilities. Our future is only hopeful when we as individuals and as a community reach out in love towards one another. That is what Camp Hope is all about.”
The Executive Director of Camp Hope said this: “A week spent at Camp, witnessing the love and friendship between the campers and their buddies, is perhaps a glimpse of a little bit of heaven here on earth.” A Camp Hope parent said: “[My daughter] shared the photos [of camp] with me today and I wish I could express her pride and joy in her activities, her friends and the wonderful sense of accomplishment she felt. Camp Hope is just a wonderful concept and the people who run it truly love our children. The photos are proof of the love and joy that is shared. I just want to thank you for establishing the camp, working so hard to make it work, and supporting our wonderful family member. Camp Hope is a blessing.”
Lillie says, “Following my full-time stint with Camp Hope, I returned to Princeton and received my teaching certificate in elementary education through Princeton’s Teacher Preparation Program. Since then, I have been working as the youth minister for high school students at my home church in Lake Forest, IL, while also coaching soccer, volunteering in the community, and continuing to direct Camp Hope on the side. Working in youth ministry has given me a platform to share my love for service and helping people with the teenagers I engage with each day. Many of the teens in my youth group serve as buddies at Camp Hope each summer, and this is one of the most gratifying of experiences for me – seeing their lives be touched the way mine has.
“Camp Hope has very much molded and shaped me into the person that I am today, and I wouldn’t have had the chance to get involved to the extent that I have were it not for the ReachOut ’56 Fellowship grant. Camp Hope and I are both eternally grateful for the incredible opportunity it gave me. It was one of the greatest blessings I have been given in my life, and thus I do my best each day to be that blessing to others in return."