LETTERS TO THE EDITOR - Support urged for Camp Fire campaign

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As a member of Camp Fire USA's Steering Committee for its ongoing Building Capital Campaign, I am asking my friends and neighbors to join me in supporting a local organization that has served our community's children for nearly 100 years.

Camp Fire's programs served 201 youths at five After School Camp locations last school year and 91 youths at its summer day camp in Wildwood Park over the 10 weeks of summer.

In June, Camp Fire received a generous grant from the Sherwood Trust to renovate its office building on Park Street. This renovation transforms a former community grocery store into a well-planned office space that will serve our community's children for generations to come. The council has committed to raising the additional funds needed to complete the project using a three-phase approach:

Phase One (completed in June 2011): Included a necessary sewer connection to Newell Street.

Phase Two (scheduled to begin on Feb. 14, 2011): Addresses the critical need to improve the structural integrity of Camp Fire's building and transform it into a well-designed office space that meets the goals of this growing organization. The updated building will offer full handicap accessibility. Additionally, Camp Fire's kitchen will be updated to meet all required health standards, which will allow it to prepare the healthiest whole foods possible.

This renovation not only meets today's needs but plans for continued growth of Camp Fire programs and staffing structure. It will also provide Camp Fire with a much-needed conference room that will be used for board meetings, staff trainings and community groups' use.

Phase Three (scheduled for July of 2011): Encompasses all of the finishing touches. It will include updating Camp Fire's technology to meet today's standards and replacing its office furnishings to improve staff efficiency.

This much-needed project has been well thought out by council leadership to serve Walla Walla youths. We presently have reached 86 percent of our fund-raising goal. This is sufficient funding to complete Phase One and Phase Two, but we need further support from our community to get us across the finish line.

If you have any questions regarding this much-needed project, I encourage you to contact Camp Fire Executive Director Karen Wolf. She has offered to make herself available to give tours of the Camp Fire building to anyone who is interested in seeing the current state of its facility.

Sue Gillespie
Walla Walla

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