Biondo Foundation celebrates expanded summer camp season

| 29 Sep 2011 | 09:39

MILFORD - Although summer is officially over, memories of magical moments linger in the minds of nearly 100 special children who got to experience the joys of summer camp thanks to The Ingeborg A. Biondo Memorial Foundation. Since 2002, when only 8 campers participated, the foundation has funded a summer camping program for children with special challenges. This year, the program expanded to include additional camps and the number of campers increased as well. “We’re very pleased with the continued growth of the program,” said Founder Joseph R. Biondo, principal of Biondo Investment Advisors of Milford. “It’s gratifying to see even more children and their families being served. It’s exactly what we had envisioned when we started the program.” In addition to Camp Speers-Eljabar, Country Ark Farm and Linwood MacDonald YMCA Retreat Center in Branchville, N.J., camping opportunities were made available at several new locations, Camp Nejeda, in Stillwater N.J.; the Pocono Environmental Education Center and Camp Shohola, in Greeley. The Foundation also funded camp opportunities for special needs children through the Delaware Valley School District, as well as at the Center for Developmental Disabilities in Milford. Another first this year was a Family Camp Weekend conducted at Camp Netimus, in Milford. The family of a young girl who attended Country Ark Farm participated in the family program at Camp Netimus and wrote, “We had such a good time. The people there were wonderful and friendly and our daughter felt like a princess. Everyone was so attentive.” One couple, whose son suffers from Type I diabetes and took part in the Camp Nejeda program, wrote to express their gratitude: “Please know that you are affording a very courageous 13-year-old an opportunity to not only be with other children with diabetes - but also a chance to grow, learn and become an independent young adult through his camp experience. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts.” Another mother applauded staff members at Camp Speers-Eljabar, who researched her daughter’s disorder to determine how they could best help her. One parent, whose daughter attended day camp at Country Ark Farm, wrote, “I was so happy to pick up my daughter each day and see the joy on her face. In the morning, she couldn’t wait to get there!” It’s just the kind of outcome that the Foundation’s namesake, Ingeborg A. Biondo, might have hoped for had she lived to participate in its ongoing work. The Foundation was created as a living memorial to Joe’s wife, Inga, who passed away in 1979. Mother, wife, friend and children’s advocate, Inga’s life was defined by her passion for her four children and her desire to help children with special needs. Today, the work Inga lovingly started has become a living legacy through the thriving camp program, which started out providing camp funding for a few children with physical, neurological or developmental challenges. The foundation’s camping program now provides the means for many children from the tri-state region of Pennsylvania, New York and New Jersey to experience the lifelong memories of a summer camp experience. Joe and his wife, Ronnie, work with highly committed board members, including Inga and Joe’s son, Joseph P. Biondo, to bring together typical children and children with special needs in a camp setting where each can learn about the other. Their dedication is evidenced by the program’s continued growth and the satisfaction of the families it assists. Development Coordinator, Maria Crawford, is proud to have played a role in the camping program’s success. “Its growth means more opportunities for some very special children to experience the joy and enrichment of summer camp. The campers develop an increased sense of self-confidence, learn many new skills and get to have a lot of good old-fashioned fun. ” said Crawford. “I’m just happy to be a part of it.” For additional information about The Ingeborg A. Biondo Memorial Foundation, or to lend your support and sponsor a child for camp, contact Maria Crawford at 570-686-2402.