Hopes, Beliefs, and Convictions in 2020

Throughout 2020 True Friends has been hopeful for what we could do and achieve together, as a community, with caregivers, staff, donors, and many others. The uncertainty of what would happen next when COVID-19 first hit left our community feeling concerned and scared, but during this time we have been able to persevere and overcome the challenges of this year. One individual said me “True Friends is too important to this community to fail.” Hearing that belief, I felt such pride for this amazing organization. The belief that we are “too important to fail” has remained with me, and our staff as we continue to be innovative, and to reimagine our programs and services.

When the COVID-19 storm first hit True Friends we paused. Like many of you, we watched, we debated, we prepared, and then we cautiously started taking steps forward. While we were concerned for the health and safety of the individuals we serve we also knew we could be a solution to improve their health and safety.

Throughout the pandemic, we have served a small handful of individuals through Respite and Horse Therapy. Those programs have continued to grow and we are now serving over 40 individuals each week. In June, we launched True Friends Resorts, renting our cabins to families and small groups.

In August we welcomed the group home of a camper who has been attending camp every summer for 47 years. For those of you who know Fred, he was elated as always and his smile never left his face. For a moment, there was a sense of normalcy having a participant like Fred return and enjoy camp.

We have also spoken with individuals who we have been unable to serve; trying to sift through restrictions and personal comfort levels to find ways to support them. Many of our participants and their families have seen their crucial daily routines upended, and many have had critical services cut all together. These families are in our minds and on our hearts each day. We encourage those in need to reach out to us; there may be alternative opportunities for us to help.

Although our programming has been limited, even those would not be possible without the support of our friends and donors. In early 2020 we received a grant from the Lions Club International Foundation that allowed us to replace the floor in the Program Center gym and updated the exteriors of several cabins at Camp Friendship in Annandale.

We also received a special gift from the Ray and Florence Berglund Family Foundation, the Sanner family, and others who contributed to the creation of two new cabins at Camp Friendship. The generous gifts have truly set True Friends on a new path to update and modernize cabins in order to serve an increasingly medically complex community.

While we have a long way to go, we are empowered by your unwavering support. True Friends will continue to exist and provide much needed services to our participants and their families.

Thank you for your support. Take care and be well.

John LeBlanc,

President & CEO, True Friends

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