Rotary fundraiser for Camp Harstad underway

ESCANABA — Those involved with the Escanaba Rotary Trust Fund for Children with Special Needs, which funds the continued operation of Camp Harstad and other local Rotary initiatives, are asking for the support of community members through a fundraising campaign. Envelopes for the campaign can be found in today’s issue of the Daily Press.

“The goal of the campaign is to increase our investable funds so we can continue to provide this program,” said Roger Charbonneau, the camp’s director and vice president of the trust fund’s board of directors. Camp Harstad is a Ford River day camp for children with disabilities, which has been operating in its current form since 1949.

Donations to the trust fund will also help support a swim program for children with special needs. According to Charbonneau, Rotary provides both of these programs in conjunction with the Northern Lights YMCA.

Today’s fundraising campaign was inspired in part by a smaller-scale campaign that took place last fall. That campaign was held with the goal of raising money for overdue maintenance to buildings at Camp Harstad.

“Last September, (we) embarked on a building fundraiser campaign, soliciting funds to… (improve) the camp,” Charbonneau said.

Buildings at the camp needed new floors, new partial foundations, and new coats of treatment and paint at the time.

As part of the campaign, members of the trust fund’s board of directors wrote grant applications to the John and Melissa Besse Foundation, the Hannahville Indian Community, the Edward J. Sackerson Charitable Foundation, the Community Foundation for Delta County, and Lions Clubs in Bark River and Wells. According to Charbonneau, these appeals were successful.

“We generated a little over $31,000 from that, and with that, we made the improvements,” he said. Charbonneau also thanked the groups and people who supported the campaign.

Due to the success of this campaign, the trust fund’s board of directors thought that the community at large would be willing to offer financial support to the trust fund. While their previous fundraising campaign focused on direct appeals to local organizations and individuals, Charbonneau said the scope of this campaign is considerably larger.

“We’re hitting a broad spectrum,” he said.

As a result, Charbonneau said he believes this campaign has the potential to raise a significant amount of money for the trust fund.

“We’re hoping to generate $200,000,” he said.