Elizabeth Raymond Ambler Foundation Gives $5k to Camp HOPE Kids

The Center for Family Justice (CFJ) has received a $5,000 grant from The Elizabeth Raymond Ambler Foundation to provide crisis and supportive services to children and youth who are victims of domestic and sexual violence in the Greater Bridgeport area.

The funds will help CFJ address a significant increase in demand for its free, confidential services, which spiked by 32 percent since the Covid-19 pandemic first impacted the region in March 2020.

Debra A. Greenwood, President & CEO of The Center for Family Justice, said that the gift will “enable us to provide children and youth with positive role models who teach them how to have healthy relationships.”

“These kids need our support because they have disclosed that they have been inappropriately touched or living in a violent home. We can help them to move forward with their lives. There are many different pathways that kids and their can choose to help them move forward,” said Greenwood.

Camp HOPE America is one of the first evidenced-based camping programs in the United States to focus on children and teens impacted by domestic and sexual violence. The mission is to give youth a brighter future by creating pathways to hope and healing. What makes Camp HOPE America special is the trauma-informed lens the program was developed from.

In the summer of 2017, Camp HOPE America – Bridgeport was launched by The Center for Family Justice as a summer camp experience, and the program expanded in 2021 to a year-long engagement and mentoring program called Pathways to HOPE. Our primary goal is to mitigate the impact of trauma on children with high Adverse Childhood Experience (ACE) scores through holistic and meaningful year-round programming and mentorship.

Sasha Collins, Pathways to HOPE Coordinator and Clinician, said “the funding is critical because it provides youth with safe, supportive, and inclusive opportunities in nature that promote hope, healing, and growth. On average, it costs $1,000 a year to send a child to Camp HOPE America – Bridgeport, which is equivalent to 4-5 months of therapy. In contrast, it costs the state of Connecticut up to $70,000 a year per inmate. By engaging youth with ACE scores in Camp HOPE America, they are less likely to experience poor mental health, and engage in risky and/or criminal behaviors. Outcomes show they are more likely to experience academic achievement, attendance, athletic achievement, goal attainment, leadership, tolerance, kindness, and pro-social behaviors.”

All Pathways to HOPE staff receive additional training in the history and evidence-based framework of Camp HOPE America, the science of HOPE, trauma-informed best practices in youth mentoring and cultural competency. Pathways to HOPE staff also receive technical assistance and training by the Camp HOPE America team including the national mentoring and outreach coordinator.

For more information about The Center for Family Justice, please visit www.centerforfamilyjustice.org

About The Elizabeth Raymond Ambler Foundation: The Elizabeth Raymond Ambler Trust was established in 1998 by the will of Elizabeth Raymond Ambler for the dual purpose of providing scholarships and community grants.

About The Center for Family Justice: Last year, CFJ provided crisis and supportive services to more than 5,500 residents of Bridgeport, Easton, Fairfield, Monroe, Stratford, and Trumbull who have experienced domestic or sexual violence and child abuse. As a Family Justice Center, CFJ works to provide its clients with all the comprehensive services they need in one safe place. Those free, confidential services include safe shelter, 24/7 crisis hotlines, counseling, support groups, Pro Bono Legal Services and psychotherapy for children impacted by the trauma of abuse. CFJ also operates the Elizabeth M. Pfriem Camp HOPE America-Bridgeport, a trauma-informed camp and year-long engagement program for youth ages 7-17 who have experienced abuse of a domestic or sexual nature.

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