Monday, January 19, 2015

State of the Heart Hospice Camp BEARable Gets First bears for Youngsters at Camp

Pictured are, front row: Ashlyn Fledderjohn and Beth Bruns; back row, left to right, Betty Ranly, April Meyer, Lee Baker, James Dunlap, Pauline Faller and Ashlee Carder.
State of the Heart Hospice and its annual Camp BEARable for grieving youth is on the receiving end of a group of young people’s efforts to give back to the community on a monthly basis. Recently, the young people in a program called “Transitions Unit” helped stuff bears that will be given to youth attending Camp BEARable which will be held July 17-19 at the Spiritual Center at Maria Stein.

Betty Ranly, a teachers’ aide at Coldwater Schools works with the Transitions project. It is a part of the Mercer County Educational Service Center, she explained, adding that the five young people, ages 18 to 22, are part of the Transitions Unit which assists those in the project to develop life skills and job skills. “The objective is for them to get jobs and integrate them into the workplace,” Ranly said. Each month the students take on a community project, she added. They have done tasks such as trash collection along roadways, donating food to the food pantry and interacting with seniors at retirement communities.

Ranly is no stranger to helping with Camp BEARable. Pauline Faller, Manager of Volunteer Services for State of the Heart, said Ranly has made bears for Camp in the past. Faller coordinates the volunteer efforts in making and stuffing the bears. Ranly said she first learned of Camp BEARable through reading of the camp in her church bulletin a few years ago. She made the 12 bears that the group recently stuffed. Each year, volunteers help in sewing the bears, each one unique, and stuffing them. Each camper receives a bear and takes the bear home with them.

“This is exciting to have these young people chose our Camp BEARable for their monthly community project,” stated Ashlee Carder, a music therapist and Bereavement Support Specialist for State of the Heart. She is also Camp Director. This year marks the 15th year that the camp has been held. It is for youth who are grieving the loss of a loved one. The camp is free and those attending do not have to have any connection with hospice in order to attend.

The camp experience is unique, she explained, as it mixes fun and games along with serious dialogue about loss and grief. Each young person is paired with a specially trained “buddy” who is with the camper most of the weekend. Over 600 young people have attended the camp since it began in 2000.

Since the camp is provided free, financial contributions are always welcomed, Carder said, and “we always need volunteers to help that weekend.” Volunteers go through an orientation prior to camp. For more information about donating or volunteering or to register, call Carder at 1-800-417-7535. Or, you can send her an email at

For 34 years, State of the Heart has provided care to patients and families in eastern Indiana and western Ohio who are confronting a life limiting illness. For more information about any of the services provided by the nonprofit agency, visit the web site at

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