One thing that has been said about volunteering for Camp Sunshine is that something transformational happens; volunteers come in one way and leave as completely different human beings. Certainly this can be said for our program managers Brie Richardson and Lindsey Mandolini. Brie and Lindsey came to Camp Sunshine as Hope College students intending to obtain credit within their education majors. Those few days, nearly fifteen years ago, changed their lives forever. They became trusted volunteers and leaders, and eventually formalized their roles as members of a tiny but mighty staff. Lindsey worked in a marketing role and Brie as the office assistant. When longtime director Cindy Terlouw announced retirement, she sought out this dynamic pair to become the program team.
Since 2017, Brie and Lindsey have been the face of Camp Sunshine for many, maintaining and developing relationships with volunteers, welcoming new campers and families, and creating a flourishing Camp Sunshine community. Together, they developed new virtual programming in the midst of the pandemic, and continued navigating the virus with the restart of camp sessions in 2022. In the past year alone, they helped start a Camper Advisory team, developed training for board, staff, and volunteers focusing upon inclusion with a keen eye towards the disability community. They host the monthly connections known as Sunshine Online, connecting with campers via Zoom. All of this has helped our organization dream about what we can be.
In their time on staff, Brie and Lindsey’s personal lives changed dramatically; a marriage, a move, and three additional children between the two of them. Throughout this summer, they have been discerning their role with Camp Sunshine. After much listening and pondering, they have determined that it is time to step away as program managers and return to the role of volunteers. There are not enough words for the gratitude our organization holds for the two of them and their incredible successes carrying on the legacy of Camp Sunshine.