The idea for Camp Kelly was manifested through two incredible women that helped pave the way I began my career and personal mission of making a better quality of life for ALL children.
Kelly Harris was my first boss, mentor, and very dear friend. She was a young mother and worked as a site director for the Simi Valley YMCA. Kelly hand-picked me at the ripe age of 16 to work at her summer camp. She was strong, patient, and of course fun! She was a singer and was able to blend her amazing talent into her camp program daily. Kelly was one of the first people I came out to and felt not only seen but accepted and equal. She empowered me to strive for more and teach others how to interact with children on their level. Kelly taught me how to think outside the box and reach children on a level that even I cannot even explain today. On March 8th, 2009, Kelly at the young age of 30 years old passed away tragically. She is remembered daily for her strength, charisma, and her incredible voice. Kelly Harris pushed me to become the professional, friend, and mother that I am today.
Dr. Carol Kelly was my mentor, professor, and the first person that really encouraged me to reach for the stars professionally and academically. The easiest way to describe Dr. Kelly was like a hummingbird, she quite literally never stopped. A professor at CSUN in the Child and Adolescent Development Department, liaison for children on an international front, and the ultimate person that connected like-minded people together. Dr. Kelly believed in me and helped me to realize that I have a gift to teach, mentor, and heal children and their families. Sadly, on February 10th, 2017, Dr. Carol Kelly also passed away. Her legacy continues on with so many professionals in the field, I still meet new folks through our alumni chapter at CSUN that we touched, inspired, and motivated by Dr. Kelly.
Both of these women, my two Kelly’s, are the reason and inspiration for Camp Kelly. The mission of Camp Kelly is to help children and their families to experience love, a sense of belonging, and inclusivity. When Camp Kelly officially opens its doors, it will truly be a safe place for all humans. Camp Kelly will honor the lives of both of these amazing women.