Henry Ford OptimEyes

Madison Heights, Mich.
CEO, Henry Ford Health System: Nancy M. Schlichting


“Every July, team members at all Henry Ford OptimEyes locations raise money to help send kids to two special healing camps: Camp Erin and Camp Maplegrove.

‘Camp Erin is a place for children who have experienced the death of a close family member or friend,’ explained Geri Hulvey, an optometric technician at Henry Ford OptimEyes who volunteers with the camp. ‘It helps kids deal with their grief, find closure and gain hope. It helps them know they are not alone.’

The camp is an extension of SandCastles, a biweekly program open to the community at large and sponsored by Henry Ford Hospice for grieving children and their families. But Camp Erin offers kids the chance to get away and tend to their own needs. ‘The healing impact of camp is powerful. You can see the growth as it happens when the campers face their grief, support each other, and learn lifelong coping skills,’ said Peggy Nielsen, director of Camp Erin.

Camp Maplegrove, a Henry Ford Health System program, is for children who live with substance abuse, mental illness, or other chronic stress in their family. ‘We help give these kids the tools they need to express their true feelings appropriately,’ described Betty Conger, co-founder of Camp Maplegrove. ‘These children can’t change their situation, but they can learn ways to cope with it.’ In fact, many who come to Camp Maplegrove as a child come back to volunteer later in life. ‘These volunteers are proof that stressful situations can be overcome,’ added Conger. ‘Camp Maplegrove fosters resiliency and teaches children the skills to move forward in positive ways.’

Both camps serve children ages 5 to18 and tuition is free, so they rely on donations and volunteers to provide services. Since 2009, Henry Ford OptimEyes employees have raised nearly $50,000 to send more than 150 children to camp.”