Jacqueline Brown and her older sister Alethea Franklin can trace much of who they are today back to their experiences as children at Camp Bennett. Alethea's knowledge of Biblical truths, love for camping, and desire to foster compassion, as well as Jacqueline's swimming abilities, passion for travel, and interest in learning about people different from herself are all seeds of hope and joy planted at Camp Bennett years ago. And today these seeds have taken root in Alethea and Jacqueline's lives to bear fruit of strength, generosity, and mercy for others.
"We came from a low-income home, but Central Union Mission made us feel that we were somehow more than that. They helped you see that you could be more that you were. Camp gave me that exposure; it gave me some direction," recalls Alethea. Alethea and Jacqueline, along with their third sister Arlene Woodyard, attended Camp Bennett together over 35 years ago. But the years have not diminished their fond memories of hiking through the woods, sharing scary stories around the campfire, and making friends with new people from all over the Washington area during their weeks at Camp. Throughout the year, the sisters attended a weekly children's club at the Mission--learning Bible verses and stories through songs and games. At Christmastime, they eagerly looked forward to receiving Christmas Bags as well.
"With regards to my faith, the Bible verses that I learned through Central Union Mission have stuck with me throughout my life," says Jacqueline. "At times of crisis, it's been helpful to reflect on the Word. It strengthens me and gets me through those difficulties." During Christmas 2005, Alethea and Jacqueline demonstrated their gratitude and vision for passing on blessings by returning to Central Union Mission to participate as Christmas Bag donors.
I don't think I would be the person I am today--a giving person--if it weren't for Central Union Mission," says Alethea. "[When I was preparing my Christmas Bag,] I found myself buying more and more gifts. The sheer number of gifts should have made that little girl happy! Having been there, I know how much it can mean to those single moms with no way to provide camps or gifts for their children," commented Jacqueline.
Alethea and Jacqueline represent the highest hopes Central Union Mission has for the children who participate in Camp Bennett and our Children's Ministry. Not only did they gain fun memories and knowledge of the Christian faith, but they were profoundly shaped into the women they are today. They developed an understanding of themselves, their world, and the importance of living out their faith no matter where they find themselves in life.