United Cerebral Palsy of Mobile is happy to present the #UCPSpotlight Series. Each month we will be featuring clients, staff, board members, volunteers and programs! There are no shortage of incredible stories from our organization and we are proud to share some of them with you.
If you’ve ever been to Camp SMILE, you’ve probably met either Matrisza Alvarez or Molly Schemm. Camp SMILE returned this summer after a brief hiatus and the team couldn’t have been more excited. The Director and Assistant Directors of Camp respectively, Matrisza and Molly are responsible for putting on Camp SMILE every year. Each summer hundreds of campers come to Camp SMILE, which aims to empower children and adults with disabilities with an inclusive summer camp experience. With adaptable activities ranging from swimming, boating, archery, horseback riding, fishing, arts and crafts, and more there is never a dull day for the campers. Molly says the campers’ favorite activity is the end of week talent show, “Many participate and get a chance to shine on stage, and all of the campers love cheering on whoever is in the spotlight at the time. It is a great chance for camp to come together and always provides lots of laughs and applause.”
Although Camp was only able to be 50% capacity this year, Molly and Matrisza both were very excited to see everyone involved again. Molly said she was looking forward to getting back together after a summer apart. “Even though it won’t be the ‘traditional’ camp experience, I have missed being together with campers and counselors so much!” For some, the ties to Camp run very deep. Matrisza has been part of Camp SMILE for most of her life, “My mother volunteered at camp as a teenager & I have been going to camp most of my life.” However for Molly, coming across Camp was more coincidence than anything else, “I heard about camp through word of mouth. As I was looking to engage with a non-profit, UCP of Mobile consistently came up as a well-loved local organization. Camp was hiring, and I was so happy to get the call to come on board!” Molly has worked with Camp ever since, “I have been with Camp SMILE and UCP for a little over three years, and this will be my fourth summer camp.”
Matrisza and Molly have been an incredible team and work really well according to Molly. “We perfectly balance each other out, and are able to play our strengths and weaknesses off of each other. Plus, not a day goes by that we aren’t making each other laugh while getting ready for camp.” Besides preparing Camp every year, Matrisza enjoys spending time with her husband, son, and dogs while Molly loves to spend time with her friends, often outdoors or cooking dinners.
Thank you Matrisza and Molly for all you do for Camp SMILE and sharing your experience! If you would like to help with Camp SMILE, Molly says different changes in Camp have caused additional costs, “Overall, we are asking the community to keep us in mind for monetary donations, or if they happen upon any Microban while they are out and about, we will happily take any and all of it!”
We appreciate you reading this month’s UCP Spotlight and please look forward to more features like this each month. If you’d like to learn more about Camp SMILE, please visit their website here. If you or a family member would like to share your experience with our organization, please contact us at 251-479-4900.