The Birgitta Johnson Campership Fund for Fellowship Place

Individual's love of travel and adventure inspires a fund for adults coping with chronic mental illness

In the summer 2014, Fellowship Place Inc. established The Birgitta Johnson Campership Fund in memory of Birgitta Johnson, who joined the Board in 1998 and served as its chair from 2001 to 2004. The Fund was created to honor Birgitta's years of dedication to the agency, her commitment to philanthropy, and her love of travel and adventure.

Each year, the fund will award three camperships for Fellowship Place members to attend Camp CONNRI, an adult retreat and vacation center operated by the Salvation Army located on over 250 acres overlooking a lake in eastern Connecticut.

"The existence of a campership Fund presents Fellowship Place members with an opportunity of a lifetime," explains Melissa Holroyd, development director at Fellowship Place. "Most have never taken an overnight trip outside of the city, let alone an activity-filled vacation in the country fresh air." Camp activities range from swimming and boating to miniature golf, archery, arts & crafts and theme dances.

Fellowship Place offers a full-service psycho-social center, open 365 days a year, providing a broad range of housing, support, rehabilitation and employment services to help adults with chronic mental illness lead more meaningful, fulfilling, and healthy lives.

In March 2014, Fellowship Place's Board of Directors conducted the first annual Campership Contest. Members were asked to submit an essay or piece of artwork describing why they wanted to go to camp. Awards were given for Best Essay, Best Art Work, and Best Overall Entry. Three campership winners joined 14 other Fellowship members and 3 staff at CONNRI from July 8-11.

"For most of the members in the group, the trip to CONNRI was their first overnight vacation," says Mary Guerrera, executive director of Fellowship Place. "The opportunity to leave the inner city for a few days and enjoy the natural beauty of the camp builds confidence and recharges their batteries to cope with the many challenges they face at home."

Campership Testimonials

"When I wake up in my apartment in New Haven, I hear constant noise from police sirens & emergency vehicles. At CONNRI, I woke up to peace & quiet. It felt wonderful."

"This was my first opportunity to go swimming in 15 years. I loved it."

"The chance to get away to a peaceful place revived my spirits and makes me feel ready to deal with my many challenges."

"I have never had a vacation before. It felt wonderful to get out of the city."

"I loved the dance and meeting people from another agency. We all got along and it was so much fun."

"I loved shuffleboard. I have never played before."

"I hope I can go again next year. This was the best trip ever, everyone was so nice."

Yes, I would like to give Fellowship members an opportunity of a life-time:

Gifts to the Fund will be used to support as many camperships as possible. Donations by check may be payable to The Community Foundation for Greater New Haven at 70 Audubon Street, New Haven CT 06510; please write Campership Fund in the memo line.