Because it was the right thing to do.
Simply that and nothing more.
That was the thought process that nurtured the Herculean renovation that began two weeks ago at Craftsmen Park in New Franklin, home of Camp Quality Ohio, a free, weeklong summer camp experience for cancer patients ages 4 to 18 and their siblings.
Make no mistake about it, this good deed took a village of volunteers, mostly employees at Lowe’s Green store.
But it was two women — small in stature, and with absolutely no previous ties to Camp Quality Ohio — who led the charge and hustled to get everything shipshape, in time for the children’s arrival Sunday.
Rosemary Lassiter of Richfield and Cindy Lambert, who divides her time between homes in Uniontown and Florida, had seen the condition of the campsite and wanted better for these special campers. So they got busy, very busy, and in a hurry.
In fact, they were almost too busy to pause and share the story that mirrors America’s great can-do spirit.
Neither wanted credit for lighting the fire. However, a little birdie told me it was Rosemary, whose initial target was the nurse’s cabin, where the children come to receive their chemotherapy and other medical treatment, specifically the flooring. Only it didn’t stop there.
First stop was Lowe’s in Green, where she met Bret, who is in charge of the carpeting department. She wanted to know how much of a discount she could get on commercial flooring.
What a dream he turned out to be. Bret (a man of few words who didn’t want to give his last name) visited the campsite at Rosemary’s urging. Then he approached Lowe’s management and fellow employees who quickly organized themselves under the national Lowe’s “Heroes” program, for which volunteers adopt a nonprofit to make a difference in the community.
Heroes they are. The difference they made is as beautiful as it is incalculable.
They installed linoleum, which is all Rosemary had asked for. In fact, she had only hoped to get it at a discount, not for free.
However, as Bret and his fellow Heroes looked around, they spotted other things that needed work. So they dug in, working almost around the clock for nearly two weeks.
Many like Bret and Jodie, another management-level person at the store who didn’t want to use her last name, took vacation to work at the camp. Bret even enlisted five members of his biological family in addition to his work family, and other Lowe’s staffers, including some from Alliance. Several Masons also supplied muscle at the Masonic-owned campsite.
While the heroes worked, Rosemary and Cindy fed them at their own expense.
“We didn’t think they were going to be here for more than a day or two. But it’s been almost two weeks,” Rosemary delighted in saying.
“The next thing we knew we had a Lowe’s truck full of doors, linoleum and commercial-grade carpeting for four cabins, ceiling fans, drywall, a toilet, toilet seats, a bathroom vanity and sink and a whole lot more.”
So many projects
Marc Rankin, manager of Lowe’s Green store, was busy staining the deck at the nurse’s cabin during my impromptu visit this week, as others worked on landscaping and planting flowers.
At another cabin, Rankin’s son Jarrett and Sebastian Sutton plunged in, doing everything from installing drop ceilings to painting.
Setting high the generosity bar, these Heroes did lots of back-bending work in the blazing heat, including ripping out walls and floors. Yet neither the intensity of the work nor the heat seemed to bother anyone. To hear them tell it, complaining wasn’t even up for discussion given the inescapable battles faced by the campers soon to take up residence there.
“The transition has been crazy different!” Cindy Lambert enthused. “I mean it’s huge!”
Not in their wildest dreams did Rosemary and Cindy imagine such massive support and such sweet attention to details.
They cited Colleen Glasscock, manager of the appliance department at Lowe’s Green, in particular for working her magic on the cabin walls, painting large, kid-friendly symbols.
Rounding up help
In addition to feeding the volunteers, Rosemary and Cindy were all over the place, looking for bargains to further pretty up the cabins. They got the most bang from their bucks at J.C. Penney’s outlet store at Rolling Acres Mall, purchasing several quilts.
Cindy even enlisted a close friend in Pennsylvania to refashion the queen-sized, nautical-themed quilts into bunk sizes. “We’re not wasting any of the fabric either,” she wanted me to know. “What’s left over is being made into pillows and tablecloths.” She will travel this week to pick them up.
Rosemary had earlier enlisted the help of about 20 women in Strongsville, who don’t even know where Craftsmen Park is, to donate money to buy three air conditioners: “We needed four. So I took the money to the Fairlawn Lowe’s, told them I have enough for three but we needed four. They gave us four!”
In addition to the Lowe’s Heroes, these big-hearted women also received gifts from other local businesses. Scott Henry, chief executive officer of Lifetime Mattresses on Akron’s Romig Road, gave rock-bottom discounts for several new mattresses and box springs. Why? His parents used to volunteer at Camp Quality.
Wayside donated furniture, Sherwin-Williams on Manchester Road donated paint, and Acme is loaning tropical plants for the week to dress up the campsite.
Because charity always begins at home, Rosemary and Cindy were assisted by their husbands, Bob Lassiter and retired Akron Police Department officer Jim Lambert.
Ready for kids
Camp Quality director Kerri Franks is wowed by what has been “gifted” to Camp Quality: “It is amazing how everyone has jumped in, especially Lowe’s, leading with their hearts and doing everything they can think of to make it more pleasant for the kids. Unreal!”
Franks said 71 campers are expected for the opening ceremonies, along with an equal number of volunteer adult companions and those who run arts and crafts, karaoke, and other programs. She couldn’t be more pleased with the strong assist from out of nowhere Camp Quality is receiving.
While the camp is all about fun and games for the children — a great escape and a chance for them to be kids again — it also serves as a respite for worried parents, who are encouraged to do something fun for themselves while their young charges are being cared for by a very capable medical staff, who also volunteer their time.
Come to think of it, there is no better name for this annual enterprise than Camp Quality.
Jewell Cardwell can be reached at 330-996-3567 or firstname.lastname@example.org