In collaboration with colleagues across the globe, Roche Diagnostics employees from around the U.S. participate in the annual Children's Walk to raise funds to support the needs of vulnerable children. Last year marked a record year for the Children's Walk — with over 26,000 people from 138 sites across 60 countries taking part, significantly surpassing the 18,000 participants from 2020. Locally, employees have raised more than $120,000 over the past decade. The money donated and raised by Indy employees supports the Tataya Mato camp at Jameson Camp. This camp is for kids whose lives have been impacted by HIV/AIDS. Most campers attend via scholarship and come from inner cities or lower-income households throughout Indiana, Ohio and Illinois.
This year, as part of the 2022 Roche Children's Walk, we spoke with Bonnie Woodfork, board president of Jameson Camp. She has served Jameson Camp for the past six years, and believes in this camp's programs and the positive life principles they teach children. Here, Bonnie shares how serving on the board has allowed her to be a part of critical decision-making regarding the camp's sustainability and presence.
Jameson camp started as a fresh air and nutrition camp in 1928 for children suffering from tuberculosis and other illnesses. Through the decades, as the social, emotional and health needs of children changed, the camp's mission changed, opening up programming that addressed the health needs of children within the community and interpersonal and behavioral needs. Through the motto "Get Outside, Grow Inside," Jameson partners with the Indianapolis community and organizations around the country to provide unforgettable experiences that give children and teens a welcome, safe and accepting space to discover their strengths, build friendships and experience nature.
I was introduced to the camp here at Roche Indianapolis with the annual Children's Walk fundraiser. I walked and donated to support this worthwhile cause each year, but I didn't know much about the camp. In 2016, through my involvement with Roche's Women's Leadership Initiative business resource group, I received an email calling for additional people to serve on the board of directors for the camp. I had done some re-centering of my life to define my purpose. Part of that purpose was to establish a mission to positively influence people, particularly young women and girls. After learning more about Jameson Camp, I did some research of my own. I saw that the mission and programs of Jameson fell right in line with my mission of being a positive influence, not just for girls in this case but for young children within our community. So I decided to answer the call and apply. I was appointed to the board in 2016, and I have been serving ever since. I was elected board president in January 2021.
Being a part of a board has been a personal goal for quite some time. When I was appointed, it was one of my proudest moments. It was a chance to be a part of an organizational board where our work followed my mission of inspiring people. This camp's programs have changed a lot of young people's lives. I've witnessed kids making life choices that they wouldn't make independently. Kids who are guarded, quiet, and, for some, troubled are coming out of their shells and becoming more interactive and accepting of others, all because of this camp's programs and the positive life principles they teach.
When asked to serve as board president, I was very honored and humbled that the board members and staff saw my passion — having the support and trust in my ability to lead. At first, it hit me as a huge responsibility, which caused a bit of apprehension, but just knowing what the role represented and how I could be a strong champion for the mission moved me to accept the challenge.
It's been a challenging few years due to the pandemic's restrictions, and we had to reduce or cancel programs. Many of the kids were disappointed that they had to miss out on camp. This year, we're getting back to our regular programming. So we can serve all of our usual campers and add some newcomers. In the long term, my hope is increased knowledge about this camp and the programs. Not many people within Indianapolis or the region know that this camp or the beautiful property exists. There are so many young people who can benefit from these life-altering programs, so we will continue to promote Jameson Camp to increase the influence and change mindsets for the better.
Throughout the last six years, I have so many memories. Seeing the smiles on the kids' faces and how much fun they have during their visits is incredible to witness. Being the only board member whose company has an annual corporate fundraising event to support the camp speaks volumes about the strong partnership with such a worthwhile community effort.
However, I think my favorite memory was when Roche Indy employees volunteered at the camp. Since many people are not aware of the camp, I thought it would be great for Roche employees to see where their donation money goes. Over the past few years, employees have come to the camp to help with preparing for the summer. During one of the visits, the grounds manager spoke to 60-plus Roche employees, letting them know how much the camp means to him and thanking them for their volunteer efforts. While he was talking, he broke down in tears, just overwhelmed with the turnout and willingness of so many people taking the time out of their day to assist. Everyone in the room could feel his passion for the camp's mission, and pretty soon, tears were flowing throughout the room. This moment touched me so deeply, and it became my goal to work to increase Roche Indy's involvement with this wonderful program.
Bonnie Woodfork, MBA, has been involved with Jameson Camp since her appointment to the board of directors in 2016. From there, she continued to serve on the board in various position capacities until she was elected to serve as board president in 2021. In conjunction with her board work, Bonnie also gives back to the camp by performing volunteer work from time to time during the camp's summer seasons, as well as being a champion at Roche for employee volunteer opportunities. During the day, she works in Roche Diabetes Care as a contracting consultant.