Featured in The Trentonian
They lived on financial fumes and fluttered faith.
Camp Fire NJ, which challenges youth to find their spark in life, appeared headed for darkness as funding disappeared.
Kelly Nitti and Jessica Nitti, a dynamic duo in a fight against bullying and sisters-in-law through marriage, had believed in their mission with such fervor that they had missed two personal pay checks.
The two Camp Fire directors, Kelly the associate director and Jessica the executive director, held on as Christmas approached.
They wondered if this were the end to programs that offered classroom instruction about bullying to thousands of New Jersey students.
Camp Fire championed an Afterschool Service Learning Program, Teens On Fire effort that taught leadership skills, bravery, and personal responsibility, and supported local summer camps.
Camp Fire had several lines of hope cast into funding pools, grants written by Claire Walton, a personal friend, who had faced a layoff with her own faith challenge.
It seemed like everyone involved with Camp Fire, from board members to clients either waited to exhale or held on for dear life.
Just days before Christmas, faith, hard work, and dreams were rewarded as Camp Fire landed two grants that will continue their much needed work.
Months ago, Kelly and Jessica Nitti were in tears inside their East Franklin St. Trenton office as we brainstormed ways to find funds.
Passion for their valuable work kept hope alive but even the most faithful can question higher powers when an accumulation of bills fall onto desktops.
Imagine believing so strongly in your work that a decision gets made to not pay yourself for a couple of weeks.
One other important item from our meeting included a promise to connect Camp Fire with Walton.
Walton had faltered after a downsizing at UIH Family Partners where she had been an integral part of that important Trenton agency that outreaches to men and families.
Still, she patch-worked a life with several part-time jobs.
I remember a dinner at Leonardo’s II when Walton teared-up about knowing her incredible worth, almost always ending up in the “final three” but never landing full-time employment.
Marlene, a mutual friend, told Walton to hold on. That night, Walton confessed her faith with a promise to keep moving forward in the face of adversity.
By the way, a certain affection exists here for people who cry about good fortune, perceived bad breaks, or other persons’ circumstances.
Crying allows vulnerability, a complete letdown of guard which actually builds trust.
The companies that passed on Walton made an incredible error in judgment. She remains a wonderful addition to any office or mission.
Companies who need heart and soul, if such institutions still exist, should seek out people like Walton.
Walton can consider this column a reference for future job searches. Hopefully, a human resources manager reads this and reaches out.
We struggle in life. No matter how secure our world seems, times arrive when our faith gets tested.
Addiction recovery offers a small but powerful saying of “this, too shall pass” meaning that good times and bad times have expiration dates.
Real faith, faith that works, requires action, movement, and a belief that (insert deity here) holds you in his heart. You may pray on it but blessings require action.
Faith and works breathe air into life.
Oxygen makes camp fires burn, giving illumination to the promise and sparkle of young lives.
Congratulations to Camp Fire.
May your mission flourish to empower and rescue children from bullying, to offer inspiration, and to assure all children know that they are loved.
See original story here.