25 Stories: Anna Rysavy

One Heartland Partner (2015 – Present)

Anna (PSP) crop

Anna has been working with People Serving People since 2015. People Serving People is the region’s largest and most comprehensive family-focused homeless shelter, helping homeless and at-risk children and their families manage crisis situations and build a strong foundation for their long-term success. In her current role as Educational Services Coordinator, Anna manages after-school and summertime programming for children and youth who are staying at the People Serving People shelter. People Serving People has referred youth to our Camp Northstar since its inception in 2009. Over the years, Anna has come to understand how meaningful camp can be to her clients. Last spring, before camp registration even began, she came across a child and his mother in the shelter. As soon as the child saw Anna, he blurted out, “When are we going to camp this year?!” Anna laughed, asking the boy’s mother, “School isn’t even out yet and he’s talking about camp?” to which she responded, “It’s all he’s talked about since he got back last year!”

For kids staying in the People Serving People shelter, camp is an opportunity to escape the stress of a transitional lifestyle and just be a kid. They don’t have to be responsible for younger siblings or tag along with their parents on errands. Instead, they spend 5 days playing and choosing how to spend their own time. This helps participants build self-confidence and regain a sense of agency over their often hectic lives. Anna sums up the impact of camp: “These kids will look back on a challenging time in their lives and have something to smile about. One Heartland does that for our youth”.

Thank you to People Serving People and staff like Anna who help us give camp to kids who need it most!