25 Stories: Joan Carchedi

Joan Carchedi

Fundraising and office volunteer (2010-present)


One Heartland Founder Neil Willenson brought some campers to my place of work to share their stories. Having been diagnosed with HIV in 1992, I connected with them right away. There was no permanent camp yet. My employer sponsored and supported Camp Heartland for several years. I became very involved volunteering for fundraising events, such as the Heart and Soul Concerts.

I was not able to volunteer up at camp until 2010 at age 45. Keeping up was difficult – but I had the time of my life. I love learning all the camp songs such as the welcoming song when campers first arrive. I love that the campers are free of stigma here and to watch them learn for the first time to canoe, rock climb, etc. for the first time.

“Being a volunteer is a two-way street.”

Being a volunteer is a two-way street. I have made many strong friendships. I am honored that I get to help make a difference in any child’s life, such as watching a camper let their guard down here and learning they do have choices and opportunities. It has made me an open HIV book.


What’s your favorite camp memory?