For blind and visually impaired teenagers, it is literally a life-changing experience.” Those were the words Paula Tarantino-Maione used in an recent address to the Saddle River Valley Lions Club to describe Camp Marcella, a residential summer campground designed specifically for children and teens with blindness, visual-impairments, and special needs.
Tarantino-Maione, herself a member of Lions Clubs International, has been a volunteer at the camp for over 30 years and has served as a member of its Board of Directors since 2006. She explained that “the objective of Camp Marcella is to provide its campers with a top notch recreational, educational, and rehabilitative camp experience, that is both fun and memorable.”
Located in Rockaway, NJ, Camp Marcella is owned and operated by the NJ Camp for Blind Children, Incorporated, a non-profit organization started in 1947. Since the camp’s inception, Lions Clubs across New Jersey have helped to financially support and maintain the Camp’s operations and facilities.
The camp itself comprises over 200 acres of woodland surroundings, including a clean, fish-laden lake, and a modern in-ground swimming pool with all of its facilities designed for the best possible care of visually impaired children. Over the past 60 years Camp Marcella’s facilities have grown from a handful of buildings to a thoroughly modern, state-of-the-art, 23 building facility specially adapted for persons with special needs.
The recently installed new president of the Saddle River Valley Lions Club, Dr. David C. Verducci, commented that “the strong and continuing special relationship between Camp Marcella and the Lions Club reflects our unwavering commitment to support organizations and programs that serve the blind and visually-impaired. We are very proud to be an part of the team effort that makes Camp Marcella possible.”
In thanking the local Lions for their ongoing support, Tarantino-Maione stated that “your contribution of both funds and the physical labor from groups like the Saddle River Valley Lions Club not only make it possible for campers to play games, sing songs, share experiences, learn from each other, and build cherished memories to last a lifetime, but also helps to shape the actual direction of the lives of Marcella’s campers.”
Verducci responded on behalf of the Lions by saying “we are very proud of everything being accomplished at the camp. It is the sincere hope of the club’s membership that our support will continue to help improve the lives of Marcella’s campers, not just for tomorrow, but for all the tomorrows to come.”
Currently celebrating its 60th year, the Saddle River Valley Lions Club is a regional club supporting the communities of Mahwah, Ramsey, Upper Saddle River, and Allendale. Classified as a 501C(3) non-profit entity, the organization has raised and distributed more than $2,350,000 during its existence. 100% of its net proceeds go directly to the charities that the Club supports with none of the funds raised being used to meet administrative expenses, a cost borne by the Lions themselves.
For more information about membership in or any of the many other activities and events sponsored by the Saddle River Valley Lions Club, visit the club’s Facebook page or its website, www.SRVLions.org. To learn more about Camp Marcella or to support its work with a contribution, go to www.CampMarcella.org.