Camp Agape ~ Providing Love, Laughter and Respite

Jeannie Ranglas, Metropolis of San Francisco Philoptochos President is a true dynamo. She is petite, pretty, and polite, a true California girl (originally from Chicago) with an optimistic outlook. Although some may see her kind demeanor in conflict with success, Jeannie proves that kindness and success are not mutually exclusive but that kindness is a necessary element for success.

One of Jeannie’s recent achievements has been the Metropolis of San Francisco’s Inaugural Gala held on March 2nd at the Ritz Carlton of which Jeannie was a Co-chairman with George Marcus, church philanthropist and businessman.  Jeannie and George led a committee which planned the evening. The Gala was sold out and $1 million was raised for an endowment for the ministries of the Metropolis, no small feat.

One of the wonderful things Jeannie and the entire San Francisco Metropolis Philoptochos are involved in is the Kids ‘n’ Cancer Camp Agape Ministry. Jeannie is the President.

As stated in the Metropolis of San Francisco Philoptochos website:
The mission of the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of San Francisco Philoptochos  Kids ‘n’ Cancer Camp Agape Ministry is to provide support for children afflicted with cancer and other life-threatening diseases. The Ministry offers a life-changing experience for children and their families. It provides opportunities for enjoyment, learning, and building self-esteem and confidence in a safe setting. The kindness and caring that surrounds them offers an ideal environment for therapy and healing.

Camp Agape is a special place where families have the opportunity to enjoy four carefree summer days, away from the sights and sounds of doctors, laboratories, and hospitals, where they spend so much of their lives. Children and their families engage in hands-on group activities that provide a reprieve from their daily challenges. For children and their families, this is a truly therapeutic camp experience.
Kids ‘n’ Cancer Camp Agape is a Philoptochos ministry that began at the St. Nicholas Ranch in Dunlap, California and has expanded to camps in: Portland, Oregon; Seattle, Washington; San Diego, California; and Prescott, Arizona. The ministry supports the Emilio Nares Foundation, which provides oncology transportation programs in San Diego and Orange counties. Camp Agape offers an all-expense-paid summer camp experience to hundreds of cancer-affliected children and their families from less fortunate homes.

Kids’n’Cancer: What is a day worth?

by: Mary Peros

As I get older I often ask myself, "What exactly is one day of happiness worth?" I don't have a good answer. In the course of a lifetime, is only a second. Yet, I sense it is worth a lot. I saw what four happy days were worth to 25 young leukemia and lymphoma patients at the most recent Kids'n'Cancer Camp. I was amazed to find out that one of the biggest smiles I saw during the Grand Ball was on the face of the most critically ill child at camp. Lorena, who is terminal, came to the ball with purple sprayed hair and glamorous make-up. She was wearing a gown we fashioned out of satin fabric and draped around her a few hours before. I actually helped with her "gown."  She was not fussy. Everything we did to embellish it was fabulous to her. I remember that we made a flower out of scrap fabric and she proudly wanted it pinned on her shoulder. She was not thinking about her illness. She was not being poked and probed and biopsied. I was so afraid to pin the flower on her probably because I knew what she has been through and continues to go through each day. At that moment, however, and for those few days, she was laughing from the heart. What exactly is that worth?  And, are we ever assured of more than just today anyway?

This ministry of our Metropolis has a value that goes beyond the plastic water guns, the bingo games and the wonderful crafts. It offers the value of real quality time to families who deal with illness on a day-to-day basis. We hear about "quality time" a lot these days. Talk to your kids. Turn off the television. Eat a family meal together. And, yes, those are examples of some very positive alternatives for families. However, for these children and their families, quality was at a different level. A basketball game between the dads and kids was absolutely perfect. Quilts were made, moms were pampered, dads chatted, and life stories were shared. We visited the beautiful monastery and the children's eyes opened so wide when they entered the chapel. They marveled at the chandelier and that it swings in the presence of angels.
On the last day a tree was planted to commemorate the camp. We prayed for the health of the children and families leaving and we prayed for those we have lost. Each child and parent put a shovel full of dirt into the base of the tree. Many of these children were five or six years-old. Usually you put a shovel into a child's hand and you would see a sense of playfulness. There were no smiles on anyone's faces at that moment. Even though some of them were so young, they were all well aware of what could be. But for four magic days in the middle of summer, in a camp nestled in the foothills beside the mountains near Fresno, each day was priceless.

~These reflections were written on June 22, 2012 by Mary Peros, a Metropolis Philoptochos Board Member and first time attendee of Camp Agape.

His Eminence Metropolitan Gerasimos and the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of San Francisco Philoptochos Board cordially invite you to attend an Agape Celebration of Love to benefit Kids ‘n’ Cancer Ministry.

Sunday, May 26, 2013 
4:00 to 7:00 pm 
Big Canyon Country Club
One Big Canyon Drive
Newport Beach, CA 

$75 per person

Please follow the link to view the e-vite:

-Vivian Siempos