Jim Dodwell shares his experience visiting Camp ASCCA

Jim Dodwell serves as the 2nd Vice President for the local Lake Martin Area United Way and also works with the organization Hammers of Hope that serves elderly people and individuals with disabilities by offering construction services by way of donated materials. Jim regularly works as a residential and commercial contractor, and when they have left over materials, they work quickly as Hammers Of Hope to help make repairs for those in need with donated labor and as much of the materials as possible.

As a member of the allocations committee for Lake Martin Area United Way, Jim was recently set to pay a visit to Camp ASCCA and a few other member agencies. After his visit, he took the time to write a profound piece on the impact Camp had on him that day. He felt led to share the entry with his local friends and family and received a much greater response than he expected.

Jim discovered that many people he has known for most of his life have family members with autism, and he says that it taught him to “listen more with my heart than with my ears.” Jim gave us permission to share his experience with our readers, and we believe that moments like the one Jim shared are what make Camp ASCCA such an incredible place and a home to so many each summer!

Check out Jim’s story here:

Good Morning,

Recently, I had the opportunity to visit Camp ASCCA located on Lake Martin, Al. The camp is purposed for special needs children and offer several activities for the “campers” during their stay. They have archery, horseback riding, a nature center, a sensor room, putt-putt golf, boating activities on the lake, a craft room, zip lines, splash pad and much more. At one point during our tour, we had to wait while several campers paraded by us on the way to the next activity, when one of the young men at the end stopped, turned to me and said, ”Hey, what is your name”? Surprised that he picked me out I said, “Jim.” He said, “Hello, Jim, you are a big guy, you know what we just did in that room?” “No sir”, I replied. He said, “Me neither but it was something with dirt and I got it all over my hands, so be careful.” I said, “Okay, I will, good to meet you.”

As I walked to the entrance to rejoin my group, he shouted, “Hey, Jim, you forgot to give me a hug.” So I walked back to him and gave him a hug and shook both his dirty hands. He smiled then asked me,” Hey, Jim, what’s your last name?” I said, “Dodwell.” He looked at me for several seconds as if trying to process the name and its meaning, then said, ”Well, Jim I need to move along, see you later, bye, good to meet you and watch out for that dirt in there.” I don’t know if he will remember me but I will always remember him, a special young man making the my visit extra special by taking the time to touch my heart, share a little advice and offer me a hug which I could not pass up.

I heard it said, “Sometimes the embers are better than the campfire.” My interpretation is that

the flames and heat from roaring fire will make you stand back while the cooler, glowing embers will draw you closer seeking their warmth. In my limited experience with special needs children they are like the embers. The warmth of closeness and love is what they seek, not necessarily for themselves but to share. They think of others first. They accept you, unconditionally, whether you accept them or not. This could be a lesson for all of us, in my opinion. The young man’s openness, honesty, and trust in me affected me in a way I can’t explain. He opened the eyes of my heart in those few minutes of conversation and I will never be able to repay him for the kindness.

Special needs: love, hope, kindness, joy, faith, honesty, trust, character, integrity, and so forth and so on, are especially needed. These are obtainable and shareable and it requires so little work. We just need to keep our hearts open and willing to share these “special needs” with others. So why do we simply do what is expected instead of the unexpected? We are thinking only of ourselves when this happens. But think about this, when we give generously, the impact of our generosity often outlives us. What, this is crazy talk…Well, not really.

In the moment of giving, we cannot imagine how our actions might impact the lives of others in the future. Because generously adding value to others is rare, the impact of that generosity lingers long after we are gone. Sometimes it outlives us both now and in eternity. We all have gifts to offer others. God has gifted us strengths to use for benefit of others. Everyone has something we all need. His gift makes us indispensible to others. In the Book of Luke, generosity played a big role in the feeding of the five thousand with five loaves and two fish. Jesus blessed the small basket of fish and bread and at the end of the meal collected 12 times more. This is how generosity works. In other words, a candle loses nothing by lighting another.

I encourage each of us to be open with our gifts and to share our love, hope, joy and faith with others. Be willing to share the flame of our candle to provide a source of His light to others. It will make a difference and add value to others. Luke 9:12-17

Have a wonderful day,