Jesse Mains volunteers annually at Idaho camp for kids with cancer.
Jesse Mains volunteered at a summer camp 14 years ago and her life has never been the same.
“My dad told me about a camp for kids with cancer and encouraged me to volunteer. The first year was all it took to get me sucked in,” recalled the dual branch manager who oversees both Bear Creek and Sammamish locations in Washington.
Today, Mains serves as the day camp director at Camp Journey for kids ages 5-7. The camp, which is designed for children and families touched by cancer, also offers overnight stays for older kids up to age 17. Annually, Camp Journey hosts approximately 130 kids for one week. Campers enjoy a range of activities from swimming and climbing to a ropes course, archery and crafts. Fifty or so volunteers like Mains, including many medical professionals such as oncologists and oncology nurses, serve at the camp hosted at a facility called Ross Point in Post Falls, Idaho.
“My whole family, including my husband, supports me in various ways,” said Mains, who uses her two U.S. Bank paid volunteer days plus vacation time to lead the day camp activities. “I’ve never worked for an employer that gives their employees time off to volunteer. That’s impactful.”
Last year, U.S. Bank employees like Mains volunteered 267,000 hours of their time, equating to a $7.6 million investment in communities across the country.
Mains said her involvement with the camp has recently become even more meaningful since losing her niece to cancer. “She was near and dear to my heart,” she expressed. “Since cancer touched our family personally, my seven-year-old son has been asking me more about why I volunteer at this camp. I tell him it’s because we want to give the kids as normal of an experience as possible since they’re often in the hospital all day.”
Most of the kids are from the Spokane, Washington, community but some do travel farther to attend the camp which is free of charge and fully supported by donations.
“I love Jesse's passion and devotion to this organization every year,” said District Manager Lindsy Thompson. “In addition to Jesse herself finding time to give back in the community, she supports her employees to do the same. Jesse helps others power their potential and one of those ways is through her volunteering.”
For Mains, the most impactful time of camp is during a ceremonial campfire when the ashes from the previous year’s fire are used to ignite the new one. “Each cabin finds a stick and one camper per group shares what the week means to them. I get to meet the coolest kids who haven’t even had a chance to really start their lives yet. They’re what keep me coming back.”
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