The Power of Volunteers

Director of Community Engagement at MTK and
President of DOVIA

I always wondered why somebody didn’t do something about that. Then I realized I was somebody. Mississippi’s Toughest Kids Foundation’s mission is to build and maintain Camp Kamassa, Mississippi’s first and only year-round fully handicap accessible camp facility for children and adults with serious illnesses, physical and mental challenges, and other special needs. Our vision is to provide a place where all campers will experience the fun, adventure, educational, and therapeutic benefits of traditional camping experiences regardless of their unique abilities. People of all ages who have special needs have limited recreational opportunities in our state. There is no other, fully accessible facility like Camp Kamassa in Mississippi.  ALL campers will be able to participate in ALL activities.

I began my work at MTK in February of 2019 as Director of Community Engagement, initially to assist with fundraising. Since then, I have taken on volunteer service activities and social media marketing & fundraising campaigns.  I previously served as the Volunteer Coordinator and Education Registrar at The Jackson Zoo. I currently serve as President of DOVIA (Directors of Volunteers in Agencies) and have secured a partnership with AmeriCorps to assist in constructing Camp Kamassa. As the Director of Community Engagement, I also work to deepen community relationships, build connections, and bring awareness of MTK’s goals and mission.

We maximize donations and other funding by having partnerships with the IRT, Americorps, churches, civic organizations, and businesses and corporations. The Innovative Readiness Training (IRT) program began construction of Camp Kamassa in April 2018. The IRT mission brings together service members from the Air Force Reserve, Army National Guard, Air National Guard, Marines, and Navy to train on mission-essential tasks, including construction, dirt work, engineering, plumbing, and pest management. Building Camp Kamassa provides the military with hands-on, multi-trade construction experience while simultaneously creating an opportunity for children with special needs to experience summer camp. The myriad construction training opportunities at Camp Kamassa make it an ideal IRT mission.

“We envisioned a year-round camp facility with activities like horseback riding, a ropes course, and canoeing that would be handicap-accessible,” said Mrs. Mary Kitchens, MTK’s co-founder, and director. Kitchens wanted to build a permanent camp accessible to her target audience with specialized medical facilities. “Without the IRT program, we could not afford to build the camp,” said Mrs. Kitchens. “Now thousands of children will have a camp designed to meet their unique medical needs while giving them the whole camp experience filled with fun, adventure, and discovery.”

We would love to give you a tour of Camp Kamassa. We are 50% complete. For more information, please visit our website at

As President of Directors of Volunteers in Agencies (DOVIA), I am driven by the vision of DOVIA Mississippi, which is to create an environment where volunteers help make the most of scarce agency resources by stretching dollars. Effective volunteers allow agencies to explore new horizons by providing skilled human capital to pilot new programs. DOVIA Mississippi (Central Chapter) supports volunteerism by encouraging cooperation and increasing networking opportunities for directors of volunteers in agencies and others interested in volunteerism.

The mission of DOVIA Mississippi (Central Chapter) is to increase the management skills of directors of nonprofits and volunteer agencies; create networking and cooperative activities; act as a clearinghouse for employment and service opportunities, events, and awards; and highlight volunteerism as a valuable resource for Mississippi.

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