2004 Angel Award winner Mandi Sills Hart isn’t as active in the volunteer community as she used to be – having triplets will do that to you.
She does, however, coach t-ball, volunteer at her church and serve as vice president of the Minden Junior Service League, all while continuing her job as nurse manager of the labor and delivery unit in the local hospital. Her selflessness obviously continues unabated, for this year she was the recipient of her hospital’s award for an “employee who profoundly touches the lives of others and best represents the spirit and values of which the company was founded.” She also keeps up with the children (many now grown) who benefited from her Angel Award-winning work at Camp Quality, a year-round support program and a week-long summer camp for children with cancer.
It’s been more than a decade since Hart won the award, but she remembers that “money was tight that year. We had big plans. Our fundraising drive was successful but not as successful as it needed to be. With the money we were able to do a prom for the kids. That meant getting the boys tuxes and the girls got hair and makeup and they got to pick out dresses – we had lots of donated dresses. We had a red carpet, a photographer for prom pictures, fancy dinner tables.” The Angel Award grant, she says, made lifetime memories for kids “who didn’t have a lot of good memories of that year” otherwise.
“I remember, we had one little girl,” Hart says, “She was not doing well. She begged, begged, begged could she please stay at camp because she just wanted to go to prom. She did, and they named her prom queen – her little face just lit up. That’s the best memory that I have.”
Every camper at Camp Quality gets a companion, and as their website says, the job of companions is “to make sure their camper has the most enjoyable, safe, relaxing and restoring experience possible.” Work at Camp Quality had always been “a family affair” says Hart, who grew up watching her mother’s participation in the philanthropy supported by her uncle, a successful entrepreneur. “I would go with my mom to meet campers. As soon as I was old enough to participate, I couldn’t wait to go. I was a companion for the first five or six years. Then they moved me to activities director and I was on the board.”
“The neat thing is you stay in touch throughout the year., says Hart, “I still keep in touch with campers that I had. Especially now through Facebook. And one of the things they always remember – they had that awesome prom.”