Tanager Place receives largest ever charitable gift

Donation by Cedar Rapids couple provides new opportunities for children served by Camp Tanager

Tanager Place is pleased to announce it has received a nearly $1.8 million legacy gift from Jared and Carol Hills to expand Camp Tanager. The donation is the largest single transaction gift Tanager Place has received in its 140-year history.

“Camp Tanager has served the children of eastern Iowa since 1926. Because of this incredible gift, we will continue to serve Iowa’s children for years to come,” said Okpara Rice, CEO of Tanager Place.

“I cannot say enough about the goodness and generosity of Jared and Carol Hills. This is an amazing gift – a legacy for our organization, the children and families we serve, and the broader community. It provides a clear path through the first phase of our camp expansion project and, most important, it ensures more children can access a positive and potentially life-changing camp experience.”

Originally launched under the name Camp Good Health, Camp Tanager is located four miles east of Cedar Rapids and serves more than 1,000 children in summer programs and more than 2,000 in year-round offerings. In addition to providing traditional day and overnight experiences – many scholarship-based and free-of-charge – Camp Tanager hosts specialized medical camp programs, such as longstanding hemophilia and diabetes camps.

“I first became aware of Tanager Place when I worked as a school nurse, and learned about the children who went to what was then called Camp Good Health,” said Carol Hills.

Jared Hills added, “We were drawn to support Tanager Place because of the good work the organization does for kids – and the work with kids at Camp Tanager was especially appealing to us.”

The couple says their decision was made after visiting Camp Tanager and seeing the happiness of campers for themselves.

“We saw something that would benefit every child, and then we learned that some children had to be turned away because there simply weren’t enough resources to meet existing needs,” said Jared.

The Hills’ gift will be used in a variety of ways to expand and enhance Camp Tanager. Three key changes include:

  • Design and construction of a Jared and Carol Hills Grand Lodge, providing a centralized location for all meals, sing-alongs, dances and large-scale programming. Facility will include an industrial kitchen, and seating for up to 300.
  • Design and construction of a new cabin, allowing at least 168 more children to experience camp each summer. Cabin will include an underground storm shelter, beds for 24 campers and a kitchenette.
  • Increased camp sustainability through facility rental revenue.

“It is such an honor to have Jared and Carol invest in Camp Tanager and the future of our campers,” said Donald Pirrie, director of Camp Tanager. “Many people perceive summer camp as simply ‘something fun’ for kids to do, when the reality is camp is an outstanding place for children to learn and grow. Jared and Carol understand the profound impact camp can have on youth.”

“We feel very blessed to be where we are, and blessed to be able to share it with others,” Jared said.

“Children need guidance … and we realize some of their home lives are not ideal,” Carol said. “Even a week of camp can be very helpful. I think it is obvious, when you have former campers returning as counselors, that a bond was created and that Camp Tanager does good work.”

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