Camp Okizu

Camp Okizu

Camp Okizu

Camp Okizu is a peer support program for children with cancer and their families. The mission is to help all members of families affected by childhood cancer to heal through peer support, respite, mentoring, and recreational programs. Now in it’s 40th year, Okizu works closely with medical treatment centers to complement their services in order to fill the need for respite from the rigors of treatment. The camp offers a variety of programs tailored to meet the specific needs of children with cancer, their siblings, and the family unit.  Sadly, last September, the North Complex Fire destroyed the camp property.

The camp lost 38 structures including the lodge, boathouse, cabins and state-of-the-art health center. The Robert Nelson Foundation is proud to help this great cause in their rebuilding efforts by giving a gift of $20,000. The foundation wishes Camp Okizu all the best as it moves forward to rebuild from this challenge.

We are so honored to be chosen to share the philanthropy and kindness of the Robert Nelson Foundation with the families we serve. This donation will help us to provide support programs for children with cancer and their families. Due to the financial burden that often accompanies a pediatric cancer diagnosis, all of Okizu’s programs are offered free-of-charge to the families we serve, and this generous grant will help us to serve children with cancer both in-person and virtually next year.

Suzanne Randall
Executive Director, Okizu

Here are just a few examples of the devastation due the wildfire that destroyed many of the buildings at Camp Okizu.

Lodge Before

Lodge After

Health Center Before

Health Center After

Gazeebo Before

Gazeebo After

Announcing the The Robert Nelson Foundation Scholarship

Announcing the The Robert Nelson Foundation Scholarship

Announcing the The Robert Nelson Foundation Scholarship

The Robert Nelson Foundation proudly announces the creation of The Robert Nelson Foundation Scholarship. Mr. Nelson had a desire to help young people with their education and the foundation is proud to announce a scholarship program through Grand Valley State University to assist students entering the field of multimedia journalism. Mr. Nelson spent almost 40 years of his life devoted to this field, and the foundation is honored to carry out his passion by helping young people reach their educational and life goals. The foundation will provide four ten thousand-dollar scholarships initially to qualifying students. Coupled with the scholarship, will be The Robert Nelson Foundation Career Exploration/Summer Broadcasting Camp. The camp will be specifically designed for high school students who show a desire and passion for entering this field. The exploration camp will combine the expertise of the university staff with local media professionals to give the students a hands-on experience as well as providing them the knowledge of the next steps for their education. The foundation is excited about this opportunity and partnership to fulfill Mr. Nelson’s desire to help young people reach their goals.

Congratulations to our Scholarship Recipients

Audrey Whitaker

Multimedia Journalism, Environmental and Sustainability Studies

I am incredibly grateful to receive this scholarship! I am honored to be recognized not only for my hard work as a student journalist so far, but also for my potential to succeed in my career after graduation. This scholarship will enable me to focus deeply on what I am learning in my journalism classes and gaining real-world journalism experience.

I am from Grosse Pointe Park, Michigan. I am passionate about the environment and journalism, having grown up sailing on Lake St. Clair and the Detroit River. In my career as a journalist, I hope to use my reporting skills to help others understand environmental issues and to take action to address them.

I am looking forward to serving as associate editor of GV’s student newspaper, The Lanthorn, this year! This will be my fourth year on the Lanthorn staff. I will also be serving as commodore of GV’s Club Sailing team and preparing for life after graduation! I am excited to work on my senior project for GVSU’s honor’s program, which will be a series of blogs focused on “zero waste” consumption, and for the new “Producing for Broadcasting” class I am taking this fall.

Gillian Hanton

Multimedia Journalism

My name is Gillian Hanton and I am an incoming senior multimedia journalism major at Grand Valley. I am originally from Sterling Heights, Michigan, a city on the east side of the state in the Metro Detroit area. However, I am currently working for the summer in St. Ignace, Michigan, a small town in the Upper Peninsula. This is a place my family frequented on vacations while I was growing up, so it genuinely feels like a second home to me.

It is very difficult to describe how thankful and honored I am to receive your scholarship, and how profoundly it will impact my future at Grand Valley State University. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit in 2020, I had to become a part-time student because of some personal issues with my health and my family’s health as well. As a result, I have had to add on an additional semester to my educational career at Grand Valley. I was very concerned about how I was going to pay for this extra semester, and I have considered taking on an extra job for the next year to reduce some financial stress, as my other academic scholarships will expire after only four years. With this scholarship, you have given me the greatest gift an academically invested student can receive: the ability to spend my time in college doing what I love, without having to worry about financial difficulty.

Writing and journalism are my greatest passions, mainly because I love learning about my community and sharing their stories with the public. I was a staff writer for the Grand Valley Lanthorn, our school newspaper, last year, and it challenged me to become more involved in all aspects of life at Grand Valley, whether that be in sports, volunteer efforts, or the arts. In more ways than one, it made me a better, more well-rounded person.

This coming year, I am looking forward to participating in one of my other passions, theatre. Because performances were halted for well over a year due to the pandemic, I can’t wait to get back onstage and create important art with some of my best friends. I have deeply missed the endless rehearsals, opening night jitters, and countless mistakes made while creating a production. My senior year (plus one more semester) would not have been the same without these experiences, as well as your support.

Sabrina Edwards

Multimedia Journalism

This scholarship will help me tremendously in finishing my education at Grand Valley State University. I don’t receive help from my parents, and I am not eligible for financial aid. Because of this I’ve been paying out of pocket and taking out loans. Receiving this scholarship will help lessen the workload I have during the semester as I work nearly full time as well as being a full-time student during the school year.

I grew up in Wyoming, Michigan but graduated from Grandville High School. There I was able to discover my passion for broadcast news while giving the live announcements for my school. After college I hope to start a career in the broadcasting field, where I can help others share their stories. This year I am looking forward to graduating college and continuing my work at Grand Valley’s student led paper, The Lanthorn. Due to your generosity, I do not have to worry financially for my final school year. I am extremely grateful for this opportunity.

Robert Novak

Multimedia Journalism

Thank you so much for your generosity. This scholarship will make an enormous difference in my life. Now, I have an opportunity to focus more on academics, rather than worry about my finances.

I’m originally from Michigan’s east side. I’ve worked extremely hard to surround myself with projects and work that I am passionate about since moving to Grand Rapids to attend school. I’m currently working as a production assistant for WGVU Public Media and am an intern at Local Spins. I take pride in my work and love being able to work in multimedia journalism. Thank you again!

The career exploration fund and the scholarship will provide tremendous support to students majoring in multimedia journalism, especially those interested in broadcasting.  Because of your gift, these students will have access to experiential learning opportunities that they otherwise would not have had.

Philomena V. Manella
President, Grand Valley State University