Serving New Mexico Families Since 1995
In Northern New Mexico, the impact of HIV/AIDS increased dramatically as the rate of new infections among women of color was being reported. The presence of women with AIDS ushered in a new segment of issues, needs, and resources. Existing services were primarily directed towards gay men and not necessarily towards women and their families. The presence and voice of HIV+ women was silent. The public’s awareness and education of the plight of women and children with AIDS was almost non-existent.
Then in 1995 Corazones Unidas was born. The first fundraiser for women with AIDS was held with poetry readings, artists, musicians and a panel of five HIV/AIDS women. Several meetings were held in Ms. Jewel Cabeza de Vaca’s home, founding member, AIDS activist and a long time advocate for women and children and their families who are struggling with survival and the daily challenges of living meaningful lives. It is here, at these meetings, that the women expressed their needs, loneliness, fears, isolations and other diverse issues that include their children and the profound impact of this devastating disease. Camp Corazones became the answer to a very important need in the lives of the children.
Camp Corazones is an all-volunteer, grassroots, community based organization-serving children infected and affected by AIDS and their families. The planning, organizing and funding for the annual camp is guided by a core of dedicated volunteers who support the relevance of Camp Corazones and how important this summer camp is to the children and their families. This is the highlight of their summer vacation to come to camp and participate in the fun and camp activities as a family. For most families it is the only opportunity to be together. The first camp was held in August 1997 at Brush Ranch. The camp is provided through the generosity of charitable foundations, private donations, service providers, volunteer staff and counselors.
The goals of the camp are:
To provide an annual 4-day summer camp at no cost to children 5-12 years infected/affected with HIV/AIDS.
To provide healthy food and safe accommodations, supervision, camp activities designed for their optimum enjoyment and participation.
To provide a camp environment that focuses and supports children and their families to bond, share meals, make new friends and peer connections.
To provide trained volunteer camp counselors. Provide two training sessions in May/June. Provide one counselor for every two children, plus Registered Nurses and Licensed Therapists.
To provide staff at camp to assist with the responsibilities and daily schedule of camp activities. To provide direction, supervision and support to volunteers worker.
To plan, organize, implement Camp Corazones staff meetings, volunteer recruitment, community outreach, partnerships, budget and funding resources.
To provide an opportunity for parents to join their children together, providing an opportunity for developing peer support, friendships and mutual interests, contacts and communication that will assist in learning and helping each other.
The camp offers activities and performances as well as opportunities to learn how to deal constructively with the daily challenges of being a child with AIDS or living with a HIV+ family member.