Reachout America has a volunteer Board of Directors who offer vision and guidance to our mission. Our founder, Bill Chafin, has "a heart for the children" and is actively involved in the day-to-day operations of Reachout America. Mr. Chafin is particularly fond of Hippotherapy camps (Therapeutic Horse Riding), but any camp that serves disabled or special needs children holds a special place in his heart.
The Story of Bill
It was a bitterly cold January evening in 2000, the end of a day Bill thought would never come to an end. It had seemed like an exceptionally long day because the illness that he had been diagnosed with only a few weeks prior suddenly felt real to him. He had been in denial of this disease of Multiple Sclerosis. After all, he thought, how could he - a husband, a devoted father of two beautiful children, a man who had been healthy his whole life - be struck with such a potentially-debilitating, life threatening disease? Bill went through all of the emotions after that chilling diagnosis - denial, sadness, despair, anger - everything anyone could possibly feel. But that particular January evening he felt something very different - as if God himself was whispering to him.
After being totally blind for 5 months and then regaining his vision and was able to behold his wonderful family again, he felt compelled to give back to the universe, to do more to help others, to be of service to the less fortunate. That's when Bill had an epiphany - he would cope with and strive to rise beyond his illness by focusing on the needs of others. Then he asked himself, "Whom should I help?"
Bill always loved children and that was his first thought. He then decided he wanted to focus his energies on helping children with illnesses and disabilities. And so, Bill started the non-profit foundation Reachout America with the mission to send kids with illnesses, disabilities and other hardships to camps that not only could help them be with other children who were dealing with some of the same things they were dealing with, but also help them with other types of therapy.
Since June 2006, with Bill at the helm, Reachout America has not only sent many kids to various camps across the country, including awesome horse riding camps that offer Hippotherapy and space camps for children who dream of flying to the moon. His efforts have not only helped children with Cerebral Palsy, Downs Syndrome, Autism, Congenial Heart disease and countless other challenges by coordinating many of the details necessary to have them attend the camps, but also contributes funds to these camps so they can help other kids continue their therapy.
Reachout America continues to both raise money through various unique programs and seek volunteers so that many other children can continue to go to camp and therapy. With your help - the help of individual people and corporate contributors - Bill's personal nightmare has transformed into a blessing and a dream has come true for hundreds of children across America.
Joy Peace Meadows
Director of Development
Joy Peace Meadows is the Director of Development at Reachout America. Joy is committed to our mission to provide therapeutic and empowering camp experiences to children with special needs. She is very excited to contribute to improving the quality of life for these kids in such a meaningful and memorable way. With her help, our impact and outreach is growing by leaps and bounds.
Joy's inspiration and driving force is her 9 year old son. Knowing firsthand the intensity of a parent’s love and the deep desire it provokes to provide for her child’s every need, Joy is especially grateful to have the opportunity to provide resources to help families of children with special needs. Along with this intense compassion and dedication, Joy applies many of the strategies and skills acquired in her extensive management experience to help Reachout America grow. Her knowledge of event planning, fundraising, service projects, and volunteer coordination enables Joy to practically construct successful endeavors for our organization. Joy dedicates her exceptional abilities, enthusiasm, and heart to Reachout America and the growth of our programming and funding.
One of Joy's most transformative life experiences involved helping a child with special needs attend camp. Joy grew up in Girl Scouts, achieving numerous awards. One summer, she had the distinct honor of participating in Hearts and Hands, a cooperative effort to give girls with limited abilities the opportunity to attend Girl Scout camp with the assistance of a Girl Scout peer who could help with day-to-day needs and functions. During Hearts and Hands, Joy met Sarah. Sarah had profound Down Syndrome and required a great deal of help to care for herself and participate in the various camp activities. Joy helped Sarah get ready for each fun-filled day, assisted her with meals, arts and crafts, and workshops. With Joy’s coaching and encouragement, Sarah learned to swim, fish, hike, make s’mores, and sing campfire songs. This was a heart- and eye-opening time that impacted Joy deeply. The friendship she developed with Sarah is one that Joy treasures and remembers fondly, and it has propelled her to do work that has a positive impact in the world. She dedicates her work here to Sarah, knowing there are numerous deserving children who, like Sarah, will benefit profoundly from positive and empowering camp experiences.