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Arlington Rotary donates $2,000 to Burned Children Recovery Foundation
ARLINGTON The Arlington Rotary donated $2,000 to the Burned Children Recovery Foundation Nov. 16, as Arlington Rotarians John Meno, Lee Harman and Jim Minifie presented Burned Children Recovery Foundation Founder and President Michael Mathis with an oversized check in Hadley Hall at the Arlington Boys and Girls Club.
With Apple Cup fever well underway, Mathis laughed as he agreed to wear Menos Husky hat, but turned serious to remind the assembled Arlington Rotary that the Burned Children Recovery Foundation has assisted thousands of children each year, from across the country and around the world, in the nearly 17 years since it was founded. For 16 of those years, Minifies house on Lake McMurray has served as a site for part of the foundations annual Camp Phoenix program, offering burned children a full day of boat rides, barbecue meals and hanging out in the summer sun each year.
Its a powerful influence in these childrens lives, for them to meet new people, Mathis said. Their perceptions can be that society will shun them or look down upon them because of how they look, so when complete strangers treat them positively it shows them that things often arent that way.
Mathis founded the Burned Children Recovery Foundation in 1990 after his job as a plumber was ended by injuries to arms and back, because he wanted to help other burned children just as hed been helped as a burned child. When Mathis was 12 years old in 1967, he was caught in the explosion of a five-gallon can of gasoline and received treatment from the Childrens Hospital and the Shriners Hospital for Children.
I wanted to give back to the Shriners, so I wrote their corporate office and asked them what I could do, said Mathis, whose non-profit foundation has since aided approximately 38,000 burned children and their families nationwide, providing counseling, funding and even lodging to those in need.
In addition to these programs and Camp Phoenix, the foundation distributes more than 100,000 fire safety booklets to public and private schools, day care centers and other childrens organizations annually, while also offering support groups for burned children and their families, as well as a 24-hour help line and the Everett-based Phoenix House, which can accommodate eight burned children at a time, as they readjust to society.
The Lord gives us all a vessel and a spirit, said Mathis, who has undergone 64 surgical procedures to treat his burn scars. I tell these kids that they cant internalize what society might say about their appearances because theyre not vessels, theyre spirits.
We really appreciate the work that you do, Meno said to Mathis. Your heart has made the world a better place and I wish there were more folks like you out there.