MILLVILLE - A grand treehouse appears in the woods at Camp Victory near this Columbia County borough, a happy retreat for the special needs children who come every year, but also a testament to the sweat and volunteerism of others.
For many years now, West Pharmaceutical Services employees have come to the camp here to offer their time and service.
Camp Victory Executive Director Jamie Huntley said volunteerism provided by the company's people has proven to be invaluable.
West Pharmaceutical Services employees work on the roof of a treehouse at Camp Victory, which serves children with certain chronic health ailments.
"It goes beyond words," she said. "We only have a half-time maintenance person. We have more than 130 acres. You can just imagine the upkeep we have here. We literally could not do it without the help of the West Company. They are one of the better volunteer groups. We know we can rely on them."
Camp Victory serves kids with chronic health disadvantages such as spina bifida, autism and cancer. Last year, the camp celebrated its 20th anniversary with 1,591 kids attending the camp.
"The relationship West has had with Camp Victory kind of springboarded in 2005 with the handicapped accessible treehouse," said Jim Collins, plant manager at West Pharmaceutical Services in Jersey Shore. "We continue to go back each and every year. We perform maintenance on the treehouse and on the ground."
The Jersey Shore and Williamsport West plants have each been represented by teams of employees at Camp Victory in recent years. Collins said the volunteerism has simply become "an integral part" of the company's culture.
"We do a couple of different programs with Jamie," he said. "If she has special projects she needs help on, she can dial us up."
The cleanup and maintenance happens in the spring. Officials noted that the treehouse nearly didn't happen, given the hefty price tag for its construction. However, in 2007, just when the project was nearly removed from the Camp Victory wish list, West Pharmaceutical Services CEO Don Morel stepped forward with a campaign to build "Uncle Walt's Treehouse."
After contracting with a builder, company officials agreed to supply the labor for the project.
"You had people who had never put on a shingle in their life," Collins recalled.
It didn't matter.
Employees were up to the task of building a treehouse, and they've come through with other needs at Camp Victory as well.
"They do all kinds of volunteer work such as painting, mulch spreading," Huntley said. "Anything I got on my list. Sometimes I have to think about more things they can do, because they get it done so quickly."
Huntley said she can't put a dollar sign on the amount of volunteerism West employees have offered. But then there are the actual monetary contributions.
"They raised over $40,000 in 2013 for Camp Victory. That is beyond the on-site volunteerism," she said. "West is just an amazing organization, from the top on down."
The company's campaign, West Without Borders, was launched in 2004 with programs to raise funds for victims of the Asian tsunami.
The treehouse project at Camp Victory was a more local project.
Other fundraising efforts from an international focus have gone toward victims of Hurricane Katrina; African Health Placements, a non-profit organization for recruiting doctors to provide critical care for patients in rural Africa; and Braille Without Borders, a program for educating blind children in Tibet and India.