For many people who come to know and love Angel On My Shoulder, it’s a family affair. The Brittnachers can be counted among them, having first gotten involved due to a daughter’s illness, then deepened their commitment over the years.
Chris and Don Brittnacher enjoy their life in Kaukauna, Wisconsin, where they raised their three children, Heidi, Anna, and Mollie. Mollie passed away from cancer in 2001.
“We attended Camp Hozhoni in 1997 and 1998,while she was going through treatment,” Chris said. “It was a safe and comfortable way for our family to ‘get away’ while going through chemotherapy.”
Their daughter Heidi has lived in Milwaukee since 2014. Anna and her husband Roman moved back to Kaukauna from Duluth in 2017, and they welcomed their son Rory just this past February.
When asked how they first got involved with Angel On My Shoulder, Chris said, “Heidi and Anna volunteered for camp in 2012. Heidi became more involved with the planning committee in 2013.”
It was through that commitment that Heidi found out they needed another photographer for camp. She asked her father, Don, to step in.
Heidi was given the responsibility of coordinating the family craft event, so Chris helped with that.
“After that first year, I said I would take care of it,” Chris said. “Hozhoni has been the perfect way to use our gifts to honor our sweet girl Mollie! Craft projects were always a good way to pass the time and keep Mollie engaged when she was going through treatment.”
Heidi said Don loves to use his photography skills to capture memories for the campers.
Some of Heidi and Anna’s favorite memories from camp were the “Hozhoni Boogie” and the relationships that all three girls developed with some of the counselors.
“Making those memories with campers is so meaningful to them,” said Chris.
Chris said that local friends who knew Mollie have done numerous things over the years to help with camp projects. “Mixing cement for a hundred stepping stones, building thirty-five birdhouses, growing plants for terrariums, donating beads and artistic talent to my demo, and making ceramic turtles for the terrarium project are a few things that come to mind.”
Chris likes to repurpose and use second-hand materials for the crafts since it’s better for the environment.
“I get help from fellow camp volunteers and other friends in sourcing supplies from thrift stores and rummage sales,” said Chris. “I think volunteering for camp is a wonderful creative outlet and allows our family to honor Mollie, while helping to make camp special and memorable for families.”