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Posted on Wed, Nov 14, 2012 : 6:54 p.m.

Camp Take Notice plans on heading to New Jersey to help with hurricane clean-up

By John Counts

Members of the evicted Camp Take Notice are heading to New Jersey Friday to help out with Hurricane Sandy clean-up efforts, the group announced.

Those who were part of the camp still hold weekly meetings, said Sheri Wander, a volunteer and board member of the non-profit group aligned with Camp Take Notice.

At a recent meeting, the group expressed interest in helping out those affected by the devastating storm that recently hit the East Coast. Now, they are trying to make it a reality, Wander said.

With the help of their traditional support group of churches and donations from individuals, former campers, some of whom have been placed in housing and others who haven't, will load into cars and vans and head to New Jersey, Wander said. Some of the vehicles will be those of volunteers, but the organization may rent a few mini-vans with the money they are raising.

Wander said they hope to get 20 members of the Camp Take Notice organization to the areas affected by the storm. In order to accomplish this — and buy things like rakes, shovels and brooms to help in the clean-up and tents to sleep in — they will need to raise a few thousand dollars, she said. The group continues to try and raise money.

Organizers are saying having former campers help out is a perfect fit.

“Houseless individuals may not have many financial or physical resources to help with the relief efforts, but what we do have is the time, the willingness and the skills," Caleb Poirier, one of the founders of Camp Take Notice, said in a news release.

Once in New Jersey, Camp Take Notice will work directly with Brick Hurricane Recovery Program, a small grassroots organization set up in the immediate aftermath of the hurricane, according to the release.

Their goal is “to assist our families of Brick County and the surrounding communities throughout their recovery and restoration as a result of Hurricane Sandy," Theresa Millerschoen, co-coordinator of the Brick Hurricane Relief program, said in the release.

The camp organization does not want to be a burden on an already ravaged area, however, Wander said. They will be staying at a tent city similar in nature to Camp Take Notice, which was evicted by the Michigan Department of Transportation from a wooded area near Wagner Road west of Ann Arbor in June.

The tent city is eight miles from the coast and is as of yet unnamed. Members of that tent city will join Camp Take Notice with their relief efforts, organizers said.

Even after the eviction, Wander said that "the spirit of the community is still strong" among Camp Take Notice.

John Counts covers cops and courts for He can be reached at or you can follow him on Twitter.


Abby S

Thu, Nov 15, 2012 : 5:06 p.m.

I think it is so great that the Camp Take Notice community is going to help with hurricane clean-up. I hoped that one positive of the terrible economy would be that people would no longer see homelessness and unemployment as signs of personal failure. If there is any time to look around and realize 'there but for the Grace of God go I' it is surely now. We have all heard the stories of people with Masters degrees feeling lucky to be working at coffee shops. And some of the CTN community are people who had good jobs and homes and a series of misfortunes made them lose everything. Often all that separates the homeless from those who still have a roof over their heads is how many people have been willing and able to support them when they were going through a hard time, whether that hard time was related to mental illness, addiction, physical illness, one too many financial misfortunes in a row, etc. i would have been homeless 3 years ago if I hadn't been lucky enough to have a friend who let me live in her basement. It always costs money to travel to do relief work. If it were a bunch of U-M students going to do this over winter break, would people criticize them for fundraising to go? But the need is now, and here are people who are willing and able to go, with some financial help. There are probably many people who wish they could go, but their 'real' jobs are preventing them from going. I can't take a week off from work right now. So I will be happy to contribute to CTN folks going. I don't think Ann Arbor is either all that liberal or that tolerant of the homeless. I think some of the comments have shown that.

Amber Hughson

Thu, Nov 15, 2012 : 4:01 p.m.

It pains me to read the comments posted here. So intolerant of the homeless and ignorant of what it means to become and remain homeless. Regardless of what you believe about the homeless in America or Camp Take Notice as a community, these folks aren't ask you for anything. If you want to donate, that is your perogative, no one is forcing you to pay their way. These folks have recieved nothing but hateful words from Ann Arborites, and yet they are willing to give what little they have (basically their skills) to those in need when they have recieve no similar display of support from those who have plenty. You don't have to support them, but why do you have to degrade them? What do you get out of tearing down those who are willing to give? Your intolerance is showing, Ann Arbor. I recommend transferring your energy into helping those in need on the East Coast, rather than tearing down volunteers who already are.


Thu, Nov 15, 2012 : 2:41 p.m.

I'm curious to know how the organizers of tare handling the CTN members with documented mental illness and/or substance abuse problems. In the past, a number of supporters of the camp have pointed to struggles with these as a reason some camp members can't fit into society, find paying work, etc. I certainly recognize that this is plausible, am sympathetic to such struggles, and don't pass judgement on those who live with them. In fact I think that others could demonstrate more compassion in this area. All that being said, I'd also want to know if someone volunteering to help me and my family was a known addict or had been treated for mental illness. There's a difference between wanting to help and support these folks, and throwing them into the mix with disaster victims. It could be that such folks are being screened out and are not going on the trip, but since nothing was said about selection criteria for the volunteers, I think it's a fair question.


Thu, Nov 15, 2012 : 4:53 p.m.

Chaelyc, that's totally understandable given your own situation and knowledge thereof. But that you are apprised of the circumstances and can make informed decisions about your interaction. I'm sure that many people can come up with examples, both good and bad, about those who suffer from mental illness and/or substance abuse. I have stories of my own (again, both good and bad), which are not really relevant here since my experience, just like your experience, is not everyone's experience. It simply seems prudent to evaluate who is going on this road trip. Barring that, the organizers might consider letting the recipients of their aid know the score. Maybe that's already happening, but since it wasn't mentioned in the article, I posed the question. By the way, I'd say the same thing about known convictions, since I know that's criminal history has been mentioned as yet another barrier to paid employment.


Thu, Nov 15, 2012 : 4:26 p.m.

I live with someone who has been treated for a mental illness multiple times. He's a wonderful person who volunteers his time at many places in the area. He can't help a chemical imbalance & bless him for having sought help for it. That should not be a life sentence to never be deemed useful again. If my home were a pile of sticks I wouldn't care less who was helping me clean it up, as long as they were physically able & their hearts were willing.


Thu, Nov 15, 2012 : 2:43 p.m.

" the organizers are handling..." curse the inability to edit!


Thu, Nov 15, 2012 : 1:56 p.m.

The majority of commenters on this article need to come down from their Ivory Towers and get a life.


Thu, Nov 15, 2012 : 1:31 p.m.

"In order to accomplish this — and buy things like rakes, shovels and brooms to help in the clean-up and tents to sleep in — they will need to raise a few thousand dollars, she said. The group continues to try and raise money." So now are we going to have more people at street corners and freeway ramps begging for money in the guise of relief for super-storm Sandy? This on top of the supposed "homeless vets", "I have starving kids", etc. solicitors that are already there.


Thu, Nov 15, 2012 : 1:16 p.m.

For those of you who have insulted the Camp Take Notice people for coming together and deciding to head to NJ to help with clean up, how many of you have offered your services? How many of you have donated money or blood to the red cross? How many of you have offered anything? I had a family member who was out of a job a few years back and since he had time, he went to the Gulf to help with the clean up after Katrina. I commend them for their willingness to help. Maybe they do have an ulterior motive, but I don't think those affected by Sandy really care - what they care is that they receive help.


Thu, Nov 15, 2012 : 4:30 p.m.

I guess helping when it's sorely needed is considered opportunism by the jerks here in Washtenaw county. It's not like they've got anything better to do & they should be commended for not just sitting on their butts at the freeway exits, but instead offering their bodies - the only things most of them have - to a cause that will actually make them useful.

Billy Bob Schwartz

Thu, Nov 15, 2012 : 3:12 p.m.

Hi, there. I'm here to take advantage of you by offering my help. Duh!


Thu, Nov 15, 2012 : 1:19 p.m.

I donate blood and money on a regular basis, not just during emergencies. I think its kind of disgusting to go and take advantage of a situation where so many people are suffering.

music to my ear

Thu, Nov 15, 2012 : 12:48 p.m.

why not go to area stores I. E meijers, aco ace, stadium hardware ,k mart, etc ask for donations of supplies that would save some money so they can buy food, etc. go to resale shops, they usually have mops, brooms, rakes ,shovels , and rags ,cleaning supplies. I am sure they woukd help out, also habitat for humanity ,may hay a fee things.


Thu, Nov 15, 2012 : 4:21 p.m.

Because shipping such things there is a financial burden when NJ has plenty of those things in plenty of stores already.


Thu, Nov 15, 2012 : 12:58 p.m.

I find it hard to believe that brooms, rakes, mops, etc. are not available for free in NJ, purchased with disaster relief funds.


Thu, Nov 15, 2012 : 11:22 a.m.

This is a shameless PR stunt. They are attempting to establish themselves under the guise of 'helping others' but they'll have no intention of leaving if even slightly welcomed. I mean - have you ever heard of a group of homeless people having a publicist? One good thing - CTN can take a hint. They are no longer welcome even in one of the most liberal and homeless-tolerant cities on the planet. Good bye and good luck!


Thu, Nov 15, 2012 : 4:33 p.m.

Considering most homeless people don't have any sort of way to organize, I'm not sure how they could have a spokesperson but I wish more of them did so ignorant people such as yourself would better understand their hardships & how we could help them overcome. I'm not sure how ACTUALLY helping people while you sit in your warm house & do nothing is a "guise".

Amber Hughson

Thu, Nov 15, 2012 : 3:58 p.m.

Homeless-tolerant? If you'd read any of these other comments you would realize that the people of Ann Arbor are clearly not tolerant of the homeless at all and have absolutely no understanding of what it means to be homeless and the difficulties they face on a daily basis. Their "publicist" is an unpaid volunteer who gives her spare time to help find safe places for these folks to sleep at night and jobs for them to go to. What do you get out of bringing them down? Why do you care if it is a publicity stunt or not?

I'm not from here

Thu, Nov 15, 2012 : 7:50 a.m.

Elitist AA organizations may not appreciate Camp Take Notice volunteers but they'll appreciate them in Sandy territory. Everyone there is likely wearing cast-off apparel and grateful for whatever help they can get. It is humbling to lose everything - I know - I lived through this sort of nightmare. Maybe the Superpacs funneled their leftover funds to finance the commute since the election is over? HA!

Middle America

Thu, Nov 15, 2012 : 2:30 p.m.

Did they take your "hard-earned money" by living on a plot of unused government owned land? I bet that really changed your life, "Davidian"! Poor you!


Thu, Nov 15, 2012 : 1:27 p.m.

Camp Take Notice volunteers in Adopt a Highway twice annually and help out local churches with gardening and clean-up. It's obvious that none of the trolls in this comment stream have ever spent any time in the Camp Take Notice community. Strangely, they feel they have the time and credentials to say horrible things about the community on the internet.


Thu, Nov 15, 2012 : 11:24 a.m.

What have they ever volunteered for in AA, other than taking your hard-earned money?


Thu, Nov 15, 2012 : 6:05 a.m.

I find the comments on this story disgusting. These people are willing to travel across the country to help those in need and all you trolls can do is put them down. The majority of these people are not willfully lazy but are at extreme disadvantage in finding work. How many of you would hire a homeless person? How about one with a substance abuse problem or mental illness? I don't believe that a tent city is the answer but get real this is not a black and white issue.


Thu, Nov 15, 2012 : 4:37 p.m.

Because I'm a realist & not a horrible person like most of the commenters here, I have hired homeless people as temporary/seasonal help regularly for 5 years. Sure, some don't come through for me, but neither do college students. Some are the most eager & efficient workers I've ever hired. I've also hired people with mental illnesses, people with developmental delays, former substance abusers and the physically disabled. Everyone deserves a chance to show their own personal merit & that they're not just a stereotype that society places upon them.

music to my ear

Thu, Nov 15, 2012 : 12:55 p.m.

I would not hire a homeless person,because that is what Elizabeth Smart dad did ,and look where it got him his daughter was kidnapped by the helper. I would give them food though. I think it is great they are willing to help, god will see their efforts and hopefully reward them. good luck camp, thank you for representing our state you are doing more then some and yes the people of the hurricane could use your help. god bless.

Honest Abe

Thu, Nov 15, 2012 : 7:34 a.m.

You're falling on deaf ears pal.


Thu, Nov 15, 2012 : 2:48 a.m.

I wonder why they didn't help in Dexter after the tornado.


Thu, Nov 15, 2012 : 5:18 p.m.

Because Amber, had they volunteered there would have been a front page story on, a neon billboard on I-94 announcing their humanitarian acts and two or three airplanes hauling banners touting their magnanimous efforts. One thing I do know is the former residents of that canvas slum don't shy from publicity.

Amber Hughson

Thu, Nov 15, 2012 : 3:54 p.m.

How do you know that they didn't?


Thu, Nov 15, 2012 : 1:32 p.m.

Arthur, I volunteer year round at a hospice for veterans. Because I work during the day I am limited to volunteering for midnights and holidays. Thank-you for asking. And you?


Thu, Nov 15, 2012 : 1:24 p.m.

You can speculate from the armchair as much as you like, but you obviously haven't been among the members of this community. As long as we're speculating, why haven't you volunteered in the community? It takes time, compassion, and real effort to help get these individuals back on their feet.

An Arborigine

Thu, Nov 15, 2012 : 2:30 a.m.

Hopefully their contribution will be appreciated and rewarded with a place to live long-term

tom swift jr.

Thu, Nov 15, 2012 : 1:43 a.m.

Wow, the community here is perhaps as heartless and hateful as I've ever seen. Shame on those of you who want to speak poorly of folks who just want to help. And, Ann, you saw this coming when you posted this article and left commenting open... It would have been better had you let the folks from CTN do their thing without baiting the haters with this article.


Thu, Nov 15, 2012 : 2:14 a.m.

And HOW exactly did become aware of this story?

Jennifer Hernandez

Thu, Nov 15, 2012 : 1:22 a.m.

These people are trying to help and people still have to talk bad about them! Just leave them alone! Just because they can find volunteer work does not mean they can find a job...hello jobs are not that easy to come by! Have any of you thought to go help out there??????


Thu, Nov 15, 2012 : 5:53 a.m.

How many people are would want to hire a homeless person? Im guessing not many.


Thu, Nov 15, 2012 : 4:20 a.m.

If they are willing to do volunteer work, there is plenty available right here in the AA or in the county. Or do they just want to go to New York?


Thu, Nov 15, 2012 : 1:39 a.m.

You've got to be kidding me. Ann Arbor has the lowest unemployment rate in the state at 5% I see help wanted signs all over town. Craigslist must not have received your memo about the lack of jobs because their website is literally overflowing with job postings in and around Ann Arbor. Quit making excuses for these people


Thu, Nov 15, 2012 : 12:37 a.m.

So let me get this straight, these people are homeless because they're incapable of working due to mental illness (as so many have claimed here), yet they have the means to travel to New Jersey to do the kind of work that could earn a paycheck and put a roof over their own heads. And you wonder why I have absolutely zero sympathy for these people

Amber Hughson

Thu, Nov 15, 2012 : 3:52 p.m.

There is a huge difference between holding a steady job for a significant amount of time -- with times required to show up, requirements for hygiene, transportation, and dress codes -- and volunteering your time at your own pace, in your own clothes. Not all of CTN members have mental illness, and those that do will receive support from their fellow volunteers in this case, but at an office or a corporate job they would not recieve that support. You are comparing apples and oranges, and criticizing people for taking positive action and donating the skills they have to others in need. What are YOU doing to help?


Thu, Nov 15, 2012 : 1:10 p.m.

And yet they are willing to go help others in need. For the record, members of Camp Take Notice have had jobs but for whatever reason do not have the ability to function in "normal" or accepted society. I commend them for heading east and helping others in need.


Thu, Nov 15, 2012 : 12:52 a.m.

Thank you! I'm glad someone said it! While I commend the thought of helping, one has to wonder about expense, time and work involved yet it can't be done for a pay check.


Thu, Nov 15, 2012 : 12:32 a.m.

They've already got tents

Steven Taylor

Thu, Nov 15, 2012 : 12:25 a.m.

While a commendable idea.. Bloomy and his minions will likely turn them away, much like the union folks turned away the actual technicians that volunteered to go north from places like Alabama to restore power.. Good luck to 'em.


Thu, Nov 15, 2012 : 1:37 p.m.

People were turned away just like during 9/11. Because when you get people randomly showing up, no matter how good the intentions, can wreak havoc on a plan already in place. I like how, in some twisted fashion, think this is the fault of unions?!?!?! Brilliant.