One man with a big heart

April 20, 2012  |  Posted by Debbie Chartoff

National Volunteer Week, April 15 - 22, ends as the Kentucky Derby Festival begins. Mayor Greg Fischer challenges the Louisville community to participate in Give A Day week in hopes to set a world record for volunteering and public service. Individuals and groups have been making a remarkable impact with their service in community-wide projects to help reach the goal of 55,000 volunteers. One individual in Louisville, recognized this week for his volunteer efforts, continues to make a difference throughout the year.

Jon Dubins, born in New Jersey, moved to Louisville 22 years ago. He has been giving back to the community for almost as many years as he has lived here. Relocating to begin a career as a UPS pilot, Dubins filled his days when he was in town by volunteering at the Home of the Innocents, Kosair Children’s Hospital, and CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate) for abused and neglected children. His time at Kosair’s formed a bond and a special connection to children with cancer. As his interests and efforts grew, so did his involvement in many organizations affiliated with pediatric cancer. Dubins serves as the Board Secretary of Children’s Hospital Foundation, benefitting Kosair Children’s Hospital, and as President of Friends of Indian Summer, Inc. Dubins received the UPS Community Service Award on Tuesday for his dedicated service.

Dubins became immediately hooked on Indian Summer Camp when he first served as a counselor seven years ago. “The camp gives these kids the opportunity to be on their own and play with other kids,” said Dubins. “We don’t turn anyone away.” Located about an hour from Louisville in Bagdad, KY, children being treated with cancer spend a week at Camp Cedarmore staffed by a team of volunteers, doctors, and nurses. They engage in fun activities throughout the week; building friendships, self-reliance, and confidence. To celebrate the 30-year anniversary, a program called Quarterly Events was started to reunite children throughout the year with activities to maintain friendships formed during summer camp. A program to be initiated in which Dubins is excited about is the Sibling Camp. “Siblings of cancer patients will come in June for a weekend and experience the same things their brother or sister does.” Dubins adds, “So many people don’t realize how much the siblings suffer, whether it is rejection, guilt, or just not getting any attention.”

Dubins’ contributions do not end at the Hospital or Camp. Through his efforts, two national programs have been brought to the Louisville area and made available to pediatric cancer children. The idea for Flashes of Hope was born when Dubins was out of town for work. After seeing an advertisement for the program, Dubins formed a local chapter which provides a professional portrait package of their child for families. Dubins initiated Caps for Kids through the Children’s Hospital Foundation as a way to provide a hat for someone who lost hair due to cancer treatments. The cap is autographed by the patient’s favorite athlete or celebrity.

As National Volunteer Week draws to a close, the efforts for many volunteers are only beginning. Dubins’ choice to help pediatric cancer patients began in one place, but has now extended to the lives of many children and families. For Dubins, “The awareness should be on the people and programs we try to help.” To donate or volunteer at Indian Summer Camp, Flashes of Hope, or Caps for Kids, please visit the websites at,, and Indian Summer Camp is “a place where dreams come true”.

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