Pictured is Katelyn Renee Stephens, a second year Delta Zeta of the Iota Upsilon chapter, found standing in front of a tree outside of the newly remodeled Delta Zeta House where she lives with her sisters and her service dog, Sophie.
Katelyn is pursuing a career in Nursing at California State University, Fullerton. During middle school, she was diagnosed with a chronic illness. After being newly diagnosed and balancing life as a chronically ill child, Katelyn was a first-year camper at the Painted Turtle Camp at the age of 13. Although Katelyn was hesitant to attend this camp and cried on the way, she also cried on the bus ride back because she did not want to leave. To her surprise, Katelyn met her closest friends at this camp who were the first uniquely relatable people she had met and who still support her to this day. The welcoming staff and volunteers modeled acceptance and taught her how to both cope with the fact that she has an illness but still experience the fun of being a kid.
The Painted Turtle Camp, Delta Zeta's national service project, is a camp for children with Chronic Illnesses. Located in Lake Hughes, California, this camp hosts campers to provide an amazing summer camp experience that is specialized to unite individuals with the same condition, each week a different condition at a time. This camp is equipped to provide medical attention without the dreadfulness of a hospital setting. Thanks in part to the generous donations and volunteers from Delta Zeta, this camp hosts individuals with cancer, lupus, severe allergies, dwarfism, and numerous other conditions at no cost to their families.
The painted turtle camp is so amazing that its medical staff are willing to join children in their cabin overnight if need be, and campers pull up other campers in wheelchairs so that they can also participate in rock climbing, zip lining, and other activities. The experience lasts a lifetime and once they age out, many campers return to pay it forward and volunteer as a counselor for younger campers.
As soon as Katelyn found out that there was a DZ chapter at CSUF, she knew she had to sign up for primary recruitment. Without a doubt, Katelyn had high hopes that joining this chapter would allow her give back to the mission alongside sisters who had already been helping the camp that is near and dear to her heart. Katelyn states: "Before all my sisters met me, they were changing my life and they didn't even know it. They were supporting me by sending me to camp for free. They are the ones who gave me my best friend. And that is something I am going to be forever grateful for."
After one year in Delta Zeta, Katelyn was nominated to join the executive board and accepted the position of Vice President of Philanthropy! Our chapter is so excited to have such a passionate and strong woman lead our chapter in donating our time, talent and treasures to both Starkey Hearing Foundation and the Painted Turtle Camp. In addition to helping Delta Zeta reach their 5 million in 5 years promise with Starkey and donating to continue sending kids to camp, Katelyn hopes to help Iota Upsilon in volunteering as camp counselors at the Painted Turtle Camp.
Thank you, Katelyn, for all that you have done for the world and all that you are going to do for our chapter, our community, and our world. Thank you, fellow Delta Zeta's, for taking the time to read this inspiring story. Katelyn was inspired by the Painted Turtle Camp, and Katelyn is now inspiring us all by helping continue the mission and philanthropy that brought her home to DZ.
Truly Your Sister,
DZIY Historian Spring 2018