Feature Story

Difference Maker

September 18, 2019 – by Cole Hatcher

As children, Emily Cammeyer ’21 (center) and her brother, Matthew, created a teddy bear for their great-grandmother, Joan Steinberg, which she kept with her for the rest of her life. Inspired by the comfort the stuffed animal provided, Cammeyer created the nonprofit Love & Hugs for Zusman Hospice at age 12. She is being honored by the Columbus Jewish News for her work to help others. (Photo courtesy of Emily Cammeyer)

Ohio Wesleyan Student Honored for Nonprofit Supporting Hospice Patients

As hospice patients reach the end of their lives, Emily Cammeyer ’21 wants to support them with Love & Hugs.

At age 12, the now 20-year-old Ohio Wesleyan University student created the nonprofit Love & Hugs for Zusman Hospice, serving the Columbus-based center that cared for her late great-grandmother. On Sept. 19, Cammeyer will be honored in the inaugural class of “18 Difference Makers” by the Columbus Jewish News.

The new award is intended to “highlight leaders among us who embody tikkun olam, or striving to repair the world,” Kevin S. Adelstein, publisher and CEO of the Columbus Jewish News, said in announcing the 2019 difference makers.

“We received an abundance of community nominations, from which we selected 18 – or chai – individuals who we feel are making a difference,” Adelstein said. “Whether in their congregation, at their workplace or in their neighborhood, and whether through volunteerism, philanthropy, advocacy or sheer hard work, these individuals’ achievements and service lift up those around them and serve to further our community.”

Cammeyer was nominated for the honor by Monica Mayer, a former Zusman Hospice worker. “She helped me tremendously with the startup of my program,” said Cammeyer, an early childhood education major from Bexley.

“The sole purpose of this program is to provide comfort to the hospice patients while they are reaching the end of their lives,” Cammeyer said, the nonprofit accomplishes this by donating customized bears from Build-A-Bear Workshop to the patients.

“I started this program for my bat mitzvah program because this topic hit home to me,” she said. “My great-grandmother was in hospice and my little brother and I made a bear for her. She took this bear everywhere with her because she lived alone. When she eventually got admitted to hospice, the bear was by her side. When she took her last breath, the bear was by her side.

For her high school senior pictures, Emily Cammeyer ’21 included an image taken with the bear that inspired her to create Love & Hugs. (Photo courtesy of Emily Cammeyer)

“Now this bear sits in my windowsill at home and is a constant reminder of what she meant to me,” Cammeyer said. “I wanted other people to experience what me and my family experienced with a small bear, so that is why I started my program.”

Cammeyer hopes to continue Love & Hugs “for as long as possible,” even as she plans a future teaching elementary school and coaching field hockey – the primary reasons she enrolled at Ohio Wesleyan.

“I chose OWU for many different reasons, which include the education department, field hockey program and coaches, size of the school, and the location from my house. As soon as I visited, I knew OWU was the place for me!”

Cammeyer and all of the 18 Difference Makers will be featured in a commemorative section inside the Sept. 19 Columbus Jewish News. Learn more about the publication and 18 Difference Makers award at www.columbusjewishnews.com.

Congratulations and thank you, Emily! The world needs more tikkun olam and more Love & Hugs!