It is with deep sorrow that we at Joy El have been grieving the tragic death of Melissa Skye Collins over the past few weeks. At age 17, just days away from graduating from high school and on the day she was to graduate from our 4.12 Leadership Training Program, her body was found. She had been murdered at the hand of her step-father, the result of domestic violence.
We remember Melissa as a vibrant young woman who was on fire for God and had a great desire to share that passion with others. As many others have said, when Melissa walked into a room, the entire room just lit up with her presence. Musically inclined, she had planned to pursue a career in music therapy because she had such a desire to help others. She was a great friend to many of the students in the 4.12 program, and she was loved by her campers.
Though we mourn for our loss, we rejoice knowing that Melissa no longer suffers in this world. She is with our heavenly Father and we know that we will see her again. It is very unusual to experience a loss at Joy El in this way, but in the pain, God is using this tragedy to bring Glory to himself. See how fellow 4.12 students have responded http://www.joyelcamps.org/pennsylvania_christian_retreat_center/melissas-friends-lead-way.
As we continue to process what has happened and move through the stages of grief, we desire to honor her memory. Through the influence of her friends and other Joy El supporters, we have chosen to start a Camper Scholarship in her memory. This scholarship would be used to fund a week of camp for one camper every year. We hope to raise $6,500 for this scholarship to be established. Melissa came to camp for the first time with the help of Campership funds. Her family shared that Joy El has played a pivotal role in her life and helped her become a faithful child of God. This scholarship will help others to experience Jesus at camp just like Melissa.
If you would like to contribute, please send a check earmarked “in Memory of Melissa” to our address. Or you may go on-line here and select “Memorial Gifts” designating Melissa Collins in the appropriate field. All gifts given in her memory will be used for this scholarship.