Detroit 2020 Person of the Week: Retired officer helps kids in need go to camp

Posted at 7:35 PM, Mar 23, 2018
and last updated 2018-03-23 19:35:31-04

Retired police officer Jeanne Lilienthal was one of the first female officer's protecting the streets of Detroit.

She has always given back to the community and has been raising money to send kids to summer camp for more than 28 years. 

Camp Cavell is in Lexington, Michigan on the shores of Lake Huron. 

Lilienthal benefited from a camp scholarship program when she was financially struggling as a single mother of two adopted children.

"I've always believed in camp can be magical, some of the people you meet, part of what you have been exposed to," said Lilienthal.

Her hope is for all kids to have the same opportunities to enjoy swimming, horseback riding, tree climbing and her biggest passion, fishing.

"I never pretend to be the best fisherwoman," said Lilienthal. I always told the kids, I will get you the basics, I'll get you started, I'll help you find your passion." 

Lilienthal is a certified fishing instructor. She obtained grants to help underwrite a camp fishing program and self funded much of it herself. 

She wants to teach kids a hobby that will stay with them throughout their lives.

In the past four years, Lilienthal has raised more than $160,000 and sent more than 500 children to Camp Cavell.  She also rallied support from former Piston Vinny Johnson and the Future Anglers Foundation. 

 The Freeman family has seven children and two foster children.

"She's very patient and loving," said Jennifer Freeman.  

Lilienthal teaches team work with her kids and has made it a huge part of the program.

"I'm handicapped now so I tell them look guys, I'm going to need your help - they'll give me an arm.  I help them, they help me, it becomes such a team," said Lilienthal.

If you would like to help Jeannie send kids in need off to camp, please donate here.