Summer-Fall Newsletter – 2023

Climber Spring Retreat

In April 2023, twenty of our current middle school Climbers, three RAs, and six JL staff members united for the Climber Spring Retreat at Camp Piankatank in Hartfield, VA. Due to inclement weather, most of the adventures were contained to the Activities Hall. This meant there was plenty of time to catch up, play games, and continue our tradition of writing “Welcome to Jacob’s Ladder” letters to our newly invited Climbers. As always, our Board members joined in  connecting with the Climbers over lunch.

photo of Garry Clay

Board Member Retires

Since 1999, Garry Clay has been a devoted Board Member. This year, he made the difficult decision to step down from serving on the board. Even after his retirement, he continues to support Jacob’s Ladder and serves as an advocate for our Climbers and consultant to our board. Garry, we wish you good health, happiness, and relaxation as you move forward in life. Thank you for being a wonderful supporter of this program and helping to make it the success it is today!

30th Annual Golf Classic

logo for the golf classic

Jacob’s Ladder held its 30th Annual Golf Classic at the Golden Eagle Golf Course on Monday, May 15th.  We were blessed with beautiful weather and had an incredible turnout. This event allowed us to net $20,000 to help provide room and board at our 2023 Summer Enrichment Program. Thank you to all the golfers who participated, sponsors  of  the  event, prize donors, and volunteers who took time out of their day  to  make  sure  everything ran smoothly. Your partnerships with Jacob’s Ladder are helping to strengthen, enrich, educate, and elevate tomorrow’s leaders today. We hope to see you back next year!

From the Exec’s Desk

Catherine Coggeshall

We welcomed thirty-nine Climbers to St. Margaret’s School for the 2023 Summer Enrichment Program during the first weekend of July, just in time to celebrate Independence Day. A week before the official opening of the Summer Enrichment Program, the eighth graders participated in the Senior Leadership Hike along Skyline Drive. The yearly camping trip includes daily hikes and time for self-reflection, developing team bonding, resilience, self-awareness, and developing leadership skills.

Encouraging Climbers to give back to the community is in the mission statement of Jacob’s Ladder (JL). This summer, we saw this mission lived out as seven RAs and three summer program directors were Alumni Climbers.

picture pf new JL climbers, 2023
New Climbers – 2023
boy with a fish

Once camp officially started, our Climbers participated in eighteen hours of hands-on academic enrichment classes a week taught by highly skilled teachers from across the state. These individuals are encouraged to select class topics they are passionate about, which allows for exploration of subject matter outside of typical classroom curriculum. Some of the classes included Neurographic Art, Action Anime, Mindfulness, Rappahannock River Critters, and Money Management. There were very few days where the weather didn’t cooperate, allowing the Climbers to spend most of their afternoons and weekends outside. Jacob’s Ladder considers swimming a necessary life skill. Each afternoon, Climbers take swimming lessons as first-time swimmers or build on the water skills they learned the previous summer.

person with a sign

This year, in addition to learning how to swim, our Climbers learned life-saving skills. Being on the Rappahannock River also allowed for frequent  canoeing,  fishing,  and   boating. Theatre is a large part of Jacob’s Ladder. This summer, more than half of our Climbers participated in an adaptation of “High School Musical.” Climbers devoted much of their time learning their lines, songs, and dances for the first two weeks of camp. In addition to this, our students had a chance to show off their skills by participating in coffee house and our talent show.

Each weekday, Climbers earn points for meeting expectations throughout the day. There is a final points rewards trip that allows us to celebrate these accomplishments during their final week of camp. This summer, with the help of generous donors, Climbers were able to take a trip to Water Country USA! Earlier in the month, we visited the Natural History Museum in Washington, D.C. Both were new experiences for most of our kids. It’s going to be hard to top this summer next year!

Introducing Sophie Scott

Development Coordinator
Sophie Scott

Jacob’s Ladder is thrilled to announce that we have added a new Development Coordinator to our team. During her high school years at Christchurch School, Sophie served as the school’s historical archivist. This role provided her with the opportunity to witness Jacob’s Ladder’s summer camp in action and sparked her passion for development work. Sophie went on to earn her bachelor’s degree in English with a minor in art history at the University of Virginia, where she was part of a small creative writing program called the Area Program in Literary Prose. In addition to writing, Sophie enjoys oil painting and spending time with her friends and family.

Sophie writes …

As a newcomer to the Jacob’s Ladder (JL) team, I learn of new reasons every day to feel passionate about the work JL does. One reason to feel passionate is how we get to celebrate the accomplishments of our Climbers and our alumni Climbers. We get to see them become bold, empathetic leaders in their own communities. I recently caught up with a few of our alumni Climbers.

Kelvin Davis, JL class of 2019, started his response to my initial message by saying, “Congrats on working for [JL], it is a very special program.” Kelvin went on to tell me about recently graduating from Lancaster High School (LHS), where I’ve heard from others that he excelled–not just as a student–but as an athlete and a true teammate, even going so far as delivering a speech to his own and rival teams on the importance of good sportsmanship before a big game. In addition to graduating from LHS this past spring, Kelvin also graduated from Chesapeake Bay Governor’s School and from Rappahannock Community College with his associate’s degree! He is currently in his first year at Virginia Tech, where he is majoring in general engineering for the moment, but he intends on studying either computer or mechanical engineering in the near future. Keep up the good work, Kelvin!

I also met Madison Nelson, JL class of 2018. I found Madison to be just how she’s been described before – a “vibrant scholar” with “poise and confidence,” which is how she was described after delivering a speech to the Woman’s Club of Essex in 2021 (from whom she then received a scholarship). Currently, she is entering her second year at the University of Chicago (UChicago) where she intends on studying biological chemistry on the pre-med track, in hopes of entering medical school with a focus on pediatrics! In addition to her studies at UChicago, Madison participates in many other clubs and teams, including being on the cheerleading team, being Publicity Chair for the Minority Association for Pre-med Students, and being an active member of the Organization of Black Students. Giving back to the community is a part of Jacob’s Ladder’s hopes for our alumni Climbers, and in addition to everything else, Madison also volunteers at the Comer’s Children’s Hospital once a week! Congratulations on your accomplishments, Madison!

Jacob’s Ladder Recognized

On September 12th, Jacob’s Ladder was one of sixteen nonprofits to be recognized at a Sisterhood event presented by the First Lady of Virginia, Suzanne Youngkin. This event highlighted nonprofit organizations from across the Commonwealth of Virginia that do good work, particularly with children. We were able to share information about Jacob’s Ladder with over 200 women attending the event and made connections with other nonprofits in the area. We were honored to be part of such a special night!

photo of Laura Domalik, First Lady of Virginia Suzanne Younkin, Catherine Coggeshall and Steffani McGurn
Laura Domalik, First Lady Youngkin, Catherine Coggeshall, Steffani McGurn

Birdies for Charity

birdies for charity logo

Jacob’s Ladder strives to make a difference in our community by fulfilling our mission. Gifts from generous supporters make this difference possible. To maximize the impact of every charitable gift we receive, we are participating in Birdies for Charity, a charitable fundraising program offered by the Dominion Energy Charity Classic and PGA TOUR/PGA TOUR Charities, Inc. When you make your gift through Birdies for Charity, we will receive your entire contribution plus a 10% bonus from the Charity Classic. Your name will also be placed in a raffle to win four tickets to the Dominion Energy Charity Classic in October. Thus, we are asking that you consider making your annual gift to Jacob’s Ladder through the Birdies for Charity platform this year. Please email for more information.


NAP Tax Credits
Jacob’s Ladder has been approved by Virginia’s Neighborhood Assistance Program (NAP) participant for FY 2023-2024. For a donation to qualify for NAP tax credits, a minimum donation of $500 for an individual or $616 for a business must be received by Jacob’s Ladder. A tax credit of 55% will be applied. Make your check payable to Jacob’s Ladder, Inc., P. O. Box 3, Urbanna, VA 23175. Your NAP forms will be mailed to you to complete. 

“For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord; plans for good and not for evil, to give you a hope and a future.”  

  – Jeremiah 29:11

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