If anyone told her 15 years ago that she would be where she is today, Kimberly Cambra would have laughed.
A hilarious suggestion, surely.
But here she is, living in Doylestown and leading CB Cares Education Foundation, an organization that helps children make good choices. “We make great kids,” she says.
And CB Cares is celebrating its 25th anniversary. It started out in 1996 as Central Bucks Healthier Communities with Dr. N. Robert Laws, former CBSD superintendent, Richard Reif, retired CEO of Doylestown Hospital, mindful of the need as drug use was growing in the area. It was founded with the idea that meeting positive goals would help students be diverted from risky behavior.
The founders formed a board of directors that included Beverly Haberle, who was executive director of the Bucks County Council On Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (later The Council of Southeast Pennsylvania). She saw CB Cares as a community catalyst to help control young people’s use of drugs, Cambra said recently.
“It was a formidable board of directors,” Cambra said. Representatives of all the local social service nonprofits, all astute, all knowledgeable, all community leaders, were on the board. That was the group who interviewed her for the CB Cares job.
Hers was the final interview in a field of candidates and she did not have the usual credentials, no social science degree, not much experience working with children – she was a marketing person, fresh from doing hospitality jobs. “I could tell you how to set a table,” she joked.
But when you meet Kimberly Cambra, right off you see that she has a dynamic personality, that she can convince people to support her cause, whatever that cause is. And she is not easily turned away.
She has not disappointed and she has become more dedicated to her role every year.
CB Cares today offers the Boomerang Youth Recognition Awards, a districtwide monthly program that recognizes and honors young people for exemplifying and living by one of the chosen Developmental Assets for the school year, personal assets like demonstrating empathy, becoming motivated to achieve, taking responsibility, reading for pleasure and being a positive influence on others.
Each year, more than 1,000 elementary, middle, and high school students from Central Bucks School District are nominated for the Boomerang Award. District winners serve as a model to all students in the district, receive school recognition, and are announced in the Herald and the Backpack Newsflash, a monthly publication of educational foundation that is distributed to all CBSD children.
And CB Cares has organized a team of teen volunteers to serve at community functions. It’s also created the Community Arts Program for young people.
For parents, CB Cares presents the Positive Speaker Series, which brings in mental health experts and learning authorities to help parents with their children and the it honors a sports volunteer with the Positive Coaching Award.
Anyone can nominate a student who stands out with the asset scheduled each month. Check out CB Cares.org to see the desired assets.
CB Cares became the official educational foundation for the Central Bucks School District in 2013. It raises funds to support programs that the district’s budget does not provide and it works to enhance the educational experience in all of the schools, from kindergarten through 12th grade.
Its most import fundraising event is Pumpkinfest, returning this year to Henry Chapman Mercer’s Moravian Tile Works in Doylestown. The tradition-rich CB Cares Pumpkinfest showcases area artists who carve out enormous pumpkin squash into glowing masterpieces. In the alcohol-free and drug-free event, artists work for hours sculpting gourd masterpieces. They carve, and bring winter squash to life. When darkness falls the lighted pumpkins glow among the Tile Works archways in a dramatic display.
Last year, at the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Tile Works event was canceled and pumpkins were displayed on the streets of Doylestown. This year, pumpkins will be shown on the town’s streets as well as at the Tile Works.
Pumpkinfest “supports the message of alcohol, tobacco and other drug prevention and is the culmination of Red Ribbon Week, a national initiative that promoted the important message to students about being drug free,” according to the event’s program.
And dynamic Kimberly (not Kim) Cambra remains at the helm, with no intention of moving on.