A Tribute to Charlie DiPietro on his 100th birthday
// George DeTellis, Jr.
My grandfather, Charlie DiPietro, was born May 30, 1918, in Readville, Massachusetts.
Shortly afterwards, his parents bought a 100-acre farm in West Boylston. My grandparents moved to Cambridge during World War II where he found work. Just across the Charles River bridge, they attended Boston Christian Assembly.
A woman in the church, Francis Deluca, was the leader of a committee to visit the poor and sick members of the church. My grandparents were members of this committee called “Willing Workers.” In 1948, the committee gathered at Boston Christian Assembly for a prayer meeting. At that meeting, Francis Deluca began to share the burden for a camp for children. Then, Mary Poulos, a member of the group laid hands on my grandparents and began to prophesy over them as leaders of this new camp. My grandfather was just 30 years old in 1948. The group began to meet and pray weekly for this new childrenʼs camp. They started to look for a piece of land that could be purchased, and they started to save money by tithing their weekly wages. They went to look at an old farmhouse in Maynard that was for sale for $10,000. After looking at this property my grandfather visited his mother in West Boylston and began to share with her their vision for a childrenʼs camp. She told them how she had written to the headquarters of the church denomination, Christian Church of North America, and offered to donate some of her farmland. But the denomination never wrote her back. She said she would donate the land to them, instead, to help start a childrenʼs camp. The four acres was comprised of two open fields in the middle of a wooded area. On Sunday, October 24, 1948, a groundbreaking service was held to dedicate the land for a childrenʼs ministry. Over the next decade a camp was incorporated, and my grandfather also started his own factory in Cambridge, called General Plating Company.
When I think of my grandfather starting this childrenʼs ministry I think of Elisha picking up the mantle of Elijah. In I Kings 19:19, Scripture tells us that the prophet found Elisha plowing in his fatherʼs field and threw his mantle upon him. Elisha wasnʼt thinking about being a prophet and a preacher. He was a farmer and he was out plowing his field. My grandfather wasnʼt thinking about starting a childrenʼs ministry. He was working to support his young family. But the mantle was thrown upon him. Like Elisha he picked up the mantle. To pick up the mantle of your calling is to pick up the burden. The mantle is a burden. Who will pick up the burden, the responsibility, the calling? Will you pick up the mantle of your calling? When we take on the heart of God, we take on His burdens for a person, a people, or a place. If you have a calling for a childrenʼs ministry then you will have a burden for those children.
My grandfatherʼs factory in Cambridge is gone. The business was sold in 1976 and my grandfather retired when he was just 58 years old due to health issues. Soon the new owner went bankrupt. Later, the building was torn down to build a convenience store. But, Camp Woodhaven still exists and thrives today! Every summer hundreds of children will hear the Gospel. At 100 years old my grandfatherʼs legacy lives on. Charlie DiPietro accepted the mantle, the responsibility, and he loved the work. ~George DeTellis, Jr.