Phil’d with a yearn­ing to help oth­ers

Maryland Independent - - News - Twit­ter: @CalRecTAMARA

from Aus­tralia, and a lady named Phyl Camp­bell from School­craft, Mich., have a ser­vice project sched­uled to re­ha­bil­i­tate a trail that has col­lapsed and is cov­ered with brush and trees by the tor­nado that struck five years ear­lier.

Though the name­sakes hadn’t met yet, they co­or­di­nate and stay in con­tact via so­cial me­dia and email. “Go­ing to Phil [Camp­bell, Ala.] will be like a re­union, not a first meet­ing,” said Camp­bell.

One might only imag­ine how awk­ward the in­tro­duc­tions will be. “Hi, Phil, I’m Phil.” Not so, ac­cord­ing to or­ga­nizer Phil Camp­bell of Brook­lyn, N.Y. To avoid con­fu­sion, each Phil Camp- bell is re­ferred to by his or her town first then fol­lowed by first name. So, he is Brook­lyn Phil and the lo­cal is Ch­e­sa­peake Beach Phil.

Brook­lyn Phil said he started a con­ven­tion of the Phil Camp­bells back in 1995 af­ter learn­ing there was a town with his name. The orig­i­nal con­ven­tion was well-at­tended by 22 men named Phil Camp­bell and one woman named Phyl­lis Camp­bell.

Brook­lyn Phil has or­ga­nized the re­turn of the Phils in ‘96, ‘97, 2011 and 2016. The group even has its own web­site, ImWithPhil.com, used to raise aware­ness and pro­file the nu­mer­ous Phil Camp­bells who par­tic­i­pate.

“Our gath­er­ing of Phils kind of in­spired their ef­forts to have a town fes­ti­val,” shared Brook­lyn Phil, re­fer­ring to the town’s an­nual Phil Camp­bell HoeDown, which has co­in­cided with the Phils’ con­ven­tion since 1996.

The con­ven­tion turned into a hu­man­i­tar­ian ef­fort af­ter the tor­nado hit just six weeks prior to a planned gath­er­ing. At the sug­ges­tion of Phil Camp­bell from Nottingham, U.K., Brook­lyn Phil used this as an op­por­tu­nity to help the town, not can­cel their event.

“We’ve done quite a lot with the town ... from group fundrais­ing ef­forts for Habi­tat for Hu­man­ity to in­di­vid­ual works such as buy­ing Christ­mas gifts for needy kids se­lected by some­one in town,” said Brook­lyn Phil.

In ad­di­tion, the greater group of Phils par­tic­i­pated in a Kick­starter cam­paign to raise funds for a doc­u­men­tary film ti­tled “I’m with Phil,” which de­tails the group’s con­tin­u­ing ef­fort to help the town re­cover. Ch­e­sa­peake Beach Phil said the group raised $20,000 through the on­line crowd­fund­ing plat­form.

Ch­e­sa­peake Beach Phil had planned to at­tend the 2011 event, af­ter con­nect­ing with Brook­lyn Phil on Face­book. How­ever, he could not be­cause shortly be­fore the sched­uled gath­er­ing, he and his fam­ily moved to Ch­e­sa­peake Beach from Athens, Greece, and they all be­came sick from the long jour­ney.

The ser­vice-minded Ch­e­sa­peake Beach Phil said he is re­ally look­ing for­ward to at­tend­ing the post tor­nado five-year an­niver­sary gath­er­ing and pitch­ing in this year in aid­ing the town.

“This is a punc­tu­a­tion on my ca­reer,” said Ch­e­sa­peake Beach Phil, who re­tired from the Navy on May 25 af­ter 22 years of ser­vice. “I look for­ward to ser­vic­ing the cit­i­zens of Phil Camp­bell, [Ala.].”

To get there, he will have to fly into Birm­ing­ham, Ala., get a rental car and drive one hour and 40 min­utes to Rus­sel­lville, Ala., be­cause Phil Camp­bell, Ala., does not have a ho­tel. Then he will drive another 20 min­utes to the gath­er­ing. For Ch­e­sa­peake Beach Phil, the jour­ney to fel­low­ship with 15 new friends and as­sist the in­hab­i­tants at 34°21°05°N, 87°42°27°W, will be well worth the trip.

SUB­MIT­TED PHOTO

Phil Camp­bell, a.k.a. “Ch­e­sa­peake Beach Phil,” work­ing in the Prince Fred­er­ick Ro­tary Food Trailer. Re­cently re­tired from the U.S. Navy, Camp­bell will travel to Phil Camp­bell, Ala., in June to as­sist the town in re­cov­er­ing from a tor­nado that hit five years ago. He will be joined by oth­ers also named Phil Camp­bell.

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