Holli Brown calls Inheritance of Hope “the most intentional charity we know,” high praise from this recipient of the President’s Lifetime Achievement Award in recognition of over 4,000 hours she has given as a volunteer. Holli, a flight attendant with Southwest Airlines, and her husband Josh, a firefighter, recently served together on an IoH Legacy RetreatⓇ in California, something the couple has wanted to do ever since they were introduced to the organization in 2011. The Browns have been involved in international mission trips, local community projects, and also run their own non-profit organization pairing veterans suffering from PTSD with service dogs. IoH, though, has a special place in their hearts because of how the organization served Josh’s sister, M’Leigha Graham, and her family. According to Holli, “Without IoH, never in a million years would they have been able to do what they did with M’Leigha being so sick.”
We don’t always experience life the way we think we should, or the way we expect it should be. Each of us at one time may have walked through the valley of the shadow of death. Many of the families we are serving have that on their minds on a daily basis. It can be overwhelming. All of us are in different places in our lives and different seasons, and if you are currently in a season of pain, this may be hard to understand or even see right now, but God has shown me that there can be joy and even purpose in our pain.
Geoff Lewis was 31 years old, engaged, and a new business owner when he was diagnosed with stage four colon cancer in 2007. For eight years, he “fought like hell,” according to his younger brother Josh. A hard-worker and optimist until the very end, Geoff passed away in March 2015. He left behind his wife Sandy, six-year-old daughter Landyn, and their nephew Wayne, whom the couple was raising.
|Geoff (center), Josh, and their Dad in NYC|
John 10:10-15 – The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. He who is a hired hand and not a shepherd, who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. He flees because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep. I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep.
My aunt Kristen was diagnosed with terminal liver cancer on her 30th birthday. She and her husband, Deric, had 3 kids, who at the time were 4 years old, 2 years old, and less than a year old. Their life, their whole world, suddenly was turned upside down. You could say that a thief had come to steal, kill, and destroy.
Luke Milligan on the Importance of Legacy Gifts and Videos his mom Kristen left for him
Luke Milligan, the middle child and only son of IoH Co-Founders Kristen and Deric Milligan, knows how much his mom loved him. Kristen made sure her presence and love would be felt through gifts, videos, and letters long after her premature death forced her to leave him at a formidable age.
The gifts that I have received from my Mom following her death have been of immeasurable value, but no more so than the ones I received from her while she was alive. The true value of her gifts have come from the knowledge that she was considering me and my future years before I was. The intentionality that she displayed as a mother is something I intend to replicate, whether or not I am diagnosed with a terminal cancer.
The families Isaiah Douglas has volunteered for consider him a hero, but the soft-spoken college freshman shrugs off their praise with a “that’s what I’m here for” attitude. Known as patient, kind, and wise beyond his 18 years, Isaiah has a knack for connecting with the most nervous and shy of teens coming to Inheritance of Hope Legacy RetreatsⓇ.
Spencer Reid represents an exciting direction for Inheritance of Hope: He is one of two recent hires that were served on a Legacy RetreatⓇ as a child of a diagnosed parent. “The start for my family with IoH was when we were served in May 2015,” he remembers. “My mom had Metastatic Breast Cancer, and not only was it a great, impactful trip, but the timing was very important for us, because my mom passed away just a month later. Our Legacy RetreatⓇ was the last thing we did together as a family.”
“This is important--you should do it even if you don’t want to.” --Rebecca Milligan
IoH Communications Manager Angie Howell recently spoke with Rebecca Milligan about the legacy her mother Kristen left specifically for her. Read about their conversation here:
October 26th marks the six-year anniversary of when Inheritance of Hope Co-Founder Kristen Milligan passed away. In those six years, her children have reached milestone birthdays, high school rites of passage, started driving, and one has gone off to college. Through changes and achievements, growing pains and successes, they have never felt far from their mother’s love, all because of the notes, gifts, videos and more that Kristen prepared while living with a terminal illness.