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Meet Inheritance of Hope’s new Social Media Intern, Shelby Jo Lewis

Shelby Jo Lewis and her family attended the Inheritance of Hope NYC Legacy Retreat in 2014, just after her mother was diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer.  At the time, Shelby wondered if she would fit in with others on the retreat and in the big city. “I’m from a tiny town in the South,” she explains, “and I wasn’t sure about this whole experience; but as soon as I saw the smile on our volunteer’s face, I knew it was going to be a great retreat.”

 

Shelby and her family on their NYC Legacy Retreat in 2014.
 Shelby and her family on their NYC Legacy Retreat in 2014.
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Meet Julie Hull, Inheritance of Hope’s new Volunteers Manager

Julie Hull sums up her daily goals succinctly. “In our house, we say that love is the highest order of the day. Not perfection, but love.”

 

Those in the Inheritance of Hope family who know and love Julie will recognize that this is exactly how she approaches everything--from her position as IoH Volunteers Manager to each interaction with the families we serve. Julie is transparent in her compassionate way of striving to best love those in her path. Mom to a rising high school senior, Julie, her late husband Ken, and their son Sam were introduced to IoH in November 2011 when they attended the New York Legacy Retreat. She is not one to shy away from the painful realities of grief and single-parenting, and is refreshingly honest in telling other families that while her path has not been easy, she finds hope everyday to continue being the best parent she can be.

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Meet Heidi Benson, Inheritance of Hope’s new Families Manager

A Facebook post and a few clicks led Heidi Benson to Inheritance of Hope, and she has served on almost every Legacy Retreat since. A friend of a friend posted about their retreat experience as a volunteer, and as she read more, Heidi says she immediately knew she wanted to be a part of IoH, “Everything in my heart, all my passions, lined up with this.” Before she knew it, Heidi was interviewing to be a volunteer.

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Meet Dena Austin, Inheritance of Hope’s new Legacy Retreat and Venue Coordinator

Dena Austin and her husband Blake are veteran Legacy RetreatⓇ volunteers, and now Dena is stepping into the role of Legacy Retreat and Venue Coordinator. A volunteer since 2016, Coordinator since January 2017, and supporter since 2014, Dena knew she wanted to become involved with Inheritance of Hope as soon as she heard about the Legacy RetreatⓇ experience from friends John and Heather Crawford. John, Heather, and their boys were served on the August 2014 retreat to Orlando.

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Inspiring Hope in Big Sur: John Thomas runs and raises money for Inheritance of Hope

John Thomas, known to friends and family as “JT,” ran the Big Sur Marathon at the end of April in support of Inheritance of Hope. This was JT’s 27th completed marathon--yes, you read that right--27th!

 

JT was introduced to Inheritance of Hope through his wife, Jennifer Thomas. Jennifer has served as a counselor on 16 of our 31 retreats thus far. JT explains that through Jennifer, he has had the chance to witness the difference IoH is making. A few years ago, he brought their three children to a Legacy Retreat in Orlando while Jennifer was working. “We saw the names and faces behind the stories and were conscious of how fortunate we felt to easily enjoy our vacation time without a resource like IoH. I am so glad these impacted families could experience the fun of the parks with the help of the IoH program and volunteers.”

 

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Volunteering to Let Our Hearts Break

I want to applaud our volunteers and staff for doing so many things well. One of the hardest things to do is to create a place for grief to be shared without needing to "fix" it. I've seen it happening throughout Legacy Retreats. Here is our challenge in the words of Glennon Doyle Melton (Love Warrior - 2016, Part III, Chapter 12):

 

"We think our job as humans is to avoid pain, our job as parents is to protect our children from pain, and our job as friends is to fix each other’s pain. Maybe that’s why we all feel like failures so often—because we all have the wrong job description for love... People who are hurting don’t need Avoiders, Protectors, or Fixers. What we need are patient, loving witnesses. People to sit quietly and hold space for us. People to stand in helpless vigil to our pain.... (I'm committed to being) that kind of friend. I’ll show up and stand humble in the face of another person’s pain.

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Inspiring Hope in Northern Colorado: Former retreat participant becomes local Legacy Ambassador

In February 2014, Carol Lacert accompanied her daughter Marci Guay and granddaughter Hannah Guay to an Inheritance of Hope Legacy RetreatⓇ in Orlando. At the time, Marci, who had been diagnosed with breast cancer, was enjoying good health, but like many of our families, they were uncertain--not just about the retreat, but about the future that lay beyond. In particular, Hannah, then 13, had fears she could not easily express.

 

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Hannah Black Inspires Hope through her Art

If a picture is worth a thousand words, Hannah Black’s smile says it all.

 

Hannah with her beautiful art.
Hannah with her beautiful art.


Hannah recently sold her artwork and donated all proceeds to Inheritance of Hope in memory of her mother Laura. Hannah knows all too well the challenges IoH families face, as she lost her own mother to glioblastoma in April 2016.

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How I Dealt With Death at a Young Age

There’s something about childhood that, even in old age, people find reassuring. The nostalgia and sweet memories of looking back at a simpler time in your life are priceless, and remain treasures for a lifetime. So, often times, when people imagine a 12-year-old spending her entire young life watching her Mom battle cancer, the first thought is one of sadness and sympathy. I admit, such a reaction likely would have been my initial one as well, except that when I reflect on my childhood, doom and gloom weren’t major characters, despite my Mom’s liver cancer. Although there were certainly sad times, they were fewer than many seem to think. Perhaps I am too far removed from my own life’s experience (my Mom died a little over five years ago), but as I reminisce now it seems to me that there was far more joy in my childhood than even I might have expected.

 

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Fun Facts About IoH’s New Tech Manager, Dillon Padgett

Favorite TV show: Fresh Prince of Bel Air (favorite actor: Will Smith!)

 

Favorite board game: Settlers of Catan

 

States I've been to, in the past 2 years: Florida, Michigan, Tennessee, Texas, New York, Colorado, Utah, Nebraska, Iowa, South Carolina, North Carolina, Georgia, Illinois, Ohio. (Bonus: Banff, Alberta, CA)

 

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