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.
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.”
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.
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.
If a picture is worth a thousand words, Hannah Black’s smile says it all.
|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.
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.
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)
Dillon Padgett, veteran Legacy Retreat volunteer, has recently joined the Inheritance of Hope team in a staff role.
The self-described first-time “accidental volunteer” has now logged six retreats. His introduction to serving at Legacy Retreats was in the Spring of 2015, when a visit to his sister was interrupted by the funeral of a close family friend. The siblings detoured by Orlando on their way to the service in West Palm Beach, and Dillon told IoH Co-Founder and CEO Deric Milligan, “use me if you can.” Deric did just that, immediately plugging Dillon into the team of volunteers.
Taylor Ethridge pauses as she thinks over a question. The Community Outreach and Event Planner for Kendra Scott Orlando is being interviewed about her recent experience volunteering at an Inheritance of Hope Legacy Retreat®. She is not getting off easy, “Can you explain more about how you were forever changed?” she is asked.
Taylor considers her words carefully but chooses one, “Hope.”
When God dwelled over the tabernacle in Numbers 9:15-23, the Israelites “obeyed the Lord’s order.” When the cloud lifted, they broke camp and set out. When the cloud remained, they stayed put and did not set out. Sometimes the cloud remained over the tabernacle for a long time, and the Israelites obeyed the Lord’s order and did not set out. “Sometimes the cloud was over the tabernacle for just a few days, and at the Lord’s command they would encamp and then at his command they would set out.” (v. 20)
I can’t help but imagine the logistics of this flexibility on the part of the Israelites. As a mom with 4 children, I think about all that goes into packing for a trip. Each member of my family has items they need: clothes, shoes, food, blankets, etc. It is stressful packing and managing the items needed for a family going on a trip, so I can’t even begin to imagine when the packing and planning involved everything families own, including livestock and food preparation material and seed and grain. If I knew the date and time that this move was going to take place it would be hard enough, but to set up camp, my home, without any clue how long we would be staying would be so difficult.