How did you learn about Inheritance of Hope (IoH)?
My brother, Michael, had discovered IoH while searching for a charity to run for in a marathon. IoH instantly found a place in his heart, and he has since served on several Legacy Retreats®.
What made you decide to volunteer?
When my brother began to tell me about IoH, I felt a strong connection as we had lost our father, Allen Davis, when we were teenagers. As Michael went on to serve on several retreats and my mother, Cheryl, got involved, the connection was too strong to ignore. Living a couple hours away put to rest all the excuses of being too busy, and it was time to dive in head-first.
Describe your Legacy Retreat® experience as a first-time volunteer.
I went into my first Legacy Retreat® thinking I knew exactly what to expect and how emotional the weekend would be. After all, the stories I had heard had surely prepared me, right? Just slightly into the weekend, as the families began to arrive, I realized how much I had underestimated the weight of the whole event. As families began to change and open up before my eyes and as precious moments seemed to be created at each blink of the eye, I became increasingly aware of how important this service was and how God's presence washed a comfort over the weekend. These families were able to put aside their burdens and just enjoy each other, enjoy the moment.
I knew going in to expect some emotional times with the families, but I had not prepared to instantly invest emotionally with each and every person as if we had been family forever. I must say, the feeling of family, community, compassion, and trust that was ever-present is a feeling that is a rarity these days. IoH Legacy Retreats® are a gift and a blessing to all involved, I can honestly say it is not possible to get involved with IoH and not be changed from that point on.
Was there a Legacy Retreat® “highlight moment” for you?
One moment in particular that stands out for me happened on the last day. On our first day to the parks, my wife, Misty, had been paired with this particular family. The father shared many of the struggles they faced with my wife and I later that night. He talked with us for about two hours; it was apparent he had been needing someone to talk to for some time. On the second day to the parks, my wife was ill and could not escort her family. Since my family had been paired with two volunteers, I filled in for Misty and took them through Universal.
Over the course of the two days in the parks, my wife and I noticed they had begun to soften. When they first arrived, they had such a wall up, and were so down. They had lost sight of the light at the end of the tunnel. As the final morning arrived, the family was so thankful for the amazing weekend and for the memories and photos. They had all softened, opened up, and were moved by the entire experience.
To see a family arrive downtrodden, hopeless, and ready to give up and then watch God's hand wash away the worry and despair, leaving them uplifted and hopeful is what IoH is all about. At that moment, when the tears welled in his eyes and you could truly see how touched he was by the experience, he thanked us, handshakes gave way to hugs, and the emotion of the weekend had peaked.
How has your involvement with IoH impacted you?
For me, it is a way to use my experiences in life to help others who face similar situations. There is no point in learning a lesson if it cannot be shared, and I am thankful for the opportunity to share those lessons and experiences. I know it helps me to share the walk my family went through, and it helps to honor the memory of my father, hoping that our experience can soften the blow of another's.
It has been a domino effect since my brother ran that first marathon. Since his initial involvement, my mother, step-father, wife, and I have served on Legacy Retreats®, and I know I can safely say we all plan to serve on many more to come. Thank you IoH for everything you do and for all the families whose lives are forever changed by the grace of your kind hearts and selfless work.