Inheritance of Hope has been blessed by many incredibly passionate and dedicated volunteers. In fact, Inheritance of Hope’s mission of inspiring hope in young families facing the loss of a parent cannot be realized without them! Our “Volunteer Spotlight” series is a way to celebrate these most selfless members of our Inheritance of Hope family.
A Legacy’s Life-Changing Impact
I still remember that day. It was just a typical September afternoon with no cares in the world. Then came the news…
My dad came home from a regular eye check-up that turned out to be anything but normal. His optometrist found tumors wrapped around both of my dad’s eyes
—a case the doctor had seen only one other time. My dad went though various tests and was eventually diagnosed with stage IV lymphoma in his eyes, and also his neck, lungs and liver. Immediately he was put on a very high dosage of chemotherapy called R-CHOP, and he went through several surgeries and various other tests. Three years later and it still seems like yesterday.
This was an extremely hard time for my family, especially for me and my three siblings (ages 17, 15, 11, and 7 at the time). We needed something to help us and fill us with joy. That’s where Inheritance of Hope enters the story.
Soon after my dad’s diagnosis, a family friend of ours from church referred us for an Inheritance of Hope (IoH) Legacy Retreat®. My parents knew the founders, Kristen and Deric Milligan, through our church, so they were familiar with the organization and the Milligans’ story. We received a call from an IoH coordinator in November 2010 that there was one space left for their upcoming Orlando Legacy Retreat® in January of 2011. We were thrilled!
After the New Year, my family was on a plane heading to Florida for our all-expenses-paid experience. I remember being excited, but also nervous at the same time. My mom had told us that we would be in counseling groups separated by age and I wasn’t really too sure how I felt about that, but I participated without resistance. These counseling groups were so helpful for me personally. I had a really bad habit of bottling things up, but I was taught in my group how to handle those feelings in a healthy way that could even be fun. It was also so great for me and my siblings to meet other kids our age who were in the same or similar situation as us. We are still in contact with a number of them to this day.
At the Legacy Retreat®, we had two wonderful volunteers who selflessly served our family around Disney parks and took pictures for us. They were always ready to help, whether we needed Fast Passes for a ride, something to eat or drink, or help finding a place to sit and rest for awhile, and they even went on all of the rides with us. It was such a fun and care-free experience for my family that we really needed. The retreat was such a great memory for us! We still talk about our experience with IoH and look at the pictures often.
After the retreat, I knew right away that God was calling me to serve as a volunteer and give back to this wonderful organization. After communicating with Kristen and coordinator Jill, I submitted my volunteer application. I served on my first Legacy Retreat® in November of 2012 in New York City and I absolutely loved it!
It is such a great feeling to give back to Inheritance of Hope and glorify God in this way of serving! I know He is pleased. The feeling I get when I serve on a Legacy Retreat® is unlike any other. I feel so alive when I am serving and I always feel like I have left a huge part of me behind every time I leave a retreat. I love bonding with the kids, getting to know a family and hearing their story, and being able to help them in any way possible. IoH is such a cool organization with a very unique mission and I am so glad that I get to be a part of it!
Serving with them has really opened my eyes and has shown me that I have a big passion to reach out to kids in these situations. I am currently studying Christian Counseling with the hope of doing more work in the future with kids who have a parent with a life-threatening illness. Inheritance of Hope has left an incredible impact on my life and I plan to serve on many more Legacy Retreats®!